15:39 GMT +317 February 2019
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    China Orders State Media to Avoid Criticism of Trump amid Trade War – Reports

    © AFP 2018 / Greg Baker
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    The instruction comes despite an ongoing trade war between the two nations.

    China has reportedly ordered the state-controlled media to refrain from using "aggressive language" against US President Donald Trump, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.

    "It's been said that we should not use aggressive language for Trump," one of two unnamed sources from one of Chinese state-controlled media told to reporters.

    According to the report, state media have been instructed not to attack Donald Trump in person and instead keep the trade war topic a nation-on-nation issue. The rationale behind the decision is that insulting the nation's leader would only antagonize Trump and further complicate negotiations.

    However, SCMP reports that two other state-controlled media denied receiving instructions on Trump; despite that, the newspaper still considers the news plausible, because it reportedly mirrors an official media guide circulated on social media.

    According to the document, vulgar personal attacks are discouraged to avoid turning a trade debate into a "war of insults."

    "Restraining the state media is important, lest some enthusiastic reporters mention Trump in their pieces," says Sow Keat Tok, a University of Melbourne lecturer on China's foreign relations. "The message is not to antagonize Trump personally, but [to] keep the affair in the realm of state policy."

    The US, SCMP notes, seems to have also implemented a policy of not insulting President Xi Jinping; Donald Trump has meticulously avoided insults, as he has sometimes even praised the Chinese leader despite any conflicts that the two nations face.

    In his Twitter, Trump said that he and Xi Jinping "will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade."

    In April, Trump also said he was "very thankful for President Xi of China's kind words on tariffs and automobile barriers," adding that the two leaders "will make great progress together!"

    Tom McGregor, a Beijing-based Asia-Pacific commentator and senior editor for China's national TV broadcaster CCTV, dismissed the report in a comment to Sputnik.

    "The claims that the Chinese media has been ordered to write nice commentaries about US President Donald J. Trump in order to de-escalate tensions over trade wars do not appear to be true," McGregor said.

    He stressed that he had not received any editorial instructions of this kind. He added that he had even asked his Chinese colleagues if they had seen the letter in question and they informed him that this was not the case.

    "Not sure how this rumor started and why the South China Morning Post is claiming it is true, but they cite unnamed sources," McGregor said. "I’m going on the record. I have not [seen] or heard about any other colleagues at CCTV.com receiving such a letter."


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    instructions, media, Xi Jinping, Donald Trump, China, United States