As previously reported on CDT, the Chinese government plans to invest RMB 45 billion into domestic media organizations which target overseas audiences. Part of that money would fund the creation of a television station devoted exclusively to broadcasting global news for international viewers, similar to the Al-Jazeera network based in Qatar.
David Wolf at Silicon Hutong proposes five reasons why China’s interest in creating its own Al-Jazeera reflects a positive change in the mindset of the country’s leadership. Visit his blog to read all five:
Recent revelations that China is planning on investing over US$7 billion in an effort to create a credible global radio and television news service using Al-Jazeera English as a model have provoked comments that range from the dismissive to the skeptical to the paranoid.
I am not convinced China is going to create a credible global voice in the near term, but I think it is only a matter of time before it happens. Rather than concern America and the world, however, we should see this effort as a positive development because even the sketchy details we have of the program suggest a new maturity in China’s approach to strategic communications, public diplomacy, and indeed world opinion.
1. China Needs to Care About What the World Thinks – the fact that China is ready to undertake this effort means that China’s senior leadership acknowledges that global opinion matters to China. This may be obvious to those of us steeped in communications, international relations, soft power, and/or public diplomacy, but it is a light-bulb moment for China’s leaders. Since declaring the People’s Republic sixty years ago, China has maintained an almost cussed independence of action, speaking and acting as if it cared nothing for what the world thought. This is apparently no longer the case, and that opens a new series of doors to influence Chinese policy.
2. If You Build It, They May Not Care – whatever else China Radio International, CCTV-4, and CCTV-9 have accomplished, their growing availability worldwide has not had much apparent effect on how China is perceived abroad. China’s leaders have learned an important lesson: they do not get a hearing purely by virtue of China’s size or growing importance.