Chinese Communist Party, the authority which owns China, also controls the Chinese media. The domestic media of China is nothing more than a propaganda tool of the Communist government and they have deployed the media houses like Global Times, China Daily in ‘information war’ on Coronavirus.
However, the influence of Communist party is not limited to the country only; it is buying good press in foreign countries too. The Communist government spent 6 billion dollars in 2018 to buy good press in foreign countries. Given China’s global ambitions, Xi Jinping wants to make foreign media complicit in his agenda.
As per a report by WION, the Communist government has developed a mobile app called “study the powerful country” to brainwash the foreign people and journalists about the policies of Chinese president Xi Jinping, and his ideals.
Moreover, it was reported that China runs a fellowship program for Asian and African journalists to convince them to propagate Chinese ideals in their countries. Since 2016, every year, 100 journalists, mostly from poor South Asian and African countries, get ‘training’ under the fellowship program. As of now, the program is focused only on poor countries which China aims to ‘economically colonize’, but might be expanded for western countries too in future.
Journalists from influential media houses of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Pakistan attended the ‘fellowship’ program. From India, journalists of The Indian Express and Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) have participated. In November 2018, Beijing edition of China Daily, the English language newspaper of the Communist party published an article titled “Visiting journalists give glowing report”. The report was published in online version to but now the story has been removed from website, and it tells 404 not found when searched.
As per ThePrint report by Ananath Krishnan,Visiting Fellow at Brookings India, who was previously China correspondent for India Today, these journalists have been allocated apartments in one of Beijing’s plush residences, the Jianguomen Diplomatic Compound, where a two-bedroom apartment costs 22,000 Yuan (Rs 2.4 lakh), a 5,000 Yuan monthly stipend for some (Rs 50,000) and free tours twice-every-month to different Chinese provinces. The Communist government of China also arranges language classes for these journalists, and at the end of the programme these journalists are given degrees in international relations from a Chinese university. These foreign journalists are also provided access to Chinese government officials and ministries. This access is not granted to other foreign correspondents in China.
The programme was first launched for African journalists. After its success, China expanded its media control programme for Asian journalists including the journalists of South Asia. It has set up separate centres for journalists of separate regions. For example: China Africa Press Center (CAPC), China South Asia Press Centers (CSAPC), China Southeast Asia Press Centers (CSEAPC). All these centers are operated by the Chinese foreign ministry and the China Public Diplomacy Association. The fact that China is ‘grooming’ journalists from other countries speaks volumes of its vile intention of taking control of the media in various countries.
The impact of this drive was seen in 2018 when an article appeared in Indian media reporting that Sri Lankan President had accused Indian foreign intelligence agency- Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)- of meddling in Sri Lankan politics. The report was swiftly denied by the Sri Lankan president. The report was hugely damaging for relations directly benefiting China.
Even during the Doklam issue, some Indian media outlets published stories in favour of China. Time and again, Indian media houses have published many stories in favour of China at the altar of India’s national interest. It seems some Indian media houses are already following the old slogan of communist party: “China’s Mao is our chairman, China’s chairman is our chairman.”
In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping made an infamous visit to the country’s top three state-run media outlets and asked editors and reporters to pledge absolute loyalty to the Communist party and closely follow its leadership in “thought, politics and action”. In China media is nothing but just a paid propaganda for the communist party. That’s why its media has no credibility whatsoever. Chinese, aware of the fact, are now hiring foreign journalists to paint a rosy picture of China and show the dragon in a positive light.
The complicity of media houses in India like Indian Express towards China is reminiscent to the Soviet era influence on Indian media which, according to Mitrokhin archives, was largely in the pocket of the KGB. According to KGB files, “by 1973 it had ten Indian newspapers on its payroll (which cannot be identified for legal reasons) as well as a press agency under its ‘control’. During 1972, the KGB claimed to have planted 3,789 articles in Indian newspapers – probably more than in any other country in the non-Communist world. According to its files, the number fell to 2,760 in 1973 but rose to 4,486 in 1974 and 5,510 in 1975.” KGB planted many stories in Indian media and now Chinese are also trying to do the same under President Xi Jinping’s call in 2016 to “tell China’s story better” to the world.