Sunday, 18 July 2010

Now China blamed for BP oil spill. I mean: Hunh?

Pic from Don't Tea On Me

The latest in the Guardian's increasingly demented run of attempts to blame China for every disaster screeches out: "BP oil spill: failed safety device on Deepwater Horizon rig was modified in China". Tim Webb's article then goes on to admit:
There is no evidence that the significant modifications to the blowout preventer (BOP), which were carried out in China in 2005, caused the equipment to fail. But industry lawyers said BP could be made liable for any mistakes that a Chinese subcontractor made carrying out the work. It would be almost impossible to secure damages in China, where international law is barely recognised.

No evidence, but I guess the Guardian lives in hope.

In contrast, over at the Observer, their stablemate/rival, Tim Webb dispassionately reports the fact that there are moves afoot to "pass the buck" for responsibility away from BP's awful health and safety record, th'awl bidness's general screw-you to local communities, Halliburton's dodgy cement, and JR-style cronyism with ambitious/influential politicians, to China! When in doubt, blame the Chinese.
The Observer has learnt how Cameron [International, not Dave] will try to pin the blame on BP for the failure of the BOP: lawyers will claim that BP ordered Transocean to modify the BOP in China so significantly that the remodelled component no longer resembled what Cameron had originally manufactured.

A different emphasis entirely.

When the Western nations' duplicity over the secret Danish Text at the Copenhagen climate change summit was about to hit the headlines last December, The Guardian and Ed Milband led the field in switching attention (hey! Look over THERE!) to supposed machinations from China, in order to protect a deal that would have left the US still producing four times per capita the carbon emissions of the Chinese. My own attempts to join the debate and present an alternative argument at the Guardian's CiF (Comment Is Free, irony duly noted) resulted in my comments being deleted and my being banned.

In 2000, when the government's mishandling of the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in the UK resulted in pyres of culled livestock across this green and pleasant land, The Guardian was one of the loudest in suddenly accusing the UK Chinese of starting the outbreak (while the Independent was alone in maintaining a healthy scepticism). When this lunacy resulted in an apology and vindication from Nick Brown, minister at the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, the story melted away, with the late Hugo Young conceding in an email exchange that there were wheels within wheels, and one Guardian reporter telling a UK Chinese defence campaigner that there had been a dressing-down at the very top with the instruction that this should never happen again. If only Young were still with us and on watch ...

Isn't it about time the Guardian acted like a newspaper and offered us unbiased news reporting so we can make up our own minds? What is their agenda? What are they warming us up for? With the US conducting military exercises in the Yellow Sea and Cameron's statement that nuclear war with China is an option during the General Election campaign, is the West seriously building up to a conflagration with its giant economic rival? Could China's relationship with Iran be a factor, perchance?

As if we haven't had enough wars started by the West. Still, no war news is bad news if you happen to have arms industry companies in your share portfolio.

UPDATE: Note that both articles were by Tim Webb but with a different emphasis. The Observer's homepage featured the more sober headline and standfirst: "What lurks below the surface for BP? Even amid the 'cowboy culture' of offshore drilling, BP's operational record raises concerns BP safety device was sent to China"

The Observer piece acknowledges the buck-passing strategy currently being employed and makes it clear that "BP ordered Transocean to modify the BOP in China so significantly that the remodelled component no longer resembled what Cameron had originally manufactured." The implication is that the Chinese subcontractor only worked to BP/Transocean's money-saving specs.

The Guardian's home page, however, had the headline: "BP oil spill: failed safety device on Deepwater Horizon rig was modified in China." The piece by the same journalist implies that any fault — which has yet to be determined forensically — was down to Chinese work alone despite there being "no evidence" that any modifications had anything to do with the BOP failure at all.

It would be interesting to to know if either of these versions represents the actual views of the credited journalist.

UPDATE 2: Monday 19th July. As both articles seem to be good examples of objective reportage, containing some interesting material and placing the blame for the oil spill firmly with BP/Transocean, I am left wondering why the Guardian Online chose to foreground the China angle even though the article itself makes it clear that, "... the modifications were carried out at BP's request and "under its direction" ... '. It looks as if both headlines and standfirsts were written by eds at the Observer. The Observer home page led with the "What lies beneath the surface" angle, focusing on BP, and which features China as only part of the equation. Take out China and replace it with anywhere else in the world (India and South Korea also get these jobs) and you are still left with a cost-cutting scandal that is the responsibility of the oil industry. But the majority of the subsequent blizzard of Tweets didn't reflect this, homing in instead on China.

The Observer newspaper published the China angle on page 7, and the "Beneath the surface" article on page 36. So what is going on?

7 comments:

Gwei Mui said...

WTF! Ths is rich - isn't this kettle calling the pot black.

Madam Miaow said...

It's surreal. And the Guardian seems to be going along with this lunatic scramble to shift blame. I don't know why they keep on whipping up anti-Chinese feeling like this.

splinteredsunrise said...

That is genuinely pathetic. What's going on at the Guardian? We have no evidence China was to blame, but we're going to air the possibility anyway? I think we can mark that a fail.

Madam Miaow said...

A BIG fail. Maybe someone peed in their prawn balls.

harpymarx said...

Great isn't it, blame someone else for the disaster. Instead of admitting to this BP looks around and see who else they can blame. Appalling esp. as it is based on "passing the buck" as opposed to evidence. BP f*cked up so they should take responsibility!!

Yin said...

I never read the guardian, there's something dodgy there.

Blaming China again? I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. We live in a anti-china world now, sadly. China does have some bad points but the blame game is getting way out of hand here.

RealSocialist said...

This typical of journalist misinformation. What are we going to believe? Huh ... two reports from the same author with different conclusions.

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