According to a recent study, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is increasing its influence in foreign media to change public opinion about its image.

While communist propaganda has been strong, according to the report, it has also been met with “unexpected” resistance.

The human rights group, Freedom House, released a report, on September 8, titled Beijing’s Influence on Global Media: Authoritarian Expansion and the Power of Democratic Resilience.

Freedom House highlighted “democratic resilience” in its research, referring refers to the efforts by local journalists as well as activists, governments, and news consumers to curb the narrative of the CCP.

The study covered 30 countries, between 2019 and 2021, and the CCP’s actions have ranked in attacks at “high” or “very high.”

The countries that suffered the greatest attacks on their media were: Taiwan, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

But there were also intense attacks in countries such as Nigeria, Spain, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, and Argentina, reflecting the global reach of the communist regime’s ambitions.

Countries were also classified as resilient or vulnerable to CCP influence. Among the most vulnerable is Nigeria, where the CCP has made significant economic investments.

In addition, recent authoritarian changes and declining press freedom in the West African country make Nigeria more susceptible to the CCP’s efforts.

However, the most resilient country is Taiwan, where citizens held mass protests in the thousands, as was the case with the “anti-red media” demonstration in front of the Taiwanese presidential palace on June 23, 2019.

How does the CCP influence foreign media?

The tactics employed by the Chinese Communist Party include bribes through payments to local elites, Chinese diplomats attempt to intimidate journalists, training programs for journalists in China paid for by large corporations and the CCP, with the condition that upon their return they publish positive stories.

In addition, these tactics include intense censorship and intimidation, deployment of fake social media accounts, increased CCP-backed and mass-distributed content in major international media, with the purpose of disseminating pro-CCP narratives, promoting falsehoods, and suppressing unfavorable coverage.

The report asserts that the Taiwanese were already aware and alert to the Chinese regime’s infiltration and influence on its media before the West was.

However, Taiwanese media remains the most affected by Chinese communist propaganda, Aboluowang reported.

One of the report’s consultants, Huang Zhaonian, assistant professor at the National Development Institute of National Chengchi University, Taiwan said, “Beijing’s manipulation of Taiwan’s media has been going on for many years through economic forces, such as pro-China businessmen acquiring media and buying ads, and the influence still exists today.”

Huang added, “The sponsorship of young celebrities, influencers, and artists has been used as a method to empower them and encourage them to cooperate with pro-China groups, etc., to increase the impact of their soft power in society.”

What should countries do to defend themselves against this manipulation?

According to Sara Cook, one of the authors of the report, countries should make efforts to protect their media’s independence and freedom of expression.

Cook said, “Both journalists and civil society groups are creatively capturing resources in order to stop the problematic dimension of the CCP’s efforts.”

She added, “This moment is crucial. Governments and societies around the world should increase transparency and protection of press freedom and free speech.”

That is why “more democracy, not less, is the answer to Beijing’s campaign to control news and information around the world,” Cook added.

Ellis Young, Freedom House analyst, recommends that local media protect and expand their independent coverage of China and China-linked investments abroad.

He also suggested suspending content-sharing agreements with Chinese state media and publicly disclosing any pressure or intimidation they receive from Chinese officials.

Young said, “Civil society must continue to monitor Beijing’s influence efforts, as well as continue to work to ensure media transparency and freedom of expression in general.”

Angeli Datt, co-author of the report, said there are several ways to counter CCP influence that various free countries can employ, according to Deutsche Welle.

Datt stated, “We call on the media to stop having content sharing agreements, and if they do, they should be very transparent about it.”

She also said that the media should be willing to expose and pressure or intimidation they receive.

Datt said, “One thing we are calling on governments to do, which is really within their remit, is to stop domestic attacks on independent media and civil society.”

and finally she said, “The media and civil society form the strongest backbone of resistance to Beijing’s efforts to influence the media.”

The truth is that press freedom in China does not exist. And the CCP has set in motion its entire propaganda apparatus to influence foreign media. The Chinese regime is very clear that the media is, as the old saying goes, the “fourth estate.”

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.