John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist with a deep understanding of psychology and social relations. Recently he had an opinion piece in The Epoch Times, analyzing China’s media manipulation in the West.
According to Ghlionn, it is not strange that China runs a tightly controlled media empire. But he noted that this global operation shapes how stories are told and how people feel about things, effectively reaching every corner of the globe.
The researcher also notes that Beijing has tried to influence the global narrative in recent years and has achieved some success in this aspect with some countries. In a report, Washington-based think tank Freedom House pointed out some countries where China has a lot of influence, and the U.S. is one of them.
The report “Beijing’s Global Media Influence: Authoritarian Expansion and the Power of Democratic Resilience,” assesses China’s influence on media in 30 countries. Among 30 countries, 16 or more than 50% have registered a “strong” or “very high” grade of CCP’s media influence efforts.
Three countries on the top list are Taiwan, the U.S., and the U.K. Other countries suffering the most from China’s influence include Argentina, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, and Spain. This operation is worldwide.
In the United States, Chinese media have “very high” power. China has been stealing U.S. intelligence secrets and molding social media platforms for years.
Methods of China-backed actors have developed quickly. Beijing has spent a lot of money on fake news and famous people with a significant social media presence and has also launched cyberattacks on major online news sites.
According to the report, cyberbullying of journalists has also “increased” with much greater frequency as CCP-backed state media outlets struggled to attract a mainstream audience in the U.S. and attitudes toward Beijing became more negative.
The investigation also found that several local and national news sources ran paid inserts from news agencies with ties to the CCP. Those publications include the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, CNN, Foreign Policy, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
In the U.K., Chinese interference was “very high.” Most people might be aware that Huawei is a Chinese telecom company with ties to the CCP. They pay UK-based The Economist for content printed in its publication.
In addition, other major U.K. news outlets, including Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Metro, MailOnline, and New Scientist, are owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT). The Daily Mail and General Trust are longstanding Belt and Road News Network (BRNN) members.
People’s Daily initiated Belt and Road News Network, a CCP’s mouthpiece, to promote China and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – China’s infamous debt trap tool.
On the other hand, People’s Daily has an office in the U.K. Other CCP’s mouthpieces, including China Daily, China Global Television Network, and Xinhua, also have offices in the U.K.
China has also been paying foreign reporters for better coverage. For example, Beijing-backed telecom giant Huawei has allegedly subsidized trips for reporters to the country.
The study also mentions the dangers that China-based social media giants pose. Those include WeChat from Tencent and TikTok from ByteDance. Take the case of Tik Tok, with 25% of Americans using this app. Beijing finds it convenient to spy on Americans and spread false information.