British MP ‘deeply concerned’ by appearance in China propaganda video

July 28, 2016 5:33 pm
A video promoting Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea shows white-sand beaches and crystal-blue waters, but omits images of the artificial islands Beijing has built in the strategically vital waters © Pool/AFP/File / Ritchie B. Tongo

, London, United Kingdom, Jul 28 – A British MP has complained about appearing in a video promoting Beijing’s claims in the disputed South China Sea, saying she was “deeply concerned” that her words had been misrepresented.

Catherine West, a foreign affairs spokeswoman from the main opposition Labour Party specialising in the Asia-Pacific region, is briefly quoted in the video.

The video shows white-sand beaches and crystal-blue waters, but conveniently omits images of the artificial islands Beijing has built in the strategically vital waters also claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam, among others.

It includes clips of talking heads who support China’s claims to most of the waters and seem to downplay the international tribunal that rejected the legal basis for China’s assertions.

West is featured as one of the speakers, saying: “I think talks are crucial and that’s why we have to be careful. We need to resolve something very locally and have a grown-up approach to dialogue.”

Her comments appear to support China’s position that the dispute should be settled through direct talks between claimants, not through the international legal system. But West said her words were used out of context.

The three-minute video is running about six hours a day on a big screen in New York’s Times Square — one of the world’s busiest tourist destinations.

It started playing on July 23 and will be shown 120 times a day until August 3, according to China Daily.

The video is “not a reflection of my record or views,” West said on Twitter, adding she was “deeply concerned by this misrepresentation” and that she had “consistently voiced concern over militarisation of (the) South China Sea by China”.

Beijing refused to participate in the case that was brought by the Philippines to the international tribunal in the Hague and says it will not respect its judgement.

West was not the only Briton in the video, which also featured John Ross, a former economic adviser to then London mayor Ken Livingstone who now lives in China.

Disputed maritime features in the South China Sea © AFP

China and Britain have grown closer in recent years, with the countries’ leaders saying relations have entered a “golden era”.

The video was produced by China Review Studio, a group that makes low-key propaganda films featured in Chinese state media.

China’s official news agency Xinhua said the video “clarifies the truth behind the arbitration tribunal farce”.

It had “attracted many eyeballs, with some Chinese tourists in the Big Apple saying that it is necessary to let the world know the truth regarding the issue,” Xinhua added.


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