Fox vs CGTN: Chinese and US TV hosts to go head to head on trade in prime time

Zhuang Pinghui
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Fox vs CGTN: Chinese and US TV hosts to go head to head on trade in prime time

Television anchors from China’s state broadcaster and the US president’s preferred network will face off on Wednesday in a highly anticipated debate over the trade war.

Liu Xin, host of The Point, a current affairs programme on CGTN, the overseas arm of China Central Television, will appear on Trish Regan Primetime on the Fox Business Network.

Regan challenged Liu to a debate after the Chinese host last week accused the American of being “emotional” in her assessment of the trade war and questioned one of the main figures Regan used to bolster her argument.

“She is so sure of US victimhood, so indignant, that her eyes practically spit fire,” Liu said. “Yet, in carefully analysing her words, it’s all emotion and accusation supported with little substance.”

Regan responded by saying that she had become the newest target in China’s information war against the US. “You picked the wrong fight here!” Regan said.

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The American then tweeted an invitation for a debate on “neutral” ground.

“You accuse me of being ‘emotional’ and not knowing my facts – wrong!”

Liu suggested on Twitter that she appear on Regan’s show on Monday for an “honest debate on trade” instead of a “mud throwing game”.

She said it was important to have a “meaningful discussion to try to understand each other better”.

Regan responded in a similarly civil tone and invited Liu to her show at 8pm Wednesday.

The debate comes as Beijing has ramped up its nationalistic rhetoric at home, publishing a series of commentaries and editorials on state media blaming Washington for the latest escalation in the tit-for-tat tariff war.

The official People’s Daily has run numerous opinion pieces rebutting various US claims and saying the trade war will not bring China to its knees.

Chinese state television has also had a war theme, airing movies on the 1950-1953 Korean war in which Chinese troops came to the North’s aid while the United States supported the South.

It was not clear if Wednesday’s debate would be broadcast live in China but reports about the event have appeared in Chinese state media, including People’s Daily, Global Times and CCTV, and the trending topic of “FOX host inviting Liu Xin to debate” had been read more than 100 million times by Saturday afternoon.

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While Twitter is banned in China and foreign networks are off limits to most residents, the event has become highly anticipated with Chinese internet users confident Liu will gain the upper hand.

“What we lack is a fair opportunity to speak in public for more people to understand the real China and the real so-called trade war and what real roles both countries have played,” one user on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, said.

“Way to go! The China threat theory is half incited by Western media and half silently admitted by us. What do US residents know? Without China refuting, of course they will believe the China threat theory,” another said.

Internet users said Liu, 44, a graduate of Nanjing University’s English department and a national English debate champion at university, had the skills to beat Regan in her native tongue.

“She will beat her in the language she [Regan] is good at and show how she can be sincerely convincing,” a Weibo user said.

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