China is working to influence media outlets beyond its borders in an effort to impose its ideology and deter criticism of its actions, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said yesterday in a report.
In China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order, the press freedom group detailed what it said was China’s impact on a global decline in press freedom and analyzed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) strategy to control information outside his own country.
The group found that Beijing was using advertising buys, paid for journalists’ trips and used an expanding global propaganda network to impose its “ideologically correct” terminology and to obscure darker chapters of the country’s history.
Photo: Taipei Times
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement that he hoped the report released yesterday would help spur countries to action.
“If democracies do not resist, ‘Chinese-style’ propaganda will gradually invade the world’s media, competing with journalism as we know it,” he said.
The project to control the media is less well-known than Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, but just as ambitious, and China’s strategy includes extensive advertising buys in global media, including the Wall Street Journal, Le Figaro and the Daily Telegraph, the report said.
Written entirely by teams from state-owned media, these supplements carry official Chinese messages for foreign readers, the report said.
There has also been a major investment in developing media capable of reaching people worldwide, with state-run broadcaster China Global Television Network now in 140 countries and China Radio International airing in 65 languages.
Tens of thousands of journalists from emerging countries have been brought to Beijing on all-expenses-paid trips to “train their critical mind” in exchange for favorable coverage of China in their home outlets, the report said.
The Chinese government has carried out unspecified acts of blackmail, intimidation and harassment on a “massive scale,” it said.
“Through its embassies and its network of Chinese culture-and-language Confucius Institutes, China no longer hesitates to harass and intimidate in order to impose its ‘ideologically correct’ vocabulary and cover up the darker chapters in its history,” the report states.
“The new world media order which the Chinese authorities are promoting around the world is against journalism,” said Cedric Alviani of group’s East Asia Bureau in Taipei. “It is a new media order in which the journalist works for the state not for the citizen.”
Beijing is also exporting its censorship and surveillance tools, including the Baidu search engine and WeChat instant messaging platform, and encouraging authoritarian states to copy its repressive regulations, a particularly effective strategy in Southeast Asia, Alviani said.
Beijing’s influence is far reaching in the Chinese-language media outside China, the report said.
In Taiwan, the China Times underwent a radical change in its editorial policies after being bought by a pro-Beijing company in 2008, the report said.
The New York-based World Journal — owned by Taiwan’s United Daily News Group and which has many overseas Chinese readers in Thailand and the US — has also toned down its coverage of China, the report said.
The Chinese-language media in the US are now dominated by Qiaobao (China Press) and the SinoVision TV channel, which are discreetly controlled by the Chinese authorities and use content taken directly from China’s state media, it said.
In Australia, Beijing is said to have infiltrated about 95 percent of the Chinese-language newspapers, the report said.
The Sing Tao, a Hong Kong Chinese-language tabloid daily founded in 1938 that has many overseas Chinese readers in Asia, Australia and North America, was taken over in the late 1990s by a pro-Beijing businessman, the report said.
China yesterday dismissed the report, with Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) accusing Reporters Without Borders of a long-time bias against China.
“Their accusations aren’t worthy of rebutting,” he said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.
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