A journalist working for the Chinese state media CCTV was found guilty recently in a UK court for assaulting a pro-Hong Kong democracy activist at the Conservatives’ annual conference in Birmingham, central England.
As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is trying to play an increasingly aggressive role on the world stage economically, politically and militarily, Kong Linlin’s violent behavior allows the West to have a glimpse of CCP’s media “soldiers”.
The incident occurred when Benedict Rogers, the co-founder and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party’s human rights commission, was talking about Hong Kong’s autonomy under the “one country, two systems” policy. Enraged by his speech, Kong Linlin stood up and shouted loudly: “You are a liar! You are anti-China! you want to separate China! You are not even Chinese! The rest are all traitors!”
After the assault was reported in September 2018, both CCTV and the Chinese embassy in London defended Kong’s behavior and demanded an apology from the event’s organizer accusing the UK of failing to uphold its promises of freedom of speech. Kong was hailed a national heroine by the Chinese state media for defending Beijing’s Hong Kong policy.
There is no freedom of press in communist China, so journalists like Kong are not reporters but soldiers with missions to carry out the communist party’s doctrines and agendas.
The communist party has been an expert in weaponizing media since its establishment in the 1920’s.
CCP controls press to rule China
By taking advantage of the freedom of press, CCP managed to sway public opinions against the then ruling party Kuomintang. Through media propaganda, CCP offered the Chinese people false hope by promising them an American-style democracy.
But as soon as CCP took power in China, it took away the freedom of press. All media channels are virtually speaking in one voice dictated by the communist party. Any attempts of expressing independent ideas through media is a prosecutable crime. Media censorship is also applied to social media where every word is being collected and monitored by the government with the help of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.
CCP infiltrates press outside of China to combat the influence of “hostile” Western forces
CCP has been infiltrating press beyond its border to gain sympathy and support even before it took power in China. Now, most of the previously pro-democracy media in Hong Kong and Taiwan became pro-Beijing leaving very few independent media companies struggling to survive under Beijing’s tight squeeze.
According to a report titled “China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order” published by “Reporters without Borders” (RSF) in March 2019:
“Beijing calls for intimidation and violence to silence dissidents, even in democratic nations. From freelance reporters to major media outlets, from publishing houses to social media platforms, no link in the news production chain is immune to the “invisible hand” of Beijing. Even Chinese ambassadors no longer hesitate to openly denigrate press articles that question the official narrative of China, and often in rather undiplomatic ways. Democracies are struggling to react in the face of these threats.”
Beijing has dominated the oversea Chinese-language media mostly by letting its proxies to take ownerships. Here are a few examples of Beijing’s tactics to influence or weaponize media without taking direct ownership according to the same RSF report:
- Beijing has been hosting international events to promote its repressive vision of the media and journalism. In 2009, it created the World Media Summit attended by prestigious international media companies like News Corp (USA), the Associated Press (USA), Thomson Reuters (UK), ITAR-TASS (Russia), Kyodo News (Japan), BBC (UK), Turner (USA) and Google (USA). China also hosts annual “World Internet Conference” despite its notorious internet censorship. The fear of losing the Chinese market have forced many media companies to yield to Beijing.
- Beijing is also exporting surveillance and censorship to the West. Weibo, WeChat, and TikTok are becoming increasingly popular embedded with censorship and surveillance. Ironically, many western media are self-censoring to avoid offending Beijing.
- Beijing makes excessive use of its “sharp power” to assert political influences through aggressive practices like disinformation and harassment. Beijing has been targeting Taiwan and Hong Kong for decades with the aim of expanding its dictatorship. The recently defected Chinese spy Wang Liqing provided shocking details of CCP’s spy operations through media influences and infiltrations in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia. In the U.S. and other democratic countries, Beijing can defame and remove its opponents like Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, by selling hacked information to foreign media.
- A Trojan horse policy like offering the free “China Watch” supplements allows Beijing to push its propaganda into the mainstream foreign media like the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Telegraph, and Le Figaro.
- Beijing has been using gangster methods to threaten or even physically harm individuals with anti-CCP publications. Li Yuan, CTO of the Epoch Times, was attacked in his Atlanta home in 2006 by suspected Chinese agents who took his two laptops. After Anne-Marie Brady posted an article entitled “Magic Weapons” about China’s political influence in New Zealand in 2017, she and her family became victim of harassment including break-ins in her home and office.
We strongly urge governments in the free world to investigate and regulate all Chinese state-owned media operating in their countries, because CCP media are weaponized to erode freedom everywhere.
If you want to read more about Kong Linlin’s case in UK, please click on the link below.