As fears mounted this week about a possible (and now, it seems, averted) US government default, the US press stumbled upon an Oct. 13 editorial in Xinhua, China’s largest news agency, calling for a “de-Americanized world” in light of Washington’s fiscal dysfunction.
News outlets including CBS, USA Today, and Bloomberg picked up the editorial, while the Los Angeles Times ran a story with the headline “Upset over US fiscal crisis, China urges a ‘de-Americanized world.’
“CNBC emphasized that Xinhua was a “government voice,” and that the editorial was “government propaganda” intended for local readers.
According to Foregn Policy, the op-ed hit something of a sweet spot for shutdown-traumatized Americans, touching on, as Max Fisher at the Washington Post put it, “the dual American anxieties that we are letting down the rest of the world and that China is finally making its move to replace us as the global leader.”
By Oct. 16, there were at least 15 articles in major Chinese-language media outlets on the international response to the piece.
Xinhua published one titled, “Incisive wording of Xinhua’s call for ‘de-Americanization’ surprises American media,” and the Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times’ top headline on Oct. 16 was “Washington Worried by ‘de-Americanization’ editorial run in China’s state-run media.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, issued its last official comment on the fiscal showdown in Washington on Oct. 9: “China and the US are economically intertwined and inseparable. We hope that the US can resolve this issue and ensure the security of Chinese assets in the US” Admittedly, “Xinhua Journalist Calls for a ‘De-Americanized World’” makes for a less compelling — if more accurate — headline.