China is not only tightening control over domestic web content, it is also exerting influence over foreign media.
A hearing on this topic was held on May 4 by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC).
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) maintains vigilant control over the spread of information, said experts at the hearing. It recently issued new rules that further censor online medias and limit access to foreign media content.
In addition, to gain access to the Chinese market, foreign medias must yield to conditions set by the CCP. This includes providing source codes and customer data, and conducting self reviews.
“The whole promise of the internet was everybody having access to the free flow of information, so they have to compromise their values to do business in China. That’s a difficult business decision. And controls in China over access to the internet also means that U.S. companies that aren’t in tech have difficulty getting access to Chinese consumers,” said Carolyn Bartholomew, chairman of USCC.
The experts said the CCP makes big investments to expand its state-run media presence in the United States. It pays for inserts in mainstream newspapers that promote the regime’s agenda, and suppresses independent outlets by creating unfair competition.
“Elements like pressuring advertisers, possible cable television companies to not let stations like New Tang Dynasty Television on the air, and so you have a situation where China Central Television, the state broadcaster has a lot of reach, and independent broadcasters in Chinese don’t have as much reach. But that’s a manipulation, because when you actually look like the website statistic, you see that New Tang Dynasty is actually more popular in the United States than CCTV,” said Sarah Cook, senior research analyst on East Asia at Freedom House.
The Commission recommends U.S. government support for small- to medium- sized independent medias, and resist CCP efforts to infiltrate the U.S. media market.