Beijing has been at the forefront of growing its media influence in Southeast Asia while putting overseas media outreach to use in its desire to emerge as a global superpower in the future.
Beijing is seeking “global dominance” through the international media
Every Southeast Asian country has a print bureau of Xinhua, China’s official state media agency. The Chinese Communist Party Publicity Department oversees the other media organizations, while it is a ministry-level agency directly under the State Council.
Direct airing of state media programming in target ASEAN countries is China’s most straightforward way of media outreach.
CCTV-4 and the English-language CGTN are also available in practically every country in the area, while China Radio International broadcasts multilingual content in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar.
China also airs its media through partnerships and content-sharing agreements with foreign media organizations in the target countries. Such agreements are attractive to Southeast Asian countries in part because they provide free content for local media to use.
Beijing had stepped up its efforts to influence international perceptions about China through the means of expanding Chinese media networks in international markets, new research by the International Federation of Journalists, IFJ0 reveals.
While the communist nation supports various journalistic associations such as the Thai-Chinese journalists’ association, ostensibly to promote understanding and good relations between Chinese and foreign journalists, it additionally seeks to use its overseas media outreach to win influence and whitewash China’s abuses against human rights and democracy, downplaying its responsibility for COVID-19, instead of boosting accomplishments such as poverty alleviation and vaccine development, The Defense One reported.
This suggests that China could adopt an information-warfare approach more along the lines of Russia’s, seeking not so much to be loved but to degrade competing powers, the report stated further.
For Beijing, media engagement and influence is not a new strategy, as it has always remained a popular tool deployed by many major powers globally. But contrary to its international peers, China’s outlook is idiosyncratic and incalculable.
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