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Beijing's Global Media Offensive

China’s Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World

Geopolitcs - China

Since China’s ascendancy toward great power status began in the 1990s, many observers have focused on its economic growth and expanding military power. In contrast, most viewed China’s ability to project “soft power” through its media industries and its global influence campaigns as quite limited, and its ability to wield influence within the domestic politics of other countries as nonexistent. But as Joshua Kurlantzick shows in Beijing’s Global Media Offensive, both of these things have begun to change dramatically.

An incisive analysis of China’s attempt to become a media and information superpower around the world, and also wield traditional forms of influence to shape the domestic politics of other countries, the book shows China for the first time is actively seeking to insert itself into many other countries’ elections, social media, media, and overall politics, including that of the United States.

Kurlantzick focuses on how all of this is playing out in the United States, where Beijing has become the biggest spender on foreign influence activities, and also in China’s immediate neighborhood—Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand—as well as in Europe and other parts of the world. He also traces the ways in which China is increasingly collaborating with Russia in their efforts to become more powerful global influencers via disinformation and other tools, but critically examines whether Beijing has enjoyed great success with these efforts to wield power within other countries’ domestic societies and politics and media.

While China has worked hard at becoming a media superpower, it sometimes has failed to reap gains from its efforts. It has undermined itself with overly assertive, alienating diplomacy and is now broadly unpopular in many countries. Still, Kurlantzick contends, China’s media, information, disinformation, and more traditional influence campaigns will continue to expand and adapt, potentially helping Beijing to wield major influence over other countries’ politics—and to export its models of political and internet control. China’s efforts also may not only help protect the ruling party; they may also help China build alliances with autocracies and undermine press freedoms, human rights, and democracy across the globe.

An authoritative account of how this sophisticated and multipronged campaign is unfolding, this book provides a new window into China’s attempts to make itself an information and broader influence superpower.

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