Source: Global Times Published: 2019-5-31
As the profile of China Global Television Network (CGTN)'s Liu Xin rises, following a debate with a US anchor on Thursday, so do applause and scrutiny, from both home and overseas.
After Liu appeared on Trish Regan's prime time show on the Fox Business Network on Thursday, some foreign viewers continue to question her background. In China, most applauded her performance, even though some criticized Liu for what they believe not being tough enough.
In an interview with the Global Times on Friday, Liu, who hosts The Point with Liu Xin, defended her decision to engage in an honest debate rather than a fight.
"Increasingly, I feel my choice was right. Why? Because she proposed an honest debate and I agreed… and honesty is not to stonewall all her questions," Liu said. "That way doesn't help eliminate misunderstandings but you actually confirm their negative views about you."
After days of sparring online with Regan, Liu appeared on the Trish Regan Primetime show, where Liu answered questions from Regan about a wide range of topics, from the China-US trade relationship to China's economic system.
"It's the first time that a Chinese TV journalist did this in my memory. [She] is already a trailblazer," David Yang, a media studies student at the Communication University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Friday. "I'm completely impressed with her charm and intelligence."
But not everyone was impressed.
In stark contrast to their aggressive style in their online feud, the two anchors appeared surprisingly civil and polite in the interview, which led some to express disappointment. And some in China even criticized Liu for being "soft" at a time when anti-US tariffs sentiment is running high.
"Being soft will only make others think that you can be bullied," a Sino Weibo user wrote Friday on the Twitter-like social media platform. Some even went personal by questioning Liu's citizenship likely because her husband is a German citizen.
"This is a trick that has been played before. It's boring," she said. "I am 100 percent Chinese and only Chinese. I have no other citizenship."
Though scrutiny of celebrities is normal, "personal attacks like this are absolutely uncalled for," Zhang Yiwu, a professor at the Peking University, told the Global Times on Friday. "She did just fine holding her line and was very eloquent."
Some foreign media reports have also painted Liu's rise as a sign of Chinese journalists becoming more confident and even assertive in dealing with their foreign counterparts as part of what some, including Regan, described as an information war against the US.
For Liu, confidence and assertiveness does not necessarily mean a bad thing. "Before we didn't have much of a say or had a weaker voice. So we must have confidence!" she said, adding that if others are accusing you of something without grounds, then being assertive is also right.
Liu previously added a segment called Headline Buster, where she critiques inaccurate or biased reporting in foreign media about China and where she got into the online tiff with Regan when she criticized the US anchor for being "emotional" with "little substance" in defending the US administration's trade war with China.
But the episode with Regan proved to be constructive, as both anchors continued to exchange pleasantries on Twitter, and agreed that they had an informative dialogue. Regan on Friday even extended an invitation to Liu to appear on her show for a second time, to which Liu replied "I'd love to."
Many have also called for a second debate between the two anchors, but Liu suggested that it might take a while before that. "Good things should stop at some point. Going beyond the limit is as bad as falling short," she said.
Still, Liu said that this was just the start and anything is possible in the future. "It's possible that it will become a common practice as there will be more and more things like this. Then, that will be the best," she said.
Zhang Yiwu is a senior fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.