Chinese Media and its Global Propaganda Campaign
Author Himanya Chadha
Over the past decades, national governments across the globe have invested in global news media such as Al Jazeera English (Middle East) , Telesur (Latin America) and China Global Television (CGTN) to shape their global perspective and image in different regions and build more soft power for their respective nations.
The Case of China: Negative Image
The Chinese state has increased investment in global media operations since 2008 as it became more aware of its tarnished image across the world due to its human rights record, growing military power, political system etc. After a BBC poll of 28 nations in the last decade, it proved that the only nations that viewed China in a positive light were Pakistan and Africa, whereas the Asian subcontinent, Latin America and North America shared a poor image of China, the Chinese government decided to take various steps to improve its image.
The Case in 2008
2008 was the year of China’s ascent to global power marked by change in its development schemes and economic reforms aimed towards social harmony. However despite China’s growing status as the upcoming political and economic superpower, the Chinese government was shocked by the “hostile” media coverage China received; scrutinizing it for its human rights record in relation to Falun Gong, the Tibetan riots, perspectives on Darfur etc. This led to China being perceived as a rogue communist nation that does not abide by international rules. This was the turning point for China when it realized that global power does not ensure a favorable perception of China worldwide. To counter this China decided to take matters into its own hands instead of depending on Western media to change its critical perspective of China.
China Taking Matters in Its Own Hands
China invested in a wide range of institutions and activities such as efforts to establish Chinese media organizations in media environments abroad. China invested almost $8.7 billion between 2009-2010 in the “Big Four”: Xinhua News Agency, China Central Television (CCTV), the China Daily newspaper and China Radio International (CRI). These four media outlets aim to give a less propagandistic image of China to the rest of the world by hiring foreigners anchors, diversifying their radio programs, newspapers publishing a higher number of investigative stories and by making web sites becoming more informative.
Furthermore Xinhua TV is trying to imitate Al Jazeera through its 24 hour news channel; CRI bought more air time in various FM and AM radio markets in Europe and USA, while directly broadcasting in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa; CCTV News is competing with BBC and CNN.
The Role CGTN
For example the CGTN video, ‘In Remembrance: 10th Anniversary of the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ glorifies traditional Chinese culture, speaks about the country’s athletic achievements as well as China’s contribution to the Olympics to highlight China’s economic power, infrastructure and expertise. CGTN’s video focuses on China’s rich historical and cultural landscape by using a sporting event such as the Olympics as a platform to showcase the country’s unique features to the world in hope that this will erase the negative stereotypes associated to China. It further addresses stereotypes that say China subjects its athletes to inhuman sports regime nut the video showcases the Chinese community’s passion for sports and tries to combat this stereotype as well. This proves that China uses global media such as CGTN as part of its soft power strategy by using sports as a redemption for its image. Since CGTN is funded by the Chinese government due to which its editorial policy is pro establishment and it is known to act as a mouthpiece of the government.