“Democracies should be ready for Beijing’s long-term media game” – Uygur

It has been repeatedly mentioned in the international media that China takes extreme measures to control domestic information. It is known that the Chinese authorities are not only suppressing the freedom of the press in the country, but also trying to influence the free media in the outside world.

The US-based think tank Freedom House released a new report on September 8 titled “Beijing’s Impact on Global Media – 2022”. The report shows that between 2019 and 2021, China will redouble its influence on media around the world in an attempt to silence any critical opinions about China.

The report, led by Sarah Cook, director of China affairs research at Liberty Hall, shows that the Chinese government is accelerating its efforts to influence media outlets in democracies by using covert coercive tactics. The report also shows which countries are under the strongest pressure from the Chinese Communist Party; What journalists, political activists and governments are doing to deal with this pressure in China are introduced.

Sarah Cook and other experts hosted a special webinar on the report on September 8th, hosted by Liberty Hall. According to Sarah Cook, 30 democracies in the world were examined for the preparation of this report. In their 18 countries, it was found that the Chinese Communist Party’s activities to influence the media are strong, especially between 2019 and 2021, China has significantly increased its activities in this regard. In 16 countries, China’s attempt to influence the media was rated as “high” or “very high”.

The report shows that China has used a variety of methods to influence other countries’ media. These methods include providing local media outlets with content to write about China, amplifying pro-China voices on social media, controlling Chinese news and content distribution platforms in foreign countries, and even threatening journalists and media outlets in various ways.

Many of Beijing’s moves have drawn global attention to the Chinese Communist Party’s domestic and foreign policies. The report cites China’s long history of brutal human rights abuses against Uyghurs, protests in Hong Kong, and strict control of information about the coronavirus, as examples of China’s internal information blockade.

Sarah Cook said at the seminar: “The Chinese Communist Party is increasing the billions of dollars that the international community is investing in shaping the flow of opinion on China. China is trying to consolidate the Chinese Communist Party’s rule in China and increase its international political power. Chinese diplomats in various countries are working with Chinese government-run intelligence agencies to improve the Chinese Communist Party’s international image. In particular, China is trying to cover up news about its policies in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the Southeast region. It’s like when the news about the spread of the Corona virus in Wuhan was under siege.”

He also spoke about China’s response to media control in various democratic countries, saying: “As China’s attempts continue, we are seeing the information become more artificial, hidden, and invasive.” But according to our investigations, local journalists, non-governmental organizations and some governments have begun to oppose China’s media control. Democracies have been helping their own news agencies to curb China’s influence. However, while half of the democracies have been able to stand up to China, the rest have been weak in curbing China’s influence. “Even in countries that have reacted strongly, there are cases where they are weak to China’s influence.”

According to the report, “threats” and “restrictions on content” are Beijing’s most blatant attempts to distort international journalism. In other words, the Chinese government, whether it is Chinese citizens living abroad, whether they are Uyghurs, Tibetans, or Hongkongers, has been using their parents or relatives in their country to threaten the content they share on social media.

Among the participants in the webinar on the report was Dr. Andrew J. Dr. Andrew J. Nathan concluded, “The Uyghur problem that Sarah mentioned is a good example. Lately, the Uighur community in the diaspora has played a crucial role in exposing Beijing’s false propaganda among the people. We recently saw the report of the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Uyghurs. The report states that China is committing crimes against humanity. And it’s likely to lead to genocide. “What a shame.”

During the webinar, one of the report makers, “German Waves” (DW) East Asia News Correspondent William Yang, emphasized that China will contribute to the news about Hong Kong and Taiwan in various ways. Dr. Clef Miboya, an analyst of Africa-China issues, said that China’s control over the media in African countries is getting stronger.

Sarah Cook finally talked about how democratic countries should deal with Beijing’s influence, saying: “First, governments should know how to support local media channels and non-governmental organizations in this regard. Cooperate with local non-governmental organizations. Do you know how much the Chinese government’s “China News Network” invests in each local press? I mean, the government agencies and the media agencies have to coordinate. On the other hand, various departments of the government should strengthen mutual cooperation. A strategic long-term plan must be in place and implemented in order to establish a secure defense system against Russia and China. It is absolutely necessary to do so.”

In the conclusion of the report published by “Freedom Hall”, it is said that China has started a long game to control the direction of world media, and democratic countries should be ready for this.

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