Beijing - China’s propaganda war with the United States over their escalating trade dispute will reach a crescendo of sorts when a broadcaster from Chinese state television debates a Fox Business host in prime time on the U.S. cable network. From combative missives in state media and patriotic fervour on social media, to a mobilisation of ambassadors around the globe to get its message out, China has turned up the rhetorical heat since U.S. moves this month to increase tariffs on Chinese imports and blacklist tech giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd . In an escalation on Wednesday, the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, warned that China was ready to use its dominance of rare earths, crucial minerals used in electronics, to strike back in the trade war. But it is an unprecedented televised face-off between Liu Xin of China’s state-run English channel CGTN and Fox Business Network host Trish Regan, to air live on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern Time (0000 GMT), that has captivated many in China, with one social media hashtag on the Twitter-like Weibo garnering more than 120 million views. Their feud started on air and has been amplified on Twitter, which is blocked in China. Liu has been critical of Regan’s China coverage and Regan has taken up the challenge, calling on Liu to have an honest debate.
“She’s so sure of U.S. victimhood, so indignant that her eyes practically spit fire, yet in carefully analysing her words, it’s all emotion and accusation, supported with little substance,” Liu said of Regan on CGTN. Liu accused Regan of being “emotional” and misidentifying facts after Fox Business said in a May 14 report that China steals $600 billion in U.S. intellectual property annually. “They’re launching a full-scale information war against the United States of America, and their latest target is me,” Regan said on air and on Twitter this week. On China’s heavily censored internet, which blocks major Western news outlets, state broadcaster CCTV and the People’s Daily newspaper have shared news of the debate on Weibo. Other Chinese media outlets have joined in, some even circulating footage of Liu in an English speech competition from 23 years ago. “When it comes to debating, Liu Xin won’t feel any pressure,” said one Weibo user. Even foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang weighed in, telling a regular briefing he hoped everyone would watch the debate. But it was unlikely that ordinary folk in China would be able to see it in real time as Fox Business is not available to most viewers. Liu said on Twitter that because of rights issues, CGTN would not be able to show it live, though it would “report on it closely”.
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