The US-China trade talks may be on hold but their war on words is heating up, with Chinese and US TV anchors primed for a rare television debate that Beijing hopes will prove a popular draw.
An anchor from China’s English-language state broadcaster CGTN and a presenter from FoxBusiness — part of President Donald Trump’s favourite news network — have agreed to the unusual showdown after trading barbs on social media.
The verbal spat erupted when CGTN anchor Liu Xin, host of “The Point”, took offence to a description of China in the Trish Regan Primetime show.
Liu slammed Regan for her “economic warmongering”, after the latter accused China of “stealing as high as $600 billion in intellectual property” every year from the US,
Regan shot back immediately on her show saying “the Chinese are launching a full scale information war against the United States of America and their newest target, me”.
She also challenged Liu on Twitter to an “HONEST debate on #trade,” which Liu accepted saying she doesn’t want to “play any mud throwing game”.
The live debate is slated for Wednesday 8:00 pm (1200 GMT) and Liu will appear on Regan’s show.
Chinese state media has chimed in — helping to drum up interest — with the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily mentioning the debate on its official social media and it’s sister paper, the Global Times, announcing the showdown in an article.
I hear you. Will get back to you very soon. But I don’t want to play any mud throwing game, if that’s what you prepare to do. https://t.co/ytXZN5Lk2m
— LIU Xin (@thepointwithlx) May 24, 2019
Even China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang chipped in saying “I’m like everyone, I’m interested in it. I hope everyone will watch it”, during a regular briefing Tuesday.
It is unclear whether the debate will be broadcast live for Chinese audiences.
Regan’s Fox biography says she is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations and a Columbia University graduate, while Liu Xin kicked off her career by winning the 1996 International Public Speaking Competition in English.
Since a date was set for the battle of wits, a video of Liu competing in an international English speech competition in 1996 in London has been widely circulated on Chinese social media.
Reactions to the debate on Chinese social media was mixed.
While well-heeled, tech-savvy young nationalists who call themselves China’s “Little Pink” army on social media has called Regan “a demagogue like Trump” others have used it to make tongue-in-cheek comments on China’s online and media censorship.
“There is no point to debate with govt controlled news reporter if it isn’t broadcast live and unfiltered to mainland on real time,” said one Twitter user. “Otherwise, you are helping CCP which can declare a victory no matter what the result is with edited version.”
“Explain why the official media can tweet, but the people is not allowed?” asked a user China’s Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo.
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