Home Asian News Civil Society and China's Global Media Footprint - The Diplomat

Civil Society and China’s Global Media Footprint – The Diplomat


The Diplomat’s author Mercy Kuo regularly engages topic experts, policy practitioners and strategic thinkers from around the globe for a diverse set of Asian policy insights. of the United States. This conversation with Sarah Cook – research director for China, Hong Kong and Taiwan at Freedom House and author of “China’s Global Media Footprint: The Democrat’s Response to Extending Dictator’s Influence”(The National Resource for Democracy 2021) – is the 267th work in“ A Series of Trans-Pacific Perspectives. “

Explain the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in countering China’s global media footprint.

Non-governmental organizations – including journalists, civil society groups, consulting organizations and technology companies – are playing a key role in documenting and combating coercive aspects. The regime and secrecy of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) global media footprint, often has some influence. One prime example is the exposing and analyzing disinformation campaigns and tactics on global social media platforms, a relatively new tactic in the Chinese party-state toolbox already appeared since 2017. In the past two years, investigative journalists, consulting organizations, technology companies and cybersecurity companies have created a documentary base on this topic and generate money topic for improvements in prevention, monitoring, and response. International social media companies have also taken new measures to track China-related inauthentic activity, remove problematic accounts, and implement labeling that clearly identifies accounts. state-sponsored or affiliated with the state of China.

Non-governmental organizations in a number of countries and regions have come up with new initiatives to oversee Chinese state media and other forms of CCP influence. These include projects to support investigative journalism related to China, documents on media reports and social media activities by Chinese diplomatic and state agencies. , in-depth case studies of influence networks in different contexts and well-informed policy summaries providing specific regulations, legislation, and other solutions to those make decision.

Identify four types of Chinese information campaigns to influence perceptions.

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The CCP’s tactics range from widely accepted traditional forms of public diplomacy and other forms of soft power, to covert operations, corruption, and coercion. These practices are not simply “telling Chinese stories”. Their sharper edges often undermine democratic norms, undermine national sovereignty, undermine the financial sustainability of independent media and violate local laws.

The different tactics used in efforts to engage with the Chinese state to manipulate the foreign information environment can be divided into four categories: propaganda, or actively promoting the content of the Chinese government and the pro-Beijing media and narratives; wrong information, meaning purposefully dissemination of misleading content to divide audiences and weaken social cohesion, increasingly through inauthentic activity on banned global social media platforms in China; censorship, including the suppression of unfavorable information and the obstruction of media outlets to criticize the regime; and gain influence over major nodes in the information flow, often requiring Chinese technology companies with close ties to the government to build or acquire content dissemination platforms in other countries.

Collectively, these tactics have expanded over the past decade to the point that hundreds of millions of news consumers around the world regularly view, read, or listen to information generated or influenced by the CCP without knowing the source. its root.

How does the CCP exploit the democratic gap?

With the rise of China as a global power and absolute human and financial resources that the CCP, state media, and Chinese technology entrepreneurs have made special investments to expand their reach. reaching foreign audiences, the CCP’s success in influencing foreign media and information flows is aided by existing weaknesses in democratic and semi-democratic countries, even when those weaknesses are not actively exploited by the CCP.

One of those weaknesses is the financial vulnerability of local media, partly due to market forces and technological changes, which make them more likely to accept advertisements. pay fees or sell ownership shares to companies or individuals closely affiliated with the PRC government. Media funding structure, including a reliance on advertising revenue, also creates opportunities for Chinese diplomats and companies to influence by sponsoring advertising or bullying businesses. others remove ads from disparaging stores, damaging their sustainability. Another dynamic is that in many parts of the world, there is a professional imbalance – especially about the CCP itself – between Chinese actors and local politicians, journalists, private organizations. and civil society in Beijing’s favor.

Identify the additional factors used to shape the public’s perception in democracies.

There are other factors that increase the vulnerability of democracies – especially to some form of political manipulation or election. One is the widespread use of Chinese-owned social media or news aggregator applications among both local Chinese community members and non-Chinese speakers. . Another factor is the high degree of political polarization, which causes distrust of the mainstream media and creates natural divisions or allies that are affiliated with the Chinese state. exploit for Beijing’s sake. High anti-American or anti-Western sentiment among the public in some countries, especially in regions such as Latin America, the Middle East, or Africa, may also dampen any U.S. warnings or European powers on the dangers of investment media from authoritarian states.

How should the civil society stakeholders of the United States and the West cooperate with their respective governments in the management of China’s media apparatus?

Civil society can help lawmakers and regulators unleash the convergence of media, content, telecommunications and data policy. More press freedom groups and advisory organizations can produce reader-friendly policy summaries and engage policy-makers to improve the inter-regulatory and regulatory framework. and prevent infringements of information access, such as arbitrary or bulk bans on Chinese-owned mobile phone applications. Civil society groups can also file complaints regarding regulators to foster stronger scrutiny where necessary laws and institutions already exist, as we saw in the Kingdom. UK and Australia recently. Advocacy goals may include regulatory scrutiny by Chinese state media and individuals involved, laws promoting transparency or investment screening, regulations. Legally restrict cross-ownership to protect popular content channels and protect data privacy strongly. There have also been some very interesting and effective joint initiatives between government-civil society-technology companies to combat the CCP’s misinformation in Taiwan, including around the election. January 2020.

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