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VOA: Belt and Road Forum Criticized for Suppressing Different Voices

Voice of America carried an article on the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which was held on May 14 in Beijing. The article discussed the criticism Beijing received for promoting tolerance to the outside world while lacking tolerance toward its own citizens and suppressing different voices. The article mentioned that, while the forum was taking place, Beijing applied the highest level of security measures against dissidents and petitioners. Security forces could be sited at public facilities. Some of the dissidents were either sent back to their hometowns or forced to take a “vacation” and leave Beijing. Some stores, tourist sites, and certain construction sites were ordered to shut down during the forum.

In terms of the Belt and Road project, the article stated that it faces many challenges. One is a lack of transparency since it is State Owned Enterprises that are driving the project rather than the market economy. Another concern is the stability of the countries that are situated along the Belt and Road path.

Source: Voice of America, May 14, 2017
http://www.voachinese.com/a/brf-20170514/3851217.html

Publicity Department Directives to Launch Nationwide Publicity Campaign Prior to 19th National Congress

According to Guangming Daily, on May 16, the Publicity Department held a meeting in Beijing and issued directives to launch a nationwide publicity campaign prior to the 19th National Congress. The directives requested that all parties “increase the depth of the media campaign to the full extent; mobilize large scale media events, exhibits and forums, as well as produce TV documentaries in order to showcase the achievements that the Party and the country have made; to launch education, arts, and cultural programs to present a harmonious and upright social environment; actively to produce publicity content that targets foreign countries that are able to tell China and the Party’s stories well, and to present confidence and positive energy to the world.”

Source: Guangming Daily, May 17, 2017
http://news.gmw.cn/2017-05/17/content_24499987.htm

China News: Former Director of the National Bureau of Statistics Was Accused of Corruption

China News recently reported that Wang Bao’an, former Director of the National Bureau of Statistics, was accused of corruption in court. The prosecution filed the suit against Wang for illegally accepting bribery money totaling over RMB 154 million yuan (around US$22.3 million) between 1994 and 2016. During this period, Wang worked in the State Administration of Taxation, the Ministry of Finance, the Province of Heilongjiang, as well as the National Bureau of Statistics. Wang was accused of wrongdoing in the processes of obtaining government project approval, government procurement bidding, and internal promotion, in exchange for personal financial gain. Sometimes Wang accepted money indirectly via his relatives. Wang pleaded guilty in court immediately and would not appeal. The court will sentence him at a later time.

Source: China News, May 11, 2017
http://www.chinanews.com/sh/2017/05-11/8221288.shtml

The Chinese Government’s Influence on the U.S. Media Landscape

On May 4, 2017, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) held a hearing, “China’s Information Controls, Global Media Influence, and Cyber Warfare Stategy.” Sarah Cook from Freedom House provided testimony outlining the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) strategies in spreading its propaganda overseas. Although her report was in English and not Chinese, her findings are important, so Chinascope has included them in a briefing.

The CCP’s Propaganda efforts have taken three primary forms:

1) Aggressive attempts to expand state-run media outlets’ reach and influence inside the United States. These efforts have included high-profile initiatives like Xinhua news agency’s advertisements in Time Square, the appearance of China Daily newspaper boxes on streets in major U.S. cities, and the launch of China Central Television (CCTV) America—recently rebranded as China Global Television Network (CGTN) America. In the Chinese-language media sphere, this effort has been going on for over 20 years, resulting in CCTV being accessible to over 90 million households in the United States and a series of free pro-Beijing newspapers displacing the earlier dominance of Taiwan and Hong Kong-affiliated papers.

2) Insinuating state-media content into mainstream media or other existing dissemination channels. Chinese officials and state-media reports have referred to this strategy as “borrowing the boat to reach the sea” (借船出海). This phrase refers to disseminating Chinese state-media content via the pages, frequencies, or screen-time of privately owned media outlets that have developed their own local audiences. This strategy has a long history of use in the Chinese-language environment, such as via the provision of Xinhua newswire content for free. In recent years, its robust expansion to English-language media has garnered much attention and public debate. One of the most prominent examples has been the emergence of China Watch—a paid insert sponsored by the state-run China Daily—that has appeared both in print and online in prominent U.S. papers like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. In November 2015, a Reuters investigation revealed that programming from the state funded China Radio International (CRI) was appearing on stations in 15 U.S. cities, including Washington DC, via intermediaries of a privately owned media group.

