Freedom House has issued a report titled “Beijing’s Global Media Influence 2022, Authoritarian Expansion and the Power of Democratic Resilience,” arguing that the Chinese government, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, is “accelerating a massive campaign to influence media outlets and news consumers around the world. The report begins:
The Chinese government, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, is accelerating a massive campaign to influence media outlets and news consumers around the world. While some aspects of this effort use the tools of traditional public diplomacy, many others are covert, coercive, and potentially corrupt. A growing number of countries have demonstrated considerable resistance in recent years, but Beijing’s tactics are simultaneously becoming more sophisticated, more aggressive, and harder to detect. The regime’s investment has already achieved some results, establishing new routes through which Chinese state media content can reach vast audiences, incentivizing self-censorship on topics disfavored by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and co-opting government officials and media owners in some countries to assist in spreading propaganda narratives or suppressing critical coverage. Beijing’s actions also have long-term implications, particularly as it gains leverage over key portions of the information infrastructure in many settings. The possible future impact of these developments should not be underestimated. Moreover, the experience of countries including Taiwan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia point toward a recent turn to more aggressive, confrontational, or surreptitious tactics as milder influence efforts fail to achieve the desired results.
The key findings of the report are:
- The Chinese government has expanded its global media footprint.
- The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its proxies are using more sophisticated and coercive tactics to shape media narratives and suppress critical reporting.
- The success of Beijing’s efforts is often curtailed by independent media, civil society activity, and local laws protecting press freedom.
- Inadequate government responses leave countries vulnerable or exacerbate the problem.
- Democracies’ ability to counter CCP media influence is alarmingly uneven.
- Long-term democratic resilience will require a coordinated response.
Read the rest here.