The New Zealand Herald has removed a paid Chinese government propaganda piece from its website after a furious backlash from readers.
The paper had quietly published an article, produced by China Communist Party mouthpiece The People’s Daily, detailing Chinese president Xi Jinping’s personal crusade against poverty.
It featured lengthy quotes from the Communist Party dictator as well as quotes from citizens praising his leadership.
But the article, headlined “Relocation and revitalisation see 100m people lifted out of poverty”, was quickly removed when readers complained that it was blatant communist party propaganda.
A NZ Herald spokesperson told media website The Spinoff that the article was published because of a commercial agreement with China.
“This came out of a commercial agreement that sees us host a very small amount of sponsored content online, which is clearly labelled as sponsored,” the spokesperson said.
“It’s made clear that the advertiser takes full responsibility for the content, and that the NZ Herald doesn’t necessarily agree with nor endorse any opinions contained within.
“However, following reader feedback on this particular advertisement, it has now been removed and we are reviewing this type of sponsored content arrangement moving forward.”
Former NZ Herald editor Gavin Ellis said newspapers should be able to publish appropriately labelled paid content, but that a deal with the Chinese government was entirely different.
“It’s coming from an increasingly autocratic state, it should be treated with great care, in the interests of their readers,” he said.
He said that reprinting articles from The People’s Daily was tantamount to promoting the views of the Chinese Communist Party leadership to New Zealanders.