In New York’s Times Square, China is screening its latest South China Sea propaganda video, 120 times a day until August 3rd. You would think that for a video that is played at such a famous venue with a wide-ranging audience, the Chinese government would have fact-checked the details. Apparently not.
Catherine West, one of the foreign experts featured in the video, must have been surprised to see her face plastered on a screen in Times Square in a clip that condones China’s position in the Hague Tribunal ruling. Not only did the 10 second highlight clip misrepresent her position, it even got her title wrong.
West wrote to Quartz, clarifying that she is the “Shadow Foreign Minister (with responsibility for the Asia-Pacific Region),” not the “Shadow Secretary of State.”
Furthermore, West says she has long “raised concern over Chinese island-building and military deployment in the South China Sea.” Since then, she has also responded with a tweet showing her on record in Parliament supporting the Permanent Court of Arbitration Ruling.
I have consistently voiced concern over militarisation of South China Sea by China, & urged PCA ruling to be upheld pic.twitter.com/Puc2PKpBfk
— Catherine West MP (@CatherineWest1) July 27, 2016
The video introduces the “dual-track approach,” which proposes negotiations among states directly concerned in the region, but not with outside countries like the US (or the UK). Then, it goes on to feature Catherine West saying, “I think talks are crucial. And that’s why we have to be careful that yes, we need to resolve something very locally,” making it seem as though she endorses China’s method.
West has stated that she stands by what she said, but it was heavily taken out of context. In an email to Quartz, she explained:
I was of course happy to give an interview on my concerns regarding the militarisation of the South China Sea and the need to work together to secure a peaceful resolution, I am not happy for the footage to be used in a way that suggests that I support the current approach adopted by China towards these islands.
I would hope my parliamentary record has demonstrated that I have consistently raised concern over Chinese island-building and military deployment in the South China Sea, and indeed I have urged the UK Government to do all it can to ensure international law is upheld and that the region is stabilized for all parties concerned.
The footage was filmed in one of the interviews West participated in at the 5th China-Europe High-level Political Parties Forum in Beijing this May, where she voiced concern about China building islands and militarizing the South China Sea.
It is unclear whether the video will be edited or discontinued. Either way, China could always replace it with one of its many other propaganda videos.
If you haven’t gone down to Times Square yet to see it, you can watch the video below. West appears around the 2:25 mark:
By Sarah Lin