China seeks to control Pakistani media: US report

US report alleges China's extensive international media influence efforts, including seeking control over Pakistani media and shaping global narratives

China and Pakistan's media corridor sparks international scrutiny (photo: Mani Rana/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
China and Pakistan's media corridor sparks international scrutiny (photo: Mani Rana/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


China has developed a web of international operations to have a say over media narratives and seeks to gain significant control over the Pakistani media, an official US report has said.

In addition to working closely with Russia in the information space, China has attempted to enlist other close partners to counter unfavourable narratives, the State Department said in a report released last week. Prominent among them is Pakistan, it said.

“With Pakistan, Beijing has sought to deepen cooperation on ‘combating disinformation’, including under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Media Forum,” said the report.

Beijing and Islamabad use the Media Forum to address what they view as propaganda and “malicious disinformation” and have launched initiatives like the “CPEC Rapid Response Information Network” and, most recently, pledged to launch the China-Pakistan Media Corridor (CPMC), it said.

According to the State Department report in 2021, China sought to negotiate significant control over Pakistani media as part of the China-Pakistan Media Corridor, including establishing a jointly operated “nerve center” to monitor and shape Pakistan’s information environment.

The scope of the proposal, which does not appear Islamabad seriously entertained, and the fact that the mechanisms it detailed appeared to disproportionately benefit Beijing is notable as an explicit example of Beijing’s ambition to assume direct control over a close partner’s domestic information environment, it said.

China's draft concept paper called for China and Pakistan governments to establish a “nerve center” to monitor Pakistan’s information environment by streamlining inputs from think tanks, opinion leaders, CPEC study centres, media organisations, PRC companies, and even local Confucius Institutes.

“The proposed nerve centre would have relied on “three mechanisms” and “two platforms” to carry out this mission. The mechanisms would have provided means to convert important reports into Urdu products to sway popular opinion; provide PRC Embassy reports directly to Pakistan’s official press release system; and monitor and respond to public criticism about the PRC,” said the State Department.

The two proposed platforms called for the creation of a joint PRC-Pakistan authoritative system for “dispelling rumours” and a news feed application to promote approved news to the local market, it said.

In its report, the State Department alleged that China spends billions of dollars annually on foreign information manipulation efforts. Beijing uses false or biased information to promote positive views of China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

At the same time, China suppresses critical information that contradicts its desired narratives on issues such as Taiwan, its human rights practices, the South China Sea, its domestic economy, and international economic engagement, it said.

More broadly, China seeks to cultivate and uphold a global incentive structure that encourages foreign governments, elites, journalists, and civil society to accept its preferred narratives and avoid criticising its conduct, it said. 

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 05 Oct 2023, 10:51 AM