MP ‘not happy’ at being unwitting star of Chinese propaganda film in Times Square

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West was surprised to find herself one of the stars of a Chinese

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West was surprised to find herself one of the stars of a Chinese propagnada film being played 120 times a day in New York's Times Square - Credit: Archant

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West said her views have been misrepresented as she found herself an unwitting “star” of a Chinese propaganda film in New York’s Times Square.

Ms West, a shadow foreign office minister, was “not happy” to see an snippet from an interview she gave on the South China Sea dispute playing on the big screen of the Big Apple 120 times a day over the past week.

The Labour MP had agreed to be interviewed on the delicate matter of the territorial dispute when she visited Beijing in May for a China-Europe forum – but said she did not expect to be portrayed as supporting China’s position.

In the footage, Ms West says: “I think talks are crucial, and that’s why we have to be careful that yes, we need to resolve something very locally and have a grown-up approach to dialogue.”

But her anodyne comment was seized upon by the Chinese government and included in its three minute video staking the country’s claim to the sea, as capitalism welcomed communism to Times Square.

Ms West said: “I am deeply concerned by (the film’s) assertions.

“Although I was of course happy to give an interview on my concerns regarding the militarisation of the South China Sea and the need to work together to secure a peaceful resolution, I am not happy for footage to be used in a way that suggests that I support the current approach adopted by China towards these islands.”

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Ms West, who has an MA in Chinese Studies and lived in the country as a post-graduate, said her parliamentary record shows she has “consistently raised concerns” over Chinese military deployment in the South China Sea” and that she has “urged the UK government to do all it can to ensure international law is upheld and that the region is stabilised for all parties concerned.”

Ms West also finds her role in British politics somewhat elevated in the film, which describes her as the “Shadow Foreign Secretary”. Although she didn’t join the recent wave of resignations from Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench team, Ms West accepted no such promotion, and remains a junior shadow minister, with responsibility for the Asia-Pacific region.

As reported in the Ham&High in May, Ms West expressed concerns over China’s current record on human rights and steel production during her recent visit.

The film was made after a Hague tribunal ruled in July that Beijing had violated international law by seizing submerged reefs off the coast of the Philippines.

Ms West said: “In regard to my quote within the video, I maintain that dialogue is crucial to securing peace in the region, the arbitration process at The Hague would have been such an opportunity for the dispute to have been settled in a grown-up way.”

According to Chinese state-controlled media, the film is “drawing a huge response” and “helping to correct falsehoods propagated by the Hague ruling”.