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China’s influence creeps up on foreign media: Report. Rubbish, says Beijing

A new report on media freedom says the Communist Party of China (CPC) is rapidly expanding its influence on media abroad to spread propaganda and impact decisions.

world Updated: Jun 07, 2019 14:06 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
The Chinese foreign ministry dismissed the report as false with ulterior motives.(REUTERS FIL)

In a speech in early 2016, President Xi Jinping defined state media’s role in China’s authoritarian apparatus.

“Wherever the readers are, wherever the viewers are, that is where propaganda reports must extend their tentacles,” Xi told state media.

A new report on media freedom says the Communist Party of China (CPC) is doing exactly that: Rapidly expanding its influence on media abroad to spread propaganda and impact decisions.

“The CPC has developed the world’s most multilayered, dynamic, and sophisticated apparatus of media control at home, while vastly expanding its ability to influence media reporting, content dissemination, public debate, and in some cases, electoral politics, outside China,” says the report’s chapter “The Implications for Democracy of China’s Globalising Media Influence”.

The observations are part of Washington-based Freedom House’s new report titled, “Freedom and the Media: A Downward Spiral”.

The Chinese foreign ministry dismissed the report as “false” with “ulterior motives.

According to the report, however, China’s motive is to expand its influence on international media through well-sharpened strategies.

“Chinese authorities influence news media content around the world through three primary strategies: promoting the CPC’s narratives, suppressing critical viewpoints, and managing content delivery systems”.

The report highlights how through a variety of news distribution partnerships and social media, “…Chinese state media content now reaches hundreds of millions of people in numerous countries and languages. Efforts to more deeply penetrate foreign media markets and spread preferred CPC narratives show no sign of ebbing”.

The report suggests that the Chinese state media’s global propaganda is proving to be harmful in more than one ways : “These efforts have already undercut key features of democratic governance and best practices for media freedom by undermining fair competition, interfering with Chinese diaspora communities, weakening the rule of law, and establishing channels for political meddling.”

In a statement to HT, the foreign ministry said China’s outreach to other countries is to enhance mutual understanding.

“China carries out cultural exchanges and cooperation with other countries in order to enhance mutual understanding between China and other countries in the world and to draw closer between Chinese people and the people of other countries (sic) in the world. We believe that normal exchanges and cooperation should not be politicised. It is hoped that the relevant institutions will take a correct view and stop making irresponsible remarks,” the statement to HT added.

China needs to reach out to other countries because of its increasing influence in the world, the statement explained.

“Since the reform and opening up, China has made remarkable achievements in its development. Its overall national strength has been significantly improved (sic), playing an increasingly important role in the international arena, and increasingly becoming an important force in maintaining world peace and promoting common development. Correspondingly, China’s international status and influence are constantly rising, which is an objective law and fact,” the statement said.

First Published: Jun 07, 2019 14:04 IST