I don't know about you, but when China claims that there are no new cases of the Wuhan coronavirus within their borders, my first instinct is to be as skeptical as possible. China isn’t known for telling the truth. If anything, they’re more likely to lie to cover-up their atrocities, failures, and corruption. So why is it that the American media is so quick to rehash so much of China’s propaganda to the American public?
While the world was in distress as the Wuhan coronavirus made its spread all over the globe, infecting citizens everywhere at an exponential rate, the American media was fixated on condemning the President for not calling it COVID-19, the name the Chinese regime tried to use in order to muddy the geographical origin of the virus. Accusations of racism were thrown by the American press towards people who refused to kowtow to China and who kept calling it the Wuhan/Chinese virus. Why would the American press gladly sing China's tune? Part of the reason is because they had been bought by the Chinese Communist Party.
According to a report from Freedom House (an international watchdog organization), in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech at China's National Conference on Propaganda and Thought Work (Ideology) on August 19 that year. There, he laid out the goals of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to engage in influencing media campaigns in the United States.
China’s Propaganda War in America
In that speech, he calls for the “positive publicity and public opinion struggle” whereby the Chinese regime has to control the information that shapes the narrative of public opinion about China around the globe. Stated on page 8 of the Freedom House report is the CCP’s strategy of how they will build their influence in the U.S. media market.
The Chinese regime is outright buying the compliance of the American media to spew the CCP’s propaganda in America.
One of the main tactics described by the Freedom House report is how the Chinese regime will “expand in the United States” by “increasingly hiring foreign media professionals while retaining editorial control.” What this basically means is that the Chinese regime is outright buying the compliance of the American media to spew the CCP’s propaganda in America.
The Chinese Regime Is Actively Buying Favorable Depictions of Itself in American Media
In order to carry out this offensive, the Chinese regime is reported to spend an estimated 10 billion dollars a year to manipulate public opinion in their favor. In order to push their propaganda on American audiences, Beijing has sought to exploit the lack of journalistic integrity of some American media institutions by “funding paid-for advertorials, sponsored journalistic coverage and heavily massaged positive messages from boosters” according to The Guardian.
Some examples of these ham-handed strategies include paying mainstream publications like The Washington Post to run Beijing’s propaganda supplements. For those who do not read The Washington Post, the CCP is known to pay for multiple propagandistic advertisements, disguised as an editorial spread, called “ChinaWatch.” It does make you wonder doesn’t it, how when The Washington Post claims their slogan is “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” did they actually mean that the Post would be the one providing the darkness for democracy to die in?
The regime is also working with American social media companies like Twitter to shut down dissent. In 2019, on the 30th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square Masscare, Twitter removed thousands of Chinese language accounts - specifically ones that were critical of the Chinese regime. They claimed that it was part of a larger "bot sweep" to get rid of fake accounts. thousands of Chinese language accounts - specifically ones that were critical of the Chinese regime. They claimed that it was part of a larger "bot sweep" to get rid of fake accounts. It wouldn't be the first time Twitter removed certain accounts in what seemed to be an ideologically motivated sweep.
The Chinese Regime Punishing the American Press for Their Journalistic Freedom
Bribing American media companies like The Washington Post to run their propaganda was the carrot method that the CCP used to shape public opinion in their favor. The other method Beijing employed was the stick, in which the Chinese regime imposed “financial difficulties on disfavored media” to whip the American press into submission.
In order to stop the American media from running stories they dislike, like when The New York Times ran a story about former Premier Wen Jiabao’s family wealth, the CCP blocked all online access to The New York Times in China, causing the company’s stock to drop 20%, due to the panic investors had in the failing The New York Times losing access to the China market. There have been multiple other instances where Beijing has repeatedly obstructed the media from reporting the news through the threat of financial hardship because they know how dependent the American publications are on Chinese money.
The American Media Is Just As Guilty for Selling Out to China
But to say that the American media is the victim of “insidious Chinese manipulation” is to overlook the failure of the American media to uphold their duty as the Fourth Estate. The press is often called the Fourth Estate in the United States because they play a crucial role in determining the outcome of political issues in our nation (the other three estates being the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the government).
The press is often called the Fourth Estate in the United States because they play a crucial role in determining the outcome of political issues in our nation.
Can you imagine the scandals and the accusations of breach of ethics if we found out that the other three branches of our government were controlled by China’s purse strings? Yet with the American press, taking CCP money is just another day of “doing business,” journalistic standards be damned. Why bother upholding the truth when Beijing is throwing some $10 billion for the press to parrot Chinese propaganda? The CCP has been working to buy segments of American media. A major Chinese corporation now owns a segment of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. It's hard to believe that doesn't influence how their network portrays China in its coverage.
Why Is Journalism in America Dead?
Sardonicism aside, what this means for the American people is that the Fourth Estate of the American political system is actively working on the behalf of Beijing’s interest, not the American public's, when they reiterate China’s propaganda. When the American press and media act on behalf of China, then the Fourth Estate in America is behaving like an extension to the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China. Yes, the Publicity Department is a real division of the Chinese regime.
Therefore, even as much as some people may have their issues against President Trump in the Executive Branch of the government, imagine if the President of the United States of America happened to be Xi Jinping. Because that is how the American media acts when it works on behalf of China.
Freedom of Expression Squandered When Propaganda Is Spread
On the other hand, in a country like China where freedom of expression does not exist, it is safe to say that journalism does not exist either. One cannot perform the job of a reporter or journalist under the censorship of the state. So-called “journalists” who have to work under the tyranny of the state merely operate as the mouthpiece of the government to oppress their fellow citizens. Just read about the experience of this American journalist who recalls his experience working under the censorship of the Chinese government.
When our Founding Fathers wrote the American Constitution, the first thing they did was to enshrine free speech and the freedom of the press in America’s First Amendment. Sadly, the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to free speech, is used by the American media to parrot Chinese propaganda because they know they have the right to do so. But like the act of eating bats, just because you have the dietary freedom to do so, doesn’t mean that you should. A nation like America upholds the freedom of the press because it understands the sanctity of free speech.
It is therefore contingent on the Fourth Estate to uphold stringent journalistic standards because it is an obligation of the press to preserve the free society it operates in. When they accept and report China's lies, they are working against America's ability to uphold freedom of speech.