3) Co-opting or partnering with privately owned media to produce and publish content that serves Beijing’s aims: Not all pro-CCP propaganda appearing in U.S. media necessarily originates from writers and editors at Chinese-state run media outlets. Rather, Chinese diplomats and other officials have gone to great lengths to develop “friendly” relations with private media owners and reporters, encouraging them to produce their own content that promotes key narratives favored by Beijing. Outlets and diaspora media owners whose reporting portrays Beijing positively are frequently rewarded with advertising, lucrative contracts for non-media enterprises, joint ventures, and even political appointments. In several instances, Chinese state-media have also purchased small financial stakes in overseas media to solidify such a relationship. Examples of these dynamics are evident in two media entities whose content is disseminated in many parts of the United States. First, the above-mentioned Reuters investigation revealed that only part of the content aired on radio stations owned or leased by CRI’s U.S.-based partner G&E Studio originates from CRI. Other segments are produced by G&E Studio itself in California. Nevertheless, their messaging matches that of Chinese state propaganda. A second example is that of Phoenix TV, the second most widely available Chinese-language television station on cable in the United States. Owned by a former military officer with close ties to Beijing officials, Phoenix TV’s coverage is typically favorable to the CCP.

Censorship and other attempts to suppress the spread of information deemed undesirable by the regime have taken a variety of other, often more subtle forms.

– Direct action by Chinese diplomats, local officials, security forces, and regulators both inside and outside China. These measures obstruct news gathering, prevent the publication of undesirable content, and punish overseas media outlets that fail to heed restrictions.

– Economic “carrots” and “sticks” to induce self-censorship among media owners and their outlets headquartered outside mainland China.

– Indirect pressure applied via proxies—including advertisers, satellite firms, and foreign governments—who take action to prevent or punish the publication of content critical of Beijing.

Source: USCC, May 4, 2017
https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Sarah%20Cook%20May%204th%202017%20USCC%20testimony.pdf

New Regulations Ban Non-State-Owned Organizations from Internet News Editorial Business

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that the State Internet Information Office just announced new Regulations for the Internet News Information Services. The new Regulations separated the Internet news editorial business from the Internet news operational business. Only state-owned organizations can conduct the editorial business. Non-stated-owned organizations can republish and redistribute authorized news on the Internet, with the condition that the sources, original captions, original authors and editors are carried over to the republished version. The republished sources of the Internet news must be traceable. The new regulations cover all websites, applications, forums, blogs, microblogs, public social media accounts, instant messaging and direct Internet broadcasting channels. All organizations providing internet news editorial services must first register with the government. These state-owned organizations are required to establish the position of Chief Editor, who will be held responsible for following the regulations.

Source: Sina, May 2, 2017
http://news.sina.com.cn/c/nd/2017-05-02/doc-ifyetstt4169079.shtml

Chinese Family Pays Record Bail Amount

(In Hillsborough, California, in the United States) after Tiffany Li’s family provided a bond worth over US$70 million to bail Tiffany, 31, out while she was going through a murder trial, Tiffany Li and her family were exposed as having ties to a former top Chinese General.

Tiffany Li and her boyfriend were charged with the murder of Li’s ex-boyfriend, Keith Green, who was found dead last May. The judge granted Li’s motion for bail in the amount of US$35 million. Li’s family provided 13 real estate properties as collateral (collateral needs to be twice the required cash amount). Li was then freed on bail.

This bail amount was a record high for San Mateo County, California and ranked eighth highest bail in U.S. history ever to be posted in a state court.

People started to dig into Tiffany Li’s background. It was found that her mother Li Jihong was the sister of Li Jinai (李继耐), former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General and Director of the PLA’s General Political Department. An unofficial report indicated that the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection had been investigating Li Jinai for corruption since August 2016.

Li Jihong, 62, immigrated to the U.S. many years ago. In 1992, she founded Top Toyo Lotus Construction Development, Inc. in the U.S. Top Toyo Lotus invested $2.4 million in a joint venture (Ji Tai Construction & Installation Company) with a military construction unit, to conduct a real estate development business in China.

Source: Duowei, April 20, 2017
http://china.dwnews.com/news/2017-04-20/59811598.html

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