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Swiss Media Launched a Column for the Chinese Ambassador

Die Weltwoche, a Swiss weekly magazine based in Zürich and founded in 1933, has invited the Chinese Ambassador to Switzerland Geng Wenbing to open a “China Perspective” column to promote China’s national policy. Geng opened the column on April 4 of this year. He published his first column titled, “Autonomy and Prosperity.” The article adopted China’s propaganda tone and said that Tibet “under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, went from serfdom to openness,” without a single word mentioning Beijing’s high-pressure policy in Tibet. Roger Köppel, the owner of Die Weltwoche, wrote an introduction for Geng Wenbing and praised China’s development saying, “China is highly questioned in the West, and the Western media has given a one-sided voice to critics and dissidents. China’s official views are absent in the Western media.” As a result, the magazine launched “the world’s first platform for the representatives from the Chinese government.”

Roger Köppel, a member of the Swiss Federal Assembly, took ownership of Die Weltwoche in 2006. Since then, assisted by the Chinese embassy in Switzerland, the newspaper has seen a surge in advertising. Its stance has also become increasingly pro-Beijing.

Later, Geng successively published articles promoting China’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” defending the “Xinjiang Concentration Camps,” protesting the “U.S. Trade War,” criticizing “Hong Kong Protesters,” and chanting the “70th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Regime.” Not long ago, when China’s internal documents regarding Xinjiang were exposed, Geng, in one of his articles, said that the Beijing government was “committed to promoting and maintaining ethnic diversity and solidarity.” Two weeks later, a Chinese company Saurer ran a full-page advertisement on Die Weltwoche.

In fact, since March 28 of this year, Die Weltwoche published eight full-page advertisements, including China Construction Bank, under the name “China Week,” with each advertisement valued at over 10,000 Swiss francs (US$10, 200). Coincidentally, seven days after the Chinese advertising campaign at the end of March, Chinese Ambassador Geng Wenbing’s column officially opened. The email that the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, a German-language daily newspaper, obtained showed that the commerce staff at the Chinese Embassy coordinated the advertising campaign and Die Weltwoche was aware of the arrangement.

Ralph Weber, a China expert in Switzerland, believes that the Die Weltwoche is a standard model of the Chinese Communist Party’s expansion of its influence abroad. Its not an isolated case in Europe. In October this year, a German media disclosed a joint “Dialogue” program and cooperation between Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Northern German Broadcasting), a Hamburg based German public radio and television broadcaster, and the China Global Television Network group.

Source: Radio Free Asia, December 17, 2019