Firstly, the relative extent of the coverage:
9,870,000 results versus 158,000. Well that’s hardly surprising, since this is a US party to which China is most emphatically not invited.
But what about the content?
The Google results cluster around a few main themes:
2. Not saving the world.
3. Giving the Russians a good kicking.
4. Guardian comment pieces.
6. The South China Sea (pay close attention to this, it will crop up again)
The Chinese search results read somewhat differently. Of course, this can be attributed in part to the fact that Baidu’s algorithms comply with state censorship policy, but it also reflects the meeting point between the interests, prejudices and concerns of Chinese readers and journalists in the same way that Google does in the West.
And these are:
1. Those wily Japs are up to something.
(‘Japan uses G7 to attempt to denigrate China’, ‘Abe fighting for a leading role at the G7’, ‘Despite Abe’s efforts, G7 statement does not mention China’, ‘Abe is the one behind G7 leaders’ questioning of China’)
2. We are not impressed.
(‘Having achieved little, the G7 is not an impressive sight’, ‘Sloganeering over, the G7 retires’, ‘Member countries’ schemes come to a sad ending at the G7 summit’, ‘G7 leaders’ small talk cost 90,000 euros per minute’, ‘G7 just bread and circuses, but Abe still villifying China’)
3. International strategy and diplomatic manoeuvering.
(‘Japanese media: Putin’s visit to Japan is intended to sow disorder within the G7’, ‘US and Japan try to use G7 to contain China, to little effect’)
4. The South China Sea (I said it would crop up again).
(‘Live: Obama attends G7 press conference but refuses to discuss China issue’, ‘Obama G7 press conference plays down China issue’)
5. Celebrity gossip. (In China, as in much of the developing world, political power remains sexy, and these events are, to a certain extent, treated like showbiz galas in the West.)
(Attending a G7 meeting with a cigarette packet in hand? Obama may have broken his resolution to quit smoking)
6. Giving Russia a kicking.
(‘Foreign media: G7 will increase pressure on Russia and make it pay a higher price’, ‘G7 summit focus on Ukraine: sanctions against Russia must not stop’, US Treasury Secretary: G7 must prepare to strengthen sanctions against Russia’, ‘US Treasury Secretary: G7 allies must prepare to strengthen sanctions against Russia’)
7. Failing to give Russia a kicking.
(‘Foreign media: developing countries increasingly capable of frustrating G7 pressure on Russia’; if you were wondering which ‘foreign media’ is being referenced here, the article quotes from the Shankei Shimbun, the Mainichi Shimbun and the Handelsblatt.)
8. Saving the world.
(‘G7 summit: eliminate fossil fuel emissions this century’)
So what’s up with that South China Sea thing?
The Chinese insistence that the G7 has not addressed the ‘the China issue‘ (it refers to itself as a ‘problem‘, with, one suspects, a certain degree of pride) is particularly interesting in light of the fact that the Western media is fully convinced – as we saw above -that the G7 has taken a tough stance against China’s actions in the South China Sea and that the Chinese government is on the defensive.
Is the Chinese government using domestic media to mislead its people about the international implications of its actions? Or is the West overestimating the extent to which the rest of the world cares about its admonishments? Or is it a bit of both?