US media is reporting that major Chinese state-run broadcaster CGTN is buying ads on Facebook targeting global users with English-language briefings and newscasts featuring pro-Russian talking points about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to an Axios report:
March 9, 2022 Ads from Chinese state broadcaster CGTN are running on Meta-owned Facebook, targeting global users with pro-Russian talking points about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The big picture: Beijing views Russia as a close partner, and has stayed by Putin’s side as he invaded Ukraine, even going so far as to blame the invasion on the U.S. and NATO. Details: China Global TV Network, a China state-controlled outlet with nearly 118 million followers on Facebook and 2.4 million on Instagram, placed at least 21 advertisements on Facebook this month, most featuring newscasts about the war or media briefings from Chinese officials. […] Many of the ads, which are mostly clips of CGTN newscasts, sprinkle in pro-Russia, anti-NATO talking points and downplay Russia’s actions in launching an unprovoked invasion of its neighbor.
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The Axios report notes the China Global Television Network (CGTN) is an international news channel controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and claims to reach 1.2 billion people worldwide, including 30 million households in the US. A 2021 NATO study has identified CGTN as one of China’s main proxy non-state influence actors abroad and concluded it can be considered part of the more wide-reaching united front network.
In May 2021, the Global Influence Operations Report reported that the UK revoked the TV license for CGTN over its ties to the Communist Party and that China retaliated by banning the BBC. We have also reported that in 2020, CGTN spent more than $50 million on its US operations, accounting for nearly 80% of total Chinese spending on influencing US public opinion and policy.
A report by the China Digital Times, a US-based media outlet, recently revealed that Chinese media outlets have been told to avoid posting anything unfavorable to Russia or pro-Western on their social media accounts and to only use hashtags started by Chinese state media outlets.
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