China owns or controls the majority of Chinese-language media outlets in the U.S., says a Hoover Institution study.
Among the major Chinese-language media outlets, only a handful remain independent media outlets. Most of the other media outlets are either an extension of Beijing’s propaganda machine or very friendly with the mainland Chinese regime.
The Hoover Institution and Asia Society recently published a joint study. The study examined how strong China’s influencing activities were in the United States.
Information is a mass commodity in our society that consumes attention, which in turn brings up a shortage of the latter. This means that most people don’t really pay attention to who the information they are consuming is coming from and what its intentions are. It’s quite similar to eating fast food. As long as its tasty, oily, and salty, it’s good. But is it healthy and beneficial to sustaining the body’s longevity?
The importance of independent media
Titled Chinese Influence & American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance, the Hoover Institute report found that China has engaged in a campaign to influence America in all aspects of society. This means including the areas of Congress, state and local governments, the Chinese American community, universities, think tanks, media, corporations, and technology and research.
“In the American media, China has all but eliminated the plethora of independent Chinese-language media outlets that once served Chinese American communities. It has co-opted existing Chinese-language outlets and established its own new outlets.”
The following quote from an essay on The Australian Independent Media Network may show just how important the role of independent media outlets in society has actually become. “In a world where media oligarchies prevail, an increasing number of independent media outlets are flourishing. Without means of corporate investment advertising their products, nor the incentive of political party bias, how is it that these ‘revealers of the truth’ beyond the commercial media propaganda, are continuing and maintaining their uprising?”
In fact, according to the study, only a few major Chinese-language media outlets remain independent in the U.S. The majority are directly controlled by the Chinese regime. A large fraction is also controlled by businessmen who wilfully act as an extension to Beijing’s soft power.
The report surveyed the current media landscape and came to the following conclusion:
|Media Entity||Media Platform||Ownership|
|SinoVision||Television||PRC central government|
|Qiaobao/China Press||Newspaper||PRC central government|
|Sino American Times||Newspaper||PRC central government|
|Wenxuecheng||Website||Owned by pro-PRC Taiwan business|
|Duowei||Website||Owned by pro-PRC Hong Kong business|
|Mingjing/Mirror Media||Website||Friendly to Beijing|
|Backchina||Website||Friendly to Beijing|
|Sing Tao||Newspaper||Owned by pro-PRC Hong Kong business|
|World Journal||Newspaper||Friendly to Beijing|
|Ming Pao||Newspaper||Owned by pro-PRC Hong Kong business|
|Boxun||Website||Friendly to Beijing|
|Epoch Times/DaJiYuan||Newspaper, Website||Independent|
|New Tang Dynasty||Television, Website||Independent|
|Vision Times||Newspaper, Website||Independent|
”Given these efforts by Beijing, the space for truly independent Chinese-language media in the United States has shrunk to a few media outlets supported by the adherents of Falun Gong, the banned religious sect in China, and a small publication and website called Vision Times,” stated the report.
Why this matters
The aim of the report is to promote transparency, integrity, and reciprocity regarding the interaction between China and the United States. Information sculpts our intentions, motivations, and actions, which in a way are an embodiment of our opinions.
How does the quality of information, whether it is biased or independent, not affect the minds of its consumers, readers, and the nation? Seen in this light, how important is it that media outlets remain independent?
What needs to be done
In regard to Chinese-language media outlets, there are a few recommendations for action by the US government that experts suggest:
- Work to establish the real ownership structure of Chinese companies purchasing U.S.-based media. Find out who’s really behind them and may use the media as a mouthpiece.
- Consider whether media owning organizations should register under the existing lobbying laws as foreign agents.
- Establish opportunities and operations to aid independent Chinese-language media, so that independent journalism business models can have a space to survive.
- Private charitable foundations could also make a difference by helping independent media remain editorially independent while being financially viable at the same time.
- Ensure reciprocity for American journalists who attempt to do professional independent work in China. But, at the same time, limit the Chinese media or their journalists’ access to the U.S. market, as long as U.S. journalists cannot gain access to China.
To prevent society from being misinformed, it seems very important to promote those media outlets that actually make it their mission to objectively inform the public about what’s happening in the world.