China’s quest for global dominance has resulted in suppression of media and critical reporting in the country as several media houses and journalists are being intimidated and the flow of information is brought under strict control, revealed a recently released report by US-based think tank Freedom House on Tuesday.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to establish a stronghold in content distribution channels in China and 18 of the 30 democracies that the report reviewed acknowledged that the CCP made significant efforts to influence their domestic media, the Singapore Post reported.
The research also unveiled some of China’s attempts at cyberbullying against foreign journalists who posted critical articles regarding Chinese rule.
According to an international survey conducted by the International Federation of Journalists in 2020, China took significant leverage of the COVID-19 period to revamp its image in global media coverage. Moreover, the statistics show that Chinese-supported presence in the media ecosystems in foreign countries went up 76 per cent as compared to the earlier 64 per cent. The survey also highlighted that almost 80 per cent of countries reported their concerns, the Singapore Post reported.
China’s growing political and military might with an intention to replace the current West-led liberal world order has raised concerns across the globe as the US-China battle persists due to China’s aggression towards the Indo-Pacific region.
The disappearance of content from social media platforms, missing pages of foreign magazines and the screen flickering before going dark when broadcasters like BBC would run sensitive stories like Tibet, Taiwan or even the Tiananmen massacre of 1989 has been used by China to shape its image.
However, now the game has turned the tables and China is pumping hefty sums of money for advertorials and sponsored journalistic coverage to reshape the global information environment.
Africa is notably one of the worst-hit continents when it comes to Chinese media hedging. When US Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022, the African media outlets ran an intensified pro-China narrative and heavily used pro-China sources for the same.
In May 2021, a report by the International Federation of Journalists revealed how China manipulated the media about COVID-19 and Xinjiang, pointing specifically at Italy as the worst case, as per Bitter Winter magazine.
The global perceptions of China deteriorated after 2019 as the human rights atrocities committed by China in the Xinjiang province, and the suppression of protests in Hong Kong alongside mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic came to light, according to the Singapore Post.
Notably, now China has shifted its focus on displaying its soft power to the world, in terms of shaping preferences through appeal and attraction.
Furthermore, the stringent zero-covid policy in China has been making the lives of people miserable since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chinese government has been imposing lockdowns, and travel restrictions and conducting mass testing of people to control the spread of the virus.