This week, humanity made first contact with the dark side of the moon, thanks to China. A Chinese unmanned spacecraft, Chang’e-4, has been able to send back visuals of just what it looks like:
Chinese media exploded in a burst of pride. Given this is the first time any human contact has been made with the back of the moon and the achievement had been lauded as ‘impressive’ by Nasa, you might expect the state newspapers to have been a little smug or superior. But coverage has been surprisingly gracious and lauded the moment as significant for mankind. The People’s Daily newspaper writes a technical front-page story, with the headline – ‘First time! Chang’e-4 realises human contact with the dark side of the moon. First picture! Short distance picture taken of the surface and transmitted back to Earth.’
The front-page story is a technical explanation of the science that made this landing possible and its significance. Xinhua news agency, the Chinese equivalent of Reuters, follows suit with the non-political coverage. It created an entire interactive webpage to explain the landing.
Xinhua writes that ‘at this moment, the world is watching China!’ and ‘this mission… shows that our country has entered the ranks of countries with the ability to explore space.’
But not everyone got the memo. One tabloid blog gleefully tears apart a New York Times article it deems biased. This was the headline from the Global Times, a hawkish paper that is the country’s most popular tabloid.
‘Tsk, Chang’e-4 has only just landed, and American media is already starting to get sour!’
‘Ambition or not, it’s probably not up to you foreigners to judge?’
‘Emmm… of course this sort of technology is sensitive, why should we reveal all to you?’
In a questionable – or maybe not – logical conflation, the target then turns to the EU.