USEUROPEAFRICAASIA 中文双语Français
China
Home / China / View

The growing influence of Chinese media

By Richard King | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2017-06-25 14:01

Far from dismissing the nation's new voices, the West should be actively embracing its concepts

The public address system calls on passengers to board flights to Chengdu and Guangzhou. Outside shops selling duty-free Chunghwa brand cigarettes, a group of workmen are squatting to eat noodles during their lunch break. In the queue for security checks, a businessman is giving instructions on his mobile phone in accented Putonghua. But he is from Burundi, and this is Addis Ababa airport.

Ethiopia is one of the most pronounced examples of where the Chinese century is already upon us. It will have an impact on everything, not least the media. To understand the media in the 21st century, we will all, at least figuratively, need to learn Chinese.

Traditional media are already feeling the shift. The international relaunch of CGTN - China Global Television Network - marks a turning point in international broadcast journalism. The network, still known within China as CCTV (China Central Television), is expanding its international presence. With journalists in more than 70 countries, production centers in Beijing and Washington will be joined by new studios in London and Nairobi later this year.

President Xi Jinping has urged the network to "tell China's story well, spread China's voice well, let the world know a three-dimensional, colorful China, and showcase China's role as a builder of world peace".

Chinese media remain constrained. Yet the tendency to dismiss it as purely a publicity tool underestimates its sophistication. The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television is tasked with the supervision of China's television, radio and film industries. It promotes themes within the world's largest media system, such as the Chinese Dream and the "peaceful rise" of China.

From the expose of the AIDS "epidemic" in Central China's Henan province to the mass corruption case in Chenzhou in Central China's Hunan province, some of China's largest scandals in recent years have been uncovered as a result of ferocious investigative journalism. In contrast to the adversarial Western "muckraking" model, this so-called "watchdog journalism" works closely with the government.

As China continues its expansion across the international media landscape, some of the principles of Chinese journalism are also being reflected in the Western media.

The SAPPRFT has long encouraged what it calls "constructive journalism". Better known in the West as "solutions-focused journalism", it is the idea that journalists should move beyond the distorted world view presented by breaking news and focus on what is working in the world. The BBC explicitly endorsed this positive approach in 2016. New BBC World Service programs, such as My Perfect Country, are aiming to solve common problems in countries around the world.

Despite progress, some Western coverage of China itself is still two-dimensional, at best. For example, much of the reporting on the recent Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing recycled decade-old arguments on Chinese neo-colonialism in Africa.

Some in the West have tried harder than others to get to grips with this evolving landscape. In 2014, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg conducted a 30-minute question-and-answer session at Tsinghua University in fluent Mandarin, much to the delight of China's engaged netizens.

Many of the disruptive ideas emerging in China's "new media" are world-leading. Zuckerberg is not only picking up vocabulary on his visits to Beijing-some new features of Facebook and WhatsApp are also lessons from ubiquitous Chinese social media platforms, such as WeChat and Weibo.

This transformational shift is only just getting started. Last year, China moved up two places in Portland's SoftPower 30-a ranking of countries' soft power, based on a composite index measuring engagement, culture, government, education digital and enterprise.

As China continues to invest in its soft power assets, we can expect it to rise further up the ranks. Its media will be a key part of this. As the driver of a new era of globalization, international norms in media and reporting will continue to flow from West to East. Businesses and governments will need to learn Chinese. And learn fast.

The author is a consultant at Portland Communications. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Editor's picks
BACK TO THE TOP
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349
FOLLOW US