Beijing's Global Media Offensive: China's Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World.

AuthorMustaffa, Munira

Beijing's Global Media Offensive: China's Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World. By Joshua Kurlantzick. New York: Oxford University Press, 2023. Softcover: 534pp.

In February 2023, China announced plans to train 5,000 security personnel from developing countries over the next five years to help them address global security challenges such as counter terrorism, cyber security, biosecurity and emerging technologies. Given the nature of security cooperation, some China watchers perceived this undertaking as an instrument for Beijing to further cultivate relationships with developing nations to counterbalance the influence of the West.

This particular initiative exemplifies the core arguments presented by Joshua Kurlantzick in his new book, Beijing's Global Media Offensive. Kurlantzick's thesis, which builds on his 2007 book Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power is Changing the World, explains Beijing's efforts to enhance its global influence by utilizing its state-controlled media. The author succeeds in presenting a comprehensive summary of China's media strategy, which often involves investing heavily in local media outlets in neighbouring countries to compete with other global media outlets and leveraging them to promote pro-Chinese Communist Party views while suppressing critics of the regime. The book highlights the critical role played by the China Global Television Network (CGTN) and Xinhua in Beijing's efforts to revitalize and modernize its soft power while also learning from its limitations. Kurlantzick's explanation of how China takes advantages of emerging media technologies to develop technology-enabled authoritarianism is a particularly fascinating aspect of the book.

The author presents a series of case studies examining China's media inroads into countries like Australia, Taiwan and New Zealand, as well as regions such as Southeast Asia, showcasing how these initiatives have been used to promote China's interests and influence the local media discourse. In addition, the book explores China's attempts to extend its media outreach on a global scale, through, for example, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Confucius Institutes. Here, Kurlantzick identifies three different approaches that Beijing employs while explaining how China's charm offensive era contributed to the development of these strategies: the soft power approach (diplomacy and culture); the hard power approach (economics and military); and the sharp...

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