Interview: If China is collapsing, how can it pose an existential threat to the West?

There are two narratives about the Chinese economy in Western media reports. One is "collapse," the other is the "China threat." There is a logical contradiction between the two, Laurent Michelon pointed out. "If China is collapsing, how can it pose an existential threat to the West?"

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Tourists visit the Fuzi (Confucius) Temple scenic area in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, Aug. 18, 2023. (Xinhua/Li Bo)

The false narratives of Western media about the Chinese economy are defamation — “the weapon of choice to avoid competition,” French essayist and entrepreneur Laurent Michelon told Xinhua in a recent interview.

There are two contradictory narratives about the Chinese economy in Western media reports, the first of which is “collapse,” Michelon said, adding that with each failure of a Chinese company, the Western media seize the opportunity to “announce the collapse of the industry in question, or even the collapse of the entire country’s economy.”

Despite the rather favorable economic data published by China or the IMF, the Western media “still try to portray China as a place where doing business is no longer profitable and as an economy in the process of collapsing,” Michelon said.

The other narrative is the “China threat,” he said. “The official narrative, emanating from Washington for several years, which must be echoed by all Western media, is that China poses an existential threat, a systemic rival to the West.”

There is a logical contradiction between the two narratives, Michelon pointed out. “If China is collapsing, how can it pose an existential threat to the West?”

Moreover, when the media are left with no choice but to report positive information about China, “they must always qualify it by adding ‘but at what cost?’ at the end of the headline,” he said.

Living in China for about 25 years, Michelon, along with his contacts and business partners in various fields, has observed a recent resurgence of investments in China by major Western companies, including Tesla, Intel, Audi AG, BNP Paribas Asset Management, among others.

“It’s quite remarkable for a so-called ‘economy in decline’ that Western media claims,” Michelon said.

Such claims are so familiar, Michelon lamented. “In 2013, some Western people and media had already claimed that China’s economy was collapsing, but China’s GDP doubled from 2013 to 2022.”

He said certain people in the West are obsessed with badmouthing China’s economy, but the reality always slaps them in the face. “They are like repeatedly uttering a spell, hoping repetition would create a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Few European journalists would “tell the real China to readers,” and even if they do, the report will most likely be blocked by editors, he sighed. “That’s why some Western journalists who are willing to tell the truth eventually left the media.”

The Chinese economy possesses strong resilience and recovering capabilities. The economic and financial media in the West need to “stick to the reality of the Chinese economy,” the scholar noted.

Xinhua News Agency

Founded in 1931, Xinhua News Agency is one of the largest news organizations in the world, with over 10,000 employees across the globe. As the main source of news and information for China, Xinhua plays a key role in shaping the country's media landscape and communicating its perspectives to the world. The agency produces a wide range of content, including text news articles, photos, videos, and social media posts, in both Chinese and English, and its reports are widely used by media organizations around the world. Xinhua also operates several international bureaus, including in key capitals like Washington, D.C., Moscow, and London, to provide in-depth coverage of global events.

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