China is spending billions on its foreign-language media

ON THE 26th floor of an iconic glass skyscraper, nicknamed the “Trousers”, in Beijing’s main business district, half a dozen casually dressed 20-somethings gather in a rainbow-coloured lounge, chatting away on ergonomic chairs. The office has the vibe of a hip tech startup. In fact, it is the headquarters of the country’s foreign-language television service, which rebranded itself in 2016 as China Global Television Network (CGTN). The young staff are Chinese who have studied abroad and are proficient in one of the network’s five languages—English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian. CGTN is at the forefront of China’s increasingly vigorous and lavishly funded efforts to spread its message abroad. Xi Jinping, the president, has told the station to “tell China stories well”.

CGTN—a consolidation of the foreign-language operations of CCTV, the state broadcaster—is secretive about its budget but open about its ambitions to compete with global broadcasters such as CNN and the BBC. In…Continue reading


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