Chinese government censorship affects foreign Chinese media

北美的华文新闻媒体是否越来越受到中国政府的影响?据”自由之家”研究分析员库克(Sarah Cook)称,在全球各地的新闻编辑部里,“中国因素”无所不在。库克本周发表的就此论题进行探讨的报告指出,中国政府已经直接影响到华文海外媒体的独立性。

Are Chinese News outlets in North America increasingly under the influence of the Chinese governments? The reality is that the ‘China Factor’ exists in newsrooms around the world, according Sarah Cook, Freedom House research analyst. Putting the issue under microscope, Cook found, in her report released this week, that Chinese officials have directly impeded independent reporting by Chinese media based abroad.


In addressing the issue of financial challenges confronting independent print media, Cook interviewed Jack Jia, the publisher of this newspaper.  It quoted Jia as saying that unaudited circulation number of major print media “has negatively affected our ability to grow and affects our ability to serve the community.”


Freedom House is a U.S. based, reputable research organization, advocating on democracy and political reform. Below are the edited excerpts of Cook’s report The Long Shadow of Chinese Censorship: How Chinese Media Restrictions Affect News Outlets around the World.


The Chinese diaspora is one of the world’s largest and most widely spread, estimated at more than 40 million people distributed in 130 countries.  The largest concentration of overseas Chinese is in Southeast Asia, but over the past two decades, the number of mainland Chinese moving to study, work, or settle in North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Australia has grown significantly.


In 1989, the CCP became alarmed by the support the Tiananmen Square prodemocracy movement garnered among ethnic Chinese abroad. Since then, it has sought to increase its economic and political influence over these communities and the media outlets that serve them.A range of academic, policy, and think tank research has documented various approaches adopted by the CCP for achieving this goal, combining expansion of state-run media with efforts to influence privately owned Chinese-language outlets scattered around the world.


It is beyond the scope of this report to delve into the full complexity of diaspora Chinese media,but three key dynamics are worth noting in the context of the present discussion.

Media Owners’ Ties to Beijing


For owners of other overseas Chinese media, close ties with the Chinese government and state-media entities can provide various economic and political benefits ranging from preferential treatment for business initiatives in China to advertising from state-owned firms to membership in the CPPCC.As in Hong Kong and Taiwan, these typically come with explicit or implicit conditions to amplify the party’s messages while shying away from certain negative reporting. Scholars from Australia note that “sensitive news stories that would potentially displease the Chinese government … are often studiously avoided.”

Manipulated Competition for Advertising


Like their mainstream Western counterparts, Chinese diaspora media–particularly the printed press–face challenges to their financial sustainability due to economic and technological changes. Businesses in the Chinese community may be reticent to advertise with outlets taking a more critical stance towards the Chinese government, either because of direct or indirect pressure from consular officials. By contrast, Chen says some businesses advertise in the strongly Beijing-aligned China Press because they have received hints from officials that this will yield rewards for their operations in China.


In other cases, financial challenges confronting independent media may not be the result of Chinese political pressures but rather of unfair business practices by competitors. Jack Jia, founder of the Toronto-based semi-weekly Chinese News, known for its strong reporting on topics affecting the local Chinese community, contends that the circulation numbers of more Beijing-friendly Chinese-language papers are inflated, giving them an unfair advantage when obtaining revenue through advertising.Unclear figures in media directories, a lack of transparency and of independent circulation audits by publications, and distribution route data relayed by an industry insider who wished to remain anonymous lend credence to such suspicions. Jia attributes the cause of such practices as much to a business culture where profit trumps principle as to political motivations. But the ultimate impact is that “it [negatively] affects our ability to grow and affects our ability to serve the … community.”

State Media Content Supplanting Other Sources

不仅影响媒体报道的内容,还会影响到海外华媒的经济状况的第三个因素其涉及国有媒体机构向海外购买广告,或是向华文新闻媒体提供免费信息内容,以期提高共产党对中国全面报道的控制能力。据新西兰的华媒学者安妮-玛丽·贝雷(Anne-Marie Brady)称:

A third dynamic that affects both the content of media coverage and the economic landscape for diaspora media involves state media purchasing advertorials or providing free content to Chinese-language news outlets, contributing to an overall increase in the Communist Party’s ability to shape coverage of China. According to Anne-Marie Brady, a scholar of Chinese media from New Zealand:


Fomerly Hong Kong and Taiwan-based news groups were the main source for news, but in the last ten years they have basically been driven out of the market by a plethora of free Chinese newspapers, which derive virtually all their content from the Mainland media. Few Chinese language newspapers outside China have the financial resources … to resist the offer of free content. The same goes for Chinese language radio and television stations abroad, they too relay Mainland media programmes and exclude other Chinese language sources.

由于这些因素的作用,再加上CCTV(中国中央电视台)等国营媒体积极渗入华裔社区以及世界各地有线电视运营商,目前许多海外华人不断直接或间接地从受中国政府影响的媒体中取新闻。据媒体研究教授孙皖宁(Wanning Sun)称,截止2010年,CCTV已经控制了大约75%的北美华语电视台。澳大利亚学者冯崇义(Feng Chongyi)指出:“CCP的‘思想政治工作’非常成功……虽然生活在澳大利亚,但是来自中国的‘新移民’仍被为受中国政府主宰的华媒所左右。”

These dynamics along with the proactive penetration of state-run outlets like CCTV into Chinese communities and cable providers around the world contribute to a situation whereby many overseas Chinese continue to get their information from news outlets directly or indirectly influenced by the CCP and its information controls. According to Wanning Sun, a media studies professor, as of 2010, CCTV controlled about 75 percent of Chinese-language television stations in North America.  Australian scholar Feng Chongyi notes: “The ‘ideological work’ of the Party is so successful that … although living in Australia, the ‘new migrants’ from China are still surrounded by the Chinese media dominated by the Chinese government views and narratives.”


Still, the party’s influence is far from absolute. Some local businesses continue to advertise in disfavored outlets despite the fear of reprisal. And, even when owners may have close ties to Beijing, the need to maintain credibility in a competitive market, journalists’ professional dedication, and a sense of growing discontent with the government from within China prompt reporting on topics that are off-limits to mainland media, especially in the printed press. Thus, a review of recent reporting in several North American papers found excerpts from the New York Times story on Wen Jiabao’s family assets, a special feature on the Hong Kong vigil commemorating the 1989 massacre, and a full page story on a U.S. congressional hearing about human rights in China.


Meanwhile, the more open political atmosphere of a democratic society can offset illiberal pressures and questionable business practices. Reflecting on his own evolution as a media owner, Jack Jia said: “When we started in 1993, I was also money driven and didn’t really know how a responsible media operates. But after about ten years [in Canada], I started to understand that journalism and freedom of speech are so important for a society.”

Note: The story was published in Chinese News in October, 2013.

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無名氏 (未验证) on 星期四, 六月 28, 2018 - 00:29