Trevor Noah said WHAT!?
On December 16th, a new episode of Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show aired, containing a segment called “Why is China in Africa”1, which spread blatantly false information about the “debt trap diplomacy” myth. Noah said that China’s investment was “less like a loan, and a lot more like a new kind of colonialism.” The full 13-minute Youtube clip2 briefly became viral and trended.
The myth of “debt trap diplomacy” claims that China is using its financial resources to ensnare African countries, coercing them to hand over their natural resources at lower prices. The implication is that China holds large amounts of Africa’s debts, but this doesn’t hold water when we look at the numbers. "...China is, in fact, not the largest creditor given that the multilateral financial institutions and the private sector own 35 and 32 percent, respectively, of Africa’s debt. China’s own share is only 20 percent."3
When it comes to China, dangerous and antagonizing misinformation is not limited to right-wing outlets like Fox News and The Daily Caller! Just because Noah threw in an off-handed “we love the Chinese people, not the the government” line and “#StopAsianHate” does not negate the damage of painting the entire country of China as a predatory loan shark!
What was the intention and purpose of devoting energy, money and airtime to disparaging China? Who does an episode like this serve? Is Trevor Noah a voice for peace or war?
Although categorized as “satire” or “comedy,” programs like The Daily Show are treated as factual news, and as Trevor Noah is a South African, people would be likely to regard him as an authority on topics related to the African continent.
The trend of news stories denouncing China as a threat is just a convenient set-up to justify the U.S.'s increasing military aggression. We’ve seen this before, we know the playbook now.
The Daily Show program description says that Noah “sits down with people making news to get their unfiltered takes on U.S. culture, foreign affairs, and more,” but Noah felt credentialed and qualified enough himself to speak for all African peoples on the Chinese-African relationship.
The myth of “debt trap diplomacy” has been debunked many times, yet we keep seeing a resurgence of this false narrative on platforms that people would consider to be “credible” sources for other news.
The only natural conclusion to vilifying China in the media is a real cost to life. From unwanted, destructive U.S. military occupation throughout the Pacific to clear spikes in hate crimes against Asians domestically, the U.S. hybrid war on China already has casualties and the body count will only increase with programs like The Daily Show spreading anti-China misinformation. Throwing in a single haphazard mention of a hashtag does not change that reality.
It was utterly irresponsible and actively harmful for Trevor Noah to mis-educate his audience on this front with a poorly-written 13-minute “comedy” skit.
Sign the petition to tell Trevor Noah that China is NOT our enemy! Stop spreading dangerous misinformation that will only increase US aggression on China and add to growing anti-China sentiments both at home and abroad!
Become a better educated audience with CODEPINK by joining the China Is Not Our Enemy campaign on Tuesday, January 18th at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET for a webinar on what China is REALLY doing in Africa!
“A Closer Look at China in Africa” will feature speakers Kambale Musavuli–a Congolese advocate, writer, and analyst with the Center for Research on the Congo-Kinshasa–and Mikaela Nhondo Erskog–an educator and researcher with Pan Africanism Today, researcher at the Tricontinental Institute, and member of the organizing committee at No Cold War.
Onward toward peace,
Jodie, Lauren, the CODEPINK China Is Not Our Enemy campaign, and CODEPINK