“Wherever the readers are, wherever the viewers are, that is where propaganda reports must extend their tentacles.” — Xi Jinping, February 2016
1A widely used digital television service in Kenya includes Chinese state television in its most affordable package while omitting international news outlets.2 Portuguese television launches a prime-time “China Hour” featuring content from Chinese state media.3 Chinese diplomats intimidate a cable executive in Washington, DC, to keep New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV), a station founded by Chinese Americans who practice Falun Gong, off the air.4 And a partly Chinese-owned South African newspaper abruptly ends a writer’s column after he discusses repression in China’s Xinjiang region.5
These examples, which have come to light over the past three years, illustrate the various ways in which Chinese Communist Party (CCP) media influence—in the form of censorship, propaganda, and control over content-delivery systems—extend beyond the borders of mainland China to reach countries and audiences around the globe.
The report below updates and expands on a 2013 study by the same author, The Long Shadow of Chinese Censorship: How the Communist Party’s Media Restrictions Affect News Outlets around the World, published by the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy.6 Drawing on recent scholarly research, media reports, interviews, Chinese government documents, and official speeches, the present report addresses the following questions:
- What are the goals of the CCP’s efforts to influence media outlets and news reporting globally?
- How does the CCP promote state media content and desired narratives internationally, while deploying various tactics to suppress critical news reporting?
- How have these dynamics evolved over the past three years under the consolidated CCP leadership of Xi Jinping?
- To what extent do the CCP’s efforts appear to be achieving the desired effect?
- How are governmental and nongovernmental actors responding to the challenges to press freedom and democratic governance posed by the covert, corrupt, and coercive aspects of the CCP’s transnational media influence?