ANI Photo | Pushing the CCP narrative: China looks to influence Sri Lankan media

Colombo [Sri Lanka], October 19 (ANI): The Chinese government, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, is targeting news consumers globally using massive campaigns to influence media outlets, according to media watchdogs.
A recent Freedom House report found Beijing has established new routes through which Chinese state media content can reach vast audiences, incentivizing self-censorship on topics disfavored by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and co-opting government officials and media owners in some countries to assist in spreading propaganda narratives or suppressing critical coverage.
In some countries, such as Israel and Italy, the local China Radio International (CRI) correspondents are highly active and charismatic, garnering hundreds of thousands of followers or viewers on their social media accounts. Other employees at CRI who act more as cultural or lifestyle influencers target users in countries like Sri Lanka through their Facebook pages, which are labeled as state-controlled.
“Some of the success of these accounts may be attributable to advertising campaigns; in Sri Lanka, an investigation revealed that Chinese state media accounts were running ads on Facebook targeting Sri Lankan audiences in 2020 and 2021, a period that coincided with a leap in their number of followers,” the Freedom House report said.
China’s growing influence in Sri Lanka can be traced back to the government of former two-time President Mahinda Rajapaksa and predates China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to International Republican Institute (IRI) report.

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In a report titled “Chinese Malign Influence and The Corrosion of Democracy”, the IRI researchers said China assisted the Sri Lankan government financially, diplomatically and militarily during the final stages of its 26-year campaign against the separatist Tamil Tigers, which ended with the government’s victory in 2009.
“China’s support for the Rajapaksa administration continued in the postwar years (when the Sri Lankan government was accused of human rights violations), and set the stage for Sri Lanka’s current dependence on China. Both governments touted the package of economic investments offered to Sri Lanka at the time as mutually beneficial,” it says.
The report goes on to state that the Sri Lankan media industry has also had to endure censorship and attacks on journalists, which have stifled the industry’s development. In the rare cases in which journalists undertake investigative reporting on sensitive subjects, they are met with restricted access to information.
It says that China is also now investing in Sri Lanka’s media sector, as it has in other countries, raising the prospect for even greater influence in the country’s information space.
“Therefore, a stronger and more independent media is critical to educating the public about the risks of foreign interference to their democracy and longterm prosperity,” it adds. (ANI)

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This report is filed by ANI news service. TheNewsMill holds no responsibility for this content.

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