UK media is reporting that as the Chinese Communist Party funds a surge in overseas media outlets, China is increasingly winning the global information war. According to an inews report, Chinese state-linked media outlets such as CGTN and Xinhua reach hundreds of millions of followers on Western social media platforms, out performing Western rivals such as BBC or CNN:
July 31, 2022 While Western news outlets have endured years of economic headwinds and cuts to resources, Chinese state journalism has been swimming in yuan since a global media expansion fund worth £5.4bn was created in 2009. Cash from Chinese Communist Party coffers has funded a surge in overseas television and radio channels, foreign bureaux and correspondents. Chinese-state media, reflecting Beijing’s drive for greater global influence, has signed partnerships with local outlets, from Italy’s public broadcaster RAI to media in Kenya and the Philippines. News from China Radio International or Chinese state news agency Xinhua is regularly translated and fed into local news bulletins. In this way, China puts positive spin on projects like its Belt and Road global trade initiative and promotes a pro-Russian narrative on the war in Ukraine. President Xi Jinping has told state broadcaster CGTN, which operates in 170 countries, to “tell China’s story well” and “spread China’s voice”. […] Today, CGTN has 118 million Facebook followers outside the People’s Republic. By comparison, the BBC has 58 million and CNN 39 million. Xinhua, which operates some 200 bureaux internationally, has 93 million while state-funded newspaper China Daily, which publishes 16 editions on four continents, has 105 million.
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The inews report cites a survey by the International Federation of Journalists in 58 countries, which found that 44 percent of respondents (and 75 percent from Africa) had a favorable view of Chinese investment in local media.
The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) has previously reported that Beijing’s strategy to cultivate a positive image of China has primarily succeeded in developing markets and that its influence efforts have had clear impacts in terms of eroding democratic institutions and bolstering authoritarianism. We have also covered various methods the Chinese government uses to influence opinions and shape perceptions worldwide, including:
- How its domestic and international disinformation operations have started to merge and how the country taps private businesses or media companies to carry out influence operations.
- How it employs an extensive network of more than 20 million internet trolls to amplify content favorable to the Chinese government.
- How it uses fake accounts to manipulate social media platforms.
- How it has flooded YouTube with propaganda videos.
- How it is cultivating foreign influencers or localizing Chinese propaganda.
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 could be considered part of the more wide-reaching united front network. In February 2021, the UK revoked the TV license for CGTN over its ties to the Communist Party.