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Nov 19, 2012

ABC China corro: another view on Andrea Yu

"Journalist" Andrea Yu created waves at China's recent party Congress with her soft questions. ABC China correspondent Stephen McDonell responds to a Crikey article which defended Yu.

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Friday’s article in Crikey by Kway Teow regarding Andrea Yu entirely misses the point of the CAMG story. And by setting up her “crimes” at the beginning of the article — which are not actually the central issue at all — the item is rather misleading.

By using the surname Yu, she is just using her married name. There is obviously nothing wrong with that. Her “crime”, if you want to call it that, is really her company’s crime.

It is that they are pretending to be an independent Australian media company when they are actually, in effect, an arm of the Chinese government.

This is misleading when CAMG provides stories for third parties (it seems to me that the company is actually laundering Chinese government propaganda through Melbourne and into other countries). It is misleading when Andrea Yu presents herself at the Great Hall of the People as an independent correspondent to ask her ultimate paymasters how good a job they are doing, and it is misleading when Chinese media does stories on her and presents her to their viewers and readers as an Australian foreign correspondent.

Kway Teow has suggested that we covered this story because we were looking for something quirky at the Congress to report on. Firstly, we have been busy enough with serious matters to be out looking for frivolous angles. The point is this is not a “quirky” story. It is a serious matter relating to a new (and deceptive) strategy from the Chinese Government to get its own spin out.

As I pointed out in our original ABC story, she can ask whatever questions she likes. That is not the issue. It is certainly not a “crime”. The problem is pretending you are one thing and being another. If readers have any doubt about this they can go to CAMG’s website and try to find the part where it says they are a Chinese-owned company, with links to the Chinese government.

The story is not about Andrea Yu. It is about CAMG and the Chinese government.

At the Congress there are only limited numbers of questions allowed from foreign correspondents. What we’re seeing now appears to be a strategy of the government stacking these opportunities with questions from its own people masquerading as correspondents.

This may seem trivial to some but it is the very serious matter regarding information control.

I genuinely wish Andrea Yu all the best and hope she can get a proper journalist’s job if that is what she’s after. We have all done crappy work to get into journalism but, as I have said, this is not about her. It’s about a much bigger picture problem.

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10 thoughts on “ABC China corro: another view on Andrea Yu

  1. Jane Ben

    I’m interested in truthful reporting. It annoyed me that journos claimed Ms Yu was operating under a fake name, which I’m glad Stephen corrected in this article. But I’d also like to correct Stephen, when he says: “The problem is pretending you are one thing and being another. If readers have any doubt about this they can go to CAMG’s website try to find the part where it says they are a Chinese-owned company, with links to the Chinese government.” So I went to CAMG’s website.

    And surprise! Smack bang on their front page (and pretty much every page) it has a box listing who CAMG is linked with, and first up is CRI – which everyone knows is a Government-run Chinese Radio station.

    I also clicked on CRI, and again, the first thing on their About Us page (http://english.cri.cn/11114/2012/09/21/1261s723419.htm), clearly says: “Founded on December 3, 1941, China Radio International (CRI) is a state-run radio station.”

    Believe me, I have no sympathies for the Chinese Communist Party, and am personally disgusted by their human rights record. I don’t work for CAMG, so I don’t know everything about them. But in in the interests of truth, I just believe that Stephen has incorrectly claimed CAMG are ‘pretending’ when I saw for myself that CAMG’s website are pretty clear about their links to Government. (Meanwhile, I checked out ABC’s website and couldn’t find the part where they say they are Government-owned!).

    The hilarious thing about this is that there was nothing wrong with Ms Yu’s questions anyway, as Stephen said, “she can ask whatever questions she likes”. This whole story is based on such a non-issue, and yet so riddled with journalistic inaccuracies!

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