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We are urging the media to disarm the discourse by rejecting sourcing from anonymous intelligence officials with a pro-war bias and instead engage in ethical and common-sense journalism regarding China.

Dear Editorial Staff (The New York Times/The Wall Street Journal),

Before the US military shot down a Chinese weather balloon earlier this year, your outlets cited unnamed officials who claimed it was a spy vessel. This not only escalated tensions with another nuclear-armed state; it also led to attacks on civilian balloons and an increase in anti-Asian hate. The New York Times uncritically published a story about the US State Department’s global propaganda campaign to scare other countries about the threat of Chinese balloon surveillance. On June 29, when US Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder refuted claims the balloon collected data, a Wall Street Journal article published a story using the phrase “spy balloon” on the same day.

From stories about the supposed threat of Chinese AI capabilities to the COVID-19 lab leak theory, the media has been consistently getting China wrong. A Princeton University study found Americans who perceive China as a threat were more likely to stereotype Chinese people as untrustworthy and immoral. As we approach the 2024 presidential elections (usually a period of increased anti-China hate) and the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, there are still many among the American public who DO NOT want tensions to escalate; neither do we want Chinese Americans and Chinese nationals in the US to be afraid for their lives.

Faced with this crisis in coverage, we demand ethical and common-sense journalism that seeks truth from facts, not rumors and omissions. Moreover, the overhanded use of anonymous intelligence officials is doing a disservice to bilateral relations and potentially puts us on the path to a hot war in the Pacific. We urge you to go beyond the reliance on shoddy intelligence, which has led us to multiple wars abroad over the past two decades.

We implore your publications, which set a crucial part of the national agenda, to accurately report about China and China-US relations. Not only will this help advance a normal relationship between the world’s two largest economies. It could lay the groundwork for mutual understanding and a more well-informed public discourse in the US when it comes to China. That way, we won’t repeat the mistakes of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, in which the UN estimates 9,000 civilians have died as of July 2023. We urge you to disarm the discourse!

Onwards to peace!

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