China Seeks to Dominate U.S. Media

China Seeks to Dominate U.S. Media

China has launched a forceful attempt to aggressively influence people, sometimes using illicit means, across the world to overlook its concentration camps, massive military buildup, and international aggression.

Freedom House, a non-profit that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights warns that Beijing has a “High or very high” campaign to push its perspective.

The study found that “The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its proxies are using more sophisticated and coercive tactics to shape media narratives and suppress critical reporting. Mass distribution of Beijing-backed content via mainstream media, harassment and intimidation of outlets that publish news or opinions disfavored by the Chinese government, and the use of cyberbullying, fake social media accounts, and targeted disinformation campaigns are among the tactics that have been employed more widely since 2019.

Freedom House notes that Inadequate government responses leave countries vulnerable or exacerbate the problem. Declines in press freedom and gaps in media regulations have reduced democratic resilience and created greater opportunities for future CCP media influence. In 23 countries, political leaders launched attacks on domestic media or exploited legitimate concerns about CCP influence to impose arbitrary restrictions, target critical outlets, or fuel xenophobic sentiment. Democracies’ ability to counter CCP media influence is alarmingly uneven. Only half of the countries examined in this study achieved a rating of Resilient, while the remaining half were designated as Vulnerable. Taiwan faced the most intense CCP influence efforts, but it also mounted the strongest response, followed in both respects by the United States. Nigeria was deemed the most vulnerable to Beijing’s media influence campaigns.

Freedom House is not alone in issuing warnings. A Rand analysis stated:

“Imagine the United States allowing a rival unfettered access not merely to its marketplace, but to its media ecosystem—the fourth pillar of our already fragile democracy. And not just access, but the full-blown ability to own, control, and influence the content. You don’t have to imagine it, because it’s happened—and keeps happening. Chinese companies have successfully burrowed into the U.S. media ecosystem with little to no pushback from U.S. regulators, particularly when it comes to radio stations. A single Chinese state-run firm, China Radio International (CRI), has secured a controlling interest in at least 33 radio stations in 14 countries—including English language news broadcaster WCRW in Washington, D.C.—to broadcast native language news slanted to favor the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) preferred perspective on events. A 2020 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that “Nearly every Chinese language news outlet in the United States is either owned by, or works closely with the Party—and it is making inroads into English language media as well. There are more than a dozen radio stations in cities across the country where Americans hear subtle pro-Beijing propaganda on their FM radio.”

Further warnings come from other media sources. Axios examined foreign-agent filings that disclosed a “massive Beijing propaganda operation that’s fueled a sixfold increase in disclosed Chinese foreign influence efforts.”

A Brookings report found that “In the United States, Chinese state-controlled media outlets like China Daily, CGTN and Xinhua clearly hope to influence the U.S. information environment. Several newspapers, including the Washington Post, carry inserts published by the China Daily. In addition, there is some evidence that United Front-linked donors have sought to support U.S. research institutions.”

News organizations such as Reuters note the success Beijing has had in this effort.

The danger from the increasing hold the Chinese Communist Party has on American media cannot be overstated. Beijing uses its undue influence to obscure the very real armed challenge it presents, it’s massive human rights violations, and its terrible impact from its other actions, including the infliction of COVID on the world.


Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government

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