Various stereotypes related to Christianity are often endorsed by modern journalism, especially in liberal media outlets, while other major religions are treated with more caution. Journalists from New York Times (NYT), a prominent liberal newspaper, made an obvious connection between the arrest of Wang Yi for “subversion of state power” and the detainment of Muslims in re-education camps (Mozur and Johnson). The NYT article did not focus on the Chinese religious crackdown and concluded that the real reason for Wang Yi’s sentence might have been his political stance against Xi Jinping and the illegal character of the church’s operations (Mozur and Johnson). Early Rain Covenant Church, founded by Wang Yi, did not register a kindergarten, an elementary school, and a bookstore that were part of it (Mozur and Johnson). Fox News, on the other hand, pointed out that politics had little to do with the sentence (Betz). Bradbury Betz stated that Wang Yi’s arrest was an act of religious hatred, similar to the incarceration of Islamic ethnic groups and the mistreatment of Tibetan children.
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The arrest of Wang Yi highlights the lack of religious freedom in modern China and the magnitude of authoritarian power the Communist party has over ethnic and religious minorities. It draws a lot of public attention to the Muslim crisis and the Buddhist mistreatment, even though the Western media response has not had much of an impact since the matters remain the same. The economic rise of China has made it immensely influential, but the lack of religious or political freedoms encouraged by the Chinese authorities can be a threat to global democratic efforts.
The media’s portrayal of the arrest is factual and quite detailed, as both articles present an elaborate analysis of the issues related to the religious oppression in China. While there is strong evidence arguing the presence of biased opinions in conservative and liberal media, with the latter one being more critical in its coverage of Christianity, both Fox News and NYT have managed to construct a cohesive, subjective argument (Zwartz). In my opinion, Paul Mozur and Ian Johnson are more successful in making an in-depth analysis of the political and legal implications of Wang Yi’s case instead of only labeling it as religious hatred. It is important to acknowledge the political stance of Wang Yi as it gives the public more insights into the authoritarian power of the Chinese leadership.
Betz, Bradford. “China Sentences Christian Pastor to 9 years in Prison.” Fox News, 2019.
Mozur, Paul, and Ian Johnson. “China Sentences Wang Yi, Christian Pastor, to 9 Years in Prison.” New York Times, 2019.
Zwartz, Barney. “Religion in the Media: How has it Changed, Where is it Going, Why does it Matter?” ABC, 2016.