A New Zealander who writes for the English language newspaper Shanghai Daily said he “was not surprised” after his Twitter account was labeled as “China state-affiliated media” by Twitter.
Shanghai-based Andy Boreham poked fun at the label with a tweet saying, “As far as I’m aware, I’m the first foreigner to gain this coveted title. Let’s keep fighting the machine, guys!”
Soon after, he lambasted Twitter as a “tool for hegemony and he status quo” in an interview with Chinese state-owned media Global Times.
“Twitter is anything but a space for sharing ideas,” he was quoted as saying. “And the unfair media coverage of China is just part of the systemic and high-level campaign to continue painting China in the worst possible light.”
According to Boreham, the label did not come as a surprise since he claimed to have been targeted by independent think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
Twitter started adding “state-affiliated media” labels to the accounts of government-controlled news outlets back in August 2020. The label purportedly prevents such accounts from being amplified and recommended to users on the social media platform.
The label covers accounts in the U.S., China, France, Russia and Canada, among others. It only applies to the accounts of outlets where “the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.”
Boreham, who believes Western media platforms have an anti-China agenda, criticized Asian American reporters who he claims to have written “unfair and inflammatory reports on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games.”
He also called out U.S. outlets that faulted 18-year-old U.S.-born skier Eileen Gu for choosing to represent Team China at this year’s Winter Olympics.
“I think it would be very hard to change the negative reporting in Western media about Beijing 2022, just because they have a vested interest in making it seem as unsuccessful and draconian as possible,” he said.
Boreham, who has been living in Shanghai for nearly a decade, is a member of the New Zealand-China Friendship Society, a group that fosters a positive relationship between New Zealand and China.
According to the group’s website, Boreham was reportedly given a government media award in Shanghai back in 2019 for covering a political conference.
Boreham said he finds it “extremely rude” that some Westerners think he has been “bought” since he fully believes in everything he writes.
“I do what I do because I believe 100 percent in what I say,” he asserted. “Of course, I do. Otherwise why would I work for Chinese media? It is not a question of money, it is a question of personal morality.”
Boreham further stressed that he genuinely believes “China is an amazing place that is getting a bad deal from the West right now, and particularly from America.”
He added that fighting what he claims to be a “high level campaign” to discredit China would require a “concerted effort by a lot of people.”
“It is going to take a fundamental, seismic shift to finally help the world see, and be allowed to see, the real China,” he concluded.