He Qinglian: The Invisible Front of China’s Great Foreign Propaganda

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), presided over a group study on foreign propaganda at the Politburo on May 31 and made a remark that immediately became a hot news on the Internet: China should make friends in the international community and strive to build a “credible, lovable and respectable” image, and emphasize that it should pay attention to the tone in foreign propaganda and “be humble and modest”. The general interpretation is that the war wolf’s evil appearance is too annoying, so it is prepared to play the role of a kind person, and commentators have their own opinions as to whether it is as kind as a rabbit or as a Pooh bear. Other commentators simply think that the Great Foreign Propaganda is ridiculous and a complete failure, which is obviously an underestimation of the Great Foreign Propaganda system that the CCP has spent a lot of money to build over the years.

The Great Foreign Propaganda has a regular army and an underground front

It is the style of the regular army of Chinese foreign propaganda (Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily, International Radio, etc.) since the epidemic, which, as the old Chinese saying goes, is not as loud as it is reasonable. This is because the virus, designated by WHO as COVID-19, first originated in Wuhan and is suspected to be the result of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virus Research. Because the scourge extended to the world, infecting 174 million people and causing 3.75 million deaths (May 17 data), the scourge was so big that it had to be shouted loudly with tweeters, hoping to overshadow other voices.

Such war-wolf foreign propaganda and diplomacy is of course abhorrent and easily boycotted, such as the flagship English-language foreign propaganda of the China Daily, which is listed as a foreign agent in the United States. But to conclude that the CCP’s grand foreign propaganda has failed as a whole is to completely ignore the fact that it has an underground front around the world. The “localization of foreign propaganda” strategy had been in place for six years before the CCP officially made its grand foreign propaganda plan public in 2009. This strategy, to put it bluntly, is to use foreigners and foreign media to help China with its foreign propaganda work in their countries, a covert underground element that is more convenient than using regular troops and more likely to gain credibility with audiences.

Money Talk: The underground front relies on money to make way

In 2009, the Chinese government only officially announced the implementation of the Big Foreign Propaganda Plan. Before that, China had long been implementing a strategy of localizing Big Foreign Propaganda publications in Chinese language media around the world and in countries such as Latin America and Africa. But 2009 was an important turning point in China’s shift of focus to the English-speaking world, as the Chinese government began to deploy a RMB 45 billion “Greater Outreach” strategy from 2008 to 2009 to promote the international expansion of China’s official media and strengthen its presence and influence in the global media.

The Great Outreach is being pursued on two fronts, with news agencies set up in countries around the world to expand their reach. Among them, China Global Television (CGTN) has set up headquarters in Africa, the United States, and London; by 2017, CCTV’s seven international channels, including Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and English-language records, have been broadcast in more than 170 countries and regions. But these are the propaganda mainstays of the regular army, loud and ineffective, because the output of information is not the same as its acceptance. Therefore, the most powerful foreign propaganda tactic of the CCP is the underground friendly network of “localization strategy of foreign propaganda media”. I have described its history in detail in Chapter 2, “The Localization Strategy of China’s Big Foreign Propaganda,” in my monograph on big foreign propaganda, Red Infiltration: The Truth About China’s Global Media Expansion. (The book will be published by Taiwan’s Baji Culture Press in March 2019)

The use of underground friendly forces for propaganda and telling the “Chinese story” has the effect of “the wet rain is invisible, and the idle flowers fall to the ground without a sound”, which has a great impact on the audience and is not easy to notice. In addition to China’s regular foreign propaganda legions publishing media in various languages, its strategy is mainly three-fold: first, to cooperate with influential local media around the world, which includes exchanging space (in fact, buying); second, to invite journalists and editors from target countries to visit China for further training, and depending on the economic level of the country, to provide them with better living expenses and subsidies than in their own countries, so that they can report on China in a way that is pleasing to their own audiences; third, to provide the target country’s media with the opportunity to report on China in a way that is pleasing to their own audiences. Thirdly, we will upgrade the media equipment of the target countries, so that they will return the favor by covering China’s stories or the contribution of local Chinese enterprises abroad to the economic development of the country.

In July 2020, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) released a global survey entitled “The China Story: Reshaping the World’s Media,” which reveals the various ways in which China has strengthened its influence on international media and journalists over the past decade to tell the “China story” and influence foreign public perceptions of China. For example, one-third of the world’s journalists’ federations reported that they were approached by Chinese organizations to sign a memorandum of understanding with them. Half of the journalist organizations we surveyed said that journalists from their countries had been given free trips to the CCP.

