China Global Television Network (CGTN) launched a plan to recruit foreign students and social media Vloggers (someone who creates short films recording thoughts, ideas or opinions and posts them on the Internet) to be pro-Beijing media promoters. According to the British media The Times, CGTN was suspended in the UK this February. It launched a “media challengers” campaign in April “to recruit internet influencers and Vloggers globally. Some of those recruited will promote China and counter western narratives that damage China’s image.” Successful applicants can receive a bonus of up to 10,000 U.S. dollars and get a part-time or full-time job on CGTN. The Times found that at least six students from the University of Leeds and one student from the University of Manchester had signed up.
This is part of the effort that Beijing wants to use to neutralize its wolf-warrior diplomacy by using western faces to tell the “China Story” to the West. Xi Jinping recently stated that he wants to build a credible, lovable and respectable image of China. On May 31, he told the members of the Political Bureau that China should make great efforts to strengthen its international communication capabilities, build a strong talent team, improve the art of communication, and expand its circle of friends in the global media.
Beijing has made a heavy investment in infiltrating foreign media. According to documents disclosed by the U.S. Department of Justice last month, China Daily invested more than $1.6 million in advertising expenses in The Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, and Foreign Policy. They paid $1 million to newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and the Houston Chronicle to print the China Daily publications.
On YouTube, Lee Barrett and his son Oli Barrett own a channel with 2.7 million followers. They often praise China on key issues among Beijing’s propaganda list including poverty alleviation, infrastructure, Huawei, and ethnic relations. Jason Lightfoot is a British vlogger and often appears as a guest speaker on CGTN. In addition to Barrett and his son, David Dumbrill, a Canadian who runs a beer hall in Shenzhen, and Raz Galor, an Israeli, all went to Xinjiang and claimed that there was no forced labor there.
Source: Radio Free Asia, June 17, 2021