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Chinese State Propaganda Enters Western Mainstream News Outlets Through Advertorial Inserts

April 26th, 2021 15:06

The Jamestown Foun­da­tion, a US think tank, is report­ing that China’s state pro­pa­gan­da appa­ra­tus is expand­ing its influ­ence among for­eign audi­ences through what are described as “adver­to­r­i­al inserts” in West­ern main­stream media out­lets, both hard­copy and online. Accord­ing to a Jamestown Foun­da­tion report:

April 12, 2021 A long his­to­ry exists of PRC state media out­lets pay­ing for “adver­to­r­i­al” inserts into major U.S. news­pa­pers such as the Wash­ing­ton Post, Wall Street Jour­nal and New York Times—often under the ban­ners of “Chi­na Watch” or “Chi­na Focus,” which are both head­ings used by Xin­hua for its Eng­lish-lan­guage con­tent (see accom­pa­ny­ing images). The arti­cles in these inserts are intend­ed to look like news and edi­to­r­i­al mate­r­i­al pre­sent­ed by the host news­pa­per (albeit accom­pa­nied by dis­claimers, often in small print), but rep­re­sent pro­pa­gan­da con­tent pre­pared by the CCP’s for­eign media appa­ra­tus. […] While Xinhua’s hard­copy news­pa­per inserts have been the sub­ject of atten­tion for many years, far less atten­tion has been giv­en to the migra­tion of this mate­r­i­al to elec­tron­ic media—where it has the poten­tial to reach even wider audi­ences, and in some instances to be more specif­i­cal­ly tai­lored towards par­tic­u­lar tar­get audiences. […]

For sev­er­al years and con­tin­u­ing through­out much of 2020, the Wall Street Jour­nal (WSJ) has host­ed spon­sored Xin­hua mate­r­i­al on a WSJ-asso­ci­at­ed Chi­na Watch web­page. Accord­ing to the pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned FARA doc­u­ments, from the peri­od of Novem­ber 2019 to April 2020 WSJ was the recip­i­ent of an undis­closed amount of CDDC adver­tis­ing funds; in May-June 2020 the WSJ received $85,296.69, but pay­ments for 2020 appar­ent­ly ceased at that point. Dur­ing this peri­od, WSJ appears to have can­celled, or at least paused, its busi­ness rela­tion­ship with CDDC: although the WSJ-host­ed web­page for Chi­na Dai­ly con­tent remains online as of March 31, 2021, it no longer pro­vides active links to any articles.

Read the rest here.

The report notes that the New York-based Chi­na Dai­ly Dis­tri­b­u­tion Cor­po­ra­tion (CDDC), an affil­i­ate of China’s state media out­let Xin­hua, serves as the exec­u­tive agent for pro­mot­ing Chi­nese pro­pa­gan­da “adver­to­r­i­al” con­tent in North Amer­i­ca. The report also notes that between Novem­ber 2019 — Octo­ber 2020, the CDDC received almost $10 mil­lion from its par­ent com­pa­ny to sup­port print­ing and adver­tis­ing costs (both print and online) for Xin­hua materials.

Recent Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) cov­er­age of China’s influ­ence oper­a­tions includes:

  • In April, we report­ed that Chi­na is using West­ern YouTu­bers to defend itself against accu­sa­tions of human rights vio­la­tions in Xinjiang.
  • In March, an exclu­sive GIOR  inves­ti­ga­tion exposed a Chi­nese influ­ence oper­a­tion flood­ing YouTube with hun­dreds of pro­pa­gan­da videos white­wash­ing China’s human rights vio­la­tions in Xin­jiang and push­ing the hash­tag #StopX­in­jian­gRu­mors.
  • In March, we also report­ed that Chi­na tries to con­trol its inter­na­tion­al stu­dents study­ing at Scot­tish uni­ver­si­ties through stu­dent associations.