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China coercing, cajoling media in at least 18 countries for favourable narrative

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(TibetanReview.net, Sep13’22) – Apart from conventional public diplomacy, China is employing a wide range of clandestine, coercive, and sometimes corrupt methods to ensure that the media in 18 democratic countries, especially in Africa, are favourable to it and its president Xi Jinping, according to new research released Sep 12 by US-based Freedom House.

What is more, the report, “Beijing’s Global Media Influence 2022: Authoritarian Expansion and the Power of Democratic Resilience,” said Beijing’s strategies, involving the spending of billions of dollars, are becoming concurrently more advanced, aggressive, and difficult to counter.

In particular, the report noted: “Mass distribution of Beijing-backed content via mainstream media, harassment and intimidation of outlets that publish news or opinions disfavored by the Chinese government, and the use of cyberbullying, fake social media accounts, and targeted disinformation campaigns are among the tactics that have been employed more widely since 2019.”

China’s investment of billions of dollars in these activities have already shown some benefits, creating new channels for Chinese state media programming to reach large audiences and encouraging self-censorship on subjects the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) finds objectionable, the report noted.

China’s efforts have long-term effects as well, particularly as it establishes control over significant facets of the information infrastructure in numerous contexts. While this has generated concerns about the media landscape, the trend is expected to spread to more nations in the coming years, the report said.

More nations—as well as their researchers, journalists, and policymakers—should prepare for an increase in diplomatic intimidation, cyberbullying, social media manipulation by paid influencers, and targeted defamation campaigns meant to create misunderstanding about the CCP and their own societies, the report warned.

The 79-page report has covered Beijing’s media influence in 30 countries that include the US and countries in the Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle-East and North Africa.

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