On Oct. 26, the Washington Free Beacon published a hard-hitting investigative article exposing a truly appalling and destructive example of communist China’s long-term war on free societies, in this case using influence and information as weapons.
The Free Beacon detailed The Economist magazine’s years of “sympathetic” coverage of China’s Huawei Technologies company. Then the report connected information to a kind of influence by documenting the magazine’s profitable business relationship with the notorious corporate giant. The Free Beacon noted The Economist did not acknowledge that economic relationship for nearly a decade.
Huawei’s deep financial and operational connections to the Chinese Communist Party are no secret. The CCP has final say over Huawei’s international operations. That indicates the CCP was a silent partner in the Huawei-Economist arrangement.
According to the Free Beacon report, written by Yuichiro Kakutani, from 2012 through 2018, the Economist Intelligence Unit (the magazine’s consulting division) published at least seven Huawei-commissioned reports the company used to “advance its policy agendas and deflect cybersecurity concerns raised by Western governments.” Huawei credited the reports with influencing British broadband and communications policy.
But here’s the damning quote that implicates the news and editorial divisions. The magazine itself had “defended Huawei in a front-page cover story in 2012 – the year the publication’s consulting division started working with the company.” Titled “Who’s afraid of Huawei?” the story “accused Western countries of using cybersecurity concerns as a pretense to oppose legitimate competition from Huawei.”
I visited The Economist website and read the Aug. 4, 2012, story. The Free Beacon summarizes it fairly. The Economist’s editors called Huawei “China’s new world-beater.” The article mentioned Chinese cyber-espionage, Huawei’s government connections, its “opaque ownership structure and secretive culture,” and other security and competitive issues—column inches devoted to the list. However, the editors dismissed these critical issues as “fretting.” This quote reveals the editorial attitude: “Huawei’s competitors have a vested interest in hyping concerns about it, while disguising their own reliance on Chinese subcontractors and on subsidies.”
Substituting a bland word for a harsh one is a euphemism. The term “euphemize” also has a rhetorical meaning: a statement characterized by evasive or dismissive language.