Big Foreign Affairs has succeeded in training a group of invisible mouthpiece journalists

The need for native English-speaking journalists is even greater when running English-language media. The Xinhua News Agency launched English-language television news on July 1, 2009, after China launched several English-language newspapers for foreign readers, such as News CHINA, the English-language version of China Newsweek, and in late February 2009, the North American edition of China Daily set up stations in Washington, D.C., and other places to recruit English-language reporters, to which there were many applicants. The Communist Global Television Network (CGTN) offered an attractive alternative: a generous salary. A veteran Western journalist described the “rush” of peers competing for positions in China’s foreign media: “At the state-of-the-art CGTN, formerly China’s state-run broadcaster CCTV International, in the Chiswick area of West London, the recruitment team was going through resumes. The recruitment team was faced with an enviable dilemma when going through CVs: there were so many applicants that there were only 90 vacancies for ‘reporting news from a Chinese perspective’ and almost 6,000 applications. The simple task of reading applications alone can take close to two months.”

In global journalism, the past decade (2008-2017) has been defined as a decade of decline for traditional media, as the rise of the Internet and the emergence of new media, such as social media, has put traditional media, which primarily produce serious news, in a difficult position to survive, while Western media have been forced to “slim down” due to the impact of Internet information and the financial crisis. At a time when Western media are being forced to “slim down” due to the impact of the Internet and the financial crisis, China’s need for editors and reporters in all languages is providing some journalists with seemingly good employment opportunities. The excellent salaries in China’s foreign media are enough to make Western journalists “forget” the ideas they were raised with. In Chapter 2 of my book, Red Infiltration, I have devoted a section to “Attracting ‘Foreign Hire Corps’ to Join the Great Foreign Propaganda with Heavy Pay”.

The focus of this article is not on the acceptance of the Communist propaganda code of propaganda over truth in the work of these people when they joined the Great Foreign Missions team, but rather on the impact of those who have such work experience when they return to the Western media industry. In an April 21 article in the National Pulse, it was noted that several New York Times employees have worked for Communist propaganda organizations, including Jonah Kessel, the Times’ director of photography; Diarmuid McDermott, the Times’ current editor and designer; and European journalists. McDermott; and European culture correspondent Alex Marshall, among others. Kessel was the creative director of China Daily from July 2009 to November 2010. He posted on Twitter that working for the Chinese Communist Party sometimes has its “benefits. He also mentioned that he was “excited” to start the role, which included “redesigning” the CCP’s “propaganda weapons. In several posts, he revealed that he was “working” for the official Communist Party media and was “getting paid. According to McDermott’s LinkedIn profile and personal website information, he worked as an editor and designer for China Daily. Hong Kong for eight years, from November 2012 to November 2020. He held the same position at The New York Times last year and is still based in Hong Kong.

Investing heavily in U.S. media softcovers to quietly brainwash Americans

A document released by the U.S. Department of Justice in June 2020 showed that the English version of China Daily, China’s official media, has paid more than $19 million in printing and advertising fees to U.S. media since November 2016, including more than $11 million to mainstream U.S. media outlets such as The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. In an April 12 article in the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief, the U.S. think tank noted that the CCP has long sought to expand its influence in Western society in order to gain more “discourse power” in the international community. power. The article’s author, John Dotson, notes that Chinese media have long placed paid inserts in major U.S. newspapers such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. For example, Xinhua News Agency often uses the labels China Watch and China Focus to advertise. The articles in these inserts appear at first glance to be news and editorials for the main newspaper, but in reality they are big foreign propaganda for the CCP, and it costs a lot of money to buy these advertising inserts.

According to the article, the CCP media uses the credibility of prominent English-language journals to “tell the Chinese (CCP) story. In fact, these inserts are advertised with disclaimers, but often in small print, so many people do not notice them. These articles, often labeled “China Watch” or “China Focus,” are actually propaganda content prepared by Communist Party agencies. The addendum is also labeled as a “paid advertising publication”. But these articles look like news and editorials provided by the main newspaper.

Brainwashing Foreigners: The Regular Army is Better than the Underground Front

This invisible front plays a brainwashing role on a regular basis and a political role in critical moments that is beyond the reach of the Communist Party’s regular army of foreign propaganda. In May, the International Federation of Investigative Journalists (IFJ) released a new report exposing Beijing’s bundling of “vaccine diplomacy” to reshape the world media landscape. The report cites the example of a number of Filipino journalists who have been trained in China since the Philippines’ presidential communications office signed a memorandum of cooperation with Chinese official media. One Filipino journalist revealed that he has observed other journalists writing stories that often incorporate the views of Xinhua or other Chinese official media. Through such tactics, China has tied these foreign propaganda efforts and “vaccine diplomacy” to investment projects under the Belt and Road Initiative to ensure that beneficiary countries support and praise the CCP at UN meetings and other venues.

The media is known as the “fourth power” in the United States, and the New York Times, which is almost worshiped by Asian countries, has become the voice of China’s interests in the United States and the vanguard of the far left, advocating for the interests of the political factions funded by their own countries. This degradation of the social commons means that the media is no longer the fourth power, but a vassal dependent on political and economic power.

The above analysis makes it clear that China’s big foreign propaganda campaign, with its huge expenditures, fully demonstrates that the Chinese Communist regime, which profits from the “Chinese model” of communist capitalism, has developed a sophisticated technique of corrupting Western societies through the pull of interests and is almost invincible.