Rupert Murdoch’s narrative of China

Rupert Murdoch’s activities in China hit a brick wall. Having spent at least $2 billion, he sold his television channels and abandoned his China venture. (Murdoch’s investments and their failures were comprehensively reviewed by Jonathan Manthorpe in his recent piece for the Vancouver Sun).

Chinese President Jiang Zemin shaking hands with with Rupert Murdoch during a private meeting at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, November 2, 1997 (Mark Terrill/AFP/Getty Images from nybooks.com)

Jonathan Mirsky, a historian and journalist specializing in Asian affairs, has recently shared his memories of  Rupert Murdoch’s  Chinese reporting vs. business saga with the readers of the New York Review of Books.

Until 1998 Jonathan Mirsky was East Asia editor of The Times of London. Here is how it all began:

When I was invited to write for the Times in 1993, I told its then-editor, Peter Stothard, that Murdoch was going to invest substantially in China and would dislike my critical reporting. He assured me that Murdoch never interfered in the paper. I took the job.

Around that time, Murdoch began investing in Chinese television and helping official media set up websites. He sold Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, one of the world’s most profitable newspapers, because its China reporting was too negative. He dropped the BBC from his satellite over Hong Kong, observing that a film it aired on Mao had angered “the people with whom I am trying to do business”; he published a hagiographic biography of Deng Xiaoping by one of his daughters, and referred to the Dalai Lama as “a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes.” Later, Murdoch broke his contract with Hong Kong’s ex-Governor, Chris Patten, whose book, which included unfavorable discussion of China’s government, was to be published by News Corp’s HarperCollins.

Read here about many other developments of  Murdoch’s failed narrative of China.

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