Beijing to Take on English Press in Canada

Beijing to Take on English Press in Canada

State-run China Daily plans Canadian print edition

By Matthew
Little
Epoch Times Staff
Created: Sep 14, 2011 Last
Updated:
Sep 15, 2011

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The China Daily, a mouthpiece for the Chinese regime, is
hoping to expand into Canada. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
//

//

As Beijing criticizes Canadian media reports involving a Xinhua News
reporter, the communist regime appears set to take matters into its own hands by
launching a state-run English newspaper in Canada, the Epoch Times has learned.

China Daily, which bills itself as China’s national English-language newspaper with the Chinese
perspective on major financial, political and social issues, is currently
shopping for a public relations firm to help it launch a print edition inCanada
later this year.

Multiple calls to the paper’s New York headquarters
went unanswered, likely due to problems with a new phone system since changing offices, said a manager in the
Washington D.C. office.

That manager, who declined to give her name,
confirmed the paper is planning an expansion to Canada soon but could not
confirm the date. China Daily already prints a five-day-a-week newspaper in the
US.

A Canadian public relations firm, which also wished to remain
unnamed, confirmed it was among those that received a request for proposal from
the paper for a promotional campaign inCanada.

If the launch does
happen, China Daily will join Xinhua News Agency as one of the Chinese regime’s
directly controlled media operating inCanada, though it would apparently be the
only one to publish an English-language print edition.

The Xinhua News
Agency has been the subject of much media attention this week after it was
revealed that Xinhua Toronto chief Shi Rong had exchanged a series of intimate
messages with Canadian MP Bob Dechert, the parliamentary secretary for foreign
affairs.

Dechert said the relationship was merely a friendship, but
security experts have warned about the potential for a breach as Xinhua has been
closely tied to Chinese intelligence operations, a fact widely covered in
Canadian media reports.

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa has taken issue with that coverage, reports the
Globe and Mail.

“It must be pointed out that it is irresponsible to use this to defame the
Chinese government,” a spokesperson told the Globe, asking to remain
unnamed.

Expanding Influence

 

Search results for events like the Tiananmen Square
massacre reveal the China Daily’s close adherence to the Party line.

The Chinese regime is reportedly spending upwards of US$7 billion to
expand its English-language media overseas and steer the course of international
opinion of the communist state.

Xinhua, the regime’s largest news outlet,
debuted a new six-storey electronic billboard in Times Square at the beginning
of August and rented office space in the
square close to media giants Thomson Reuters and The New York
Times.

China Daily meanwhile is providing a “paid news supplement” to
Washington Post so its content can be carried there. The paper has also created
a website which bears The Washington Post logo and is hosted on the
washingtonpost.com domain but runs articles produced by China Daily. A footnote
on a sub-banner notes the site is a paid supplement to the Post, produced by
China Daily.

While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has always exerted
jealous control of all communication channels within China, the effort to expand
its propaganda influence overseas is more recent.

Xinhua was given a
directive by Mao Zedong in 1955 to “have our voice be heard all over the world,”
a battle cry still found on the walls of Xinhua’s China headquarters, but only
now does the regime have the funds to actually make it happen.

Directives from the Top

Party paper Guangming Daily noted in December last year that the regime
needed to penetrate the overseas media market to improve its influence over
other countries.

Leng Song, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, wrote for Guangming that the regime
must “build up the CCP Central media’s brand name and reputation overseas. All
major Central media have already begun to expand in the Western
world.”

It’s a theme that comes up often in the conferences and reports
of party think tanks and committees, reveals Chinese media monitor
Chinascope.

Chinese leader Hu Jintao told one such conference in February
that the Party must establish a mechanism to lead public opinion on the
Internet. It is a message he repeated in the past, telling propagandists they
must lead other news outlets by breaking stories—but from the regime’s
angle.

Journalism with Communist Characteristics

Like most party-controlled media operating overseas, China Daily reports on a
variety of topics but toes the party line on sensitive issues.

Searches
on the English U.S. site reveal some striking differences from Western
journalism. Coverage of Tibet is almost exclusively about the Party’s efforts to
improve quality of life there and how Tibetans were under the heavy oppression
of the Dalai Lama and the theocracy before it was liberated by the
CCP.

Searches for “Tiananmen Square Massacre” return four results, three
of which are the same story titled “Tiananmen massacre a myth.” International
coverage reveals a much more favourable view of regimes like Sudan and Iran than
is common in Western media.

Searches for Falun Gong
shut the site down entirely.

“Western media” comes up repeatedly in
sometimes scathing articles about Western reporting on China. Articles like
“CNN: What’s wrong with you?” and “Chinese experts condemn biased reports on
Lhasa riot by Western media,” expose a core grievance the CCP’s propagandists
have long held against the free press and likely the reason for the expansion of
state-controlled media.

Making a Case for Communist Media

Xinhua News Agency president Li Congjun recently tried to make that grievance
sound justified in an op-ed in the Wall
Street Journal.

Li argued that the world needs a new global media
order, maybe even a “Media UN,” to rebalance the position media from developed
countries have over those of developing countries.

“In our interdependent
world, the human community needs a set of more civilized rules to govern
international mass communication,” he wrote.

Among other points, Li argued modern media
organizations should ensure “openness and transparency to promote the building
of an open society, but also keep to rational and constructive rules so as to
turn mass communication into an active force for promoting social
progress.”

The irony of a key propagandist for a regime that stifles free
speech calling for a more open news media has made great fodder for bloggers and
commentators. The regime’s effort to expand its media successfully will depend
on media consumers being far less critical.

Another major obstacle will
be overcoming the reputation Chinese state media have for playing the dual role
of intelligence gathering.

With files from Chinascope.

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