China hosts seminar for developing countries on guiding public opinion and building a national brand

Last month, China hosted an event for Information Ministers from twenty developing countries titled “Actively Guiding Public Opinion and Building up Sound National Image.” According to Sierra Leone News:

The workshop focused on the cooperation and development between the Chinese and foreign media and information department encompassing political, economic, cultural and social aspects.

Participants raised grave concern about the negative media coverage given to developing countries despite efforts of these countries to match up with modern standards.

The Secretary General of the Information office in China, Mr. Feng Xwang said the western media controls the voice of news report thereby failing to report on the social life of the people.  He said Africa, Asia and South America should join forces with China to strengthen their media landscape and bring new opportunities to the media sector.

Vice Minister of the Information Office in Beijing, China, Professor Wang Zhong Wei in his presentation threw light on the rapid development of the Chinese media industry over the last three decades. He said that their media industry has become dynamic, best structured in terms of content and diversity. He said the Chinese information office is ready to embrace collaboration with other media organizations in developing countries to assist in the re-branding of developing nations.

In her contribution, Sierra Leone Deputy Information and Communication Minister suggested the establishment of an African Radio and Television station that would help tell the stories of developing countries better.

[Deputy Information of Information] Madam Saidata Sesay informed her colleagues that her government has recently transformed the then only government mouth piece radio and TV station to a public corporation in the interest of good governance. She appealed to the Chinese Information Office to reactivate the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA)  and to assist in the establishment of a media center which she believed would enhance media development and capacity building in that profession.

China is increasingly “ready to embrace collaboration” with developing countries, especially in Africa. However, it is more important to point out that China is increasingly active in the influence space: Xinhau is moving to Times Square, Radio China International is broadcasting in Galveston, Texas (not sure that was a wise buy, but…), China is expanding television programming in multiple languages, and so on. This expanded partnering with countries they want to expand trade with is a no brainer. It’s called public diplomacy. The activity of the broadcasting may be called propaganda, but that’s dependent on the content.

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One thought on “China hosts seminar for developing countries on guiding public opinion and building a national brand

  1. Matt: This really isn’t news. What would be news would be to learn that private Chinese citizens, on their own initiative outside the web of their Communist party-state, actually reached out to Sierra Leoneans (and Africans in general) in the true spirit of citizen diplomacy, just as generations of Americans have done.What this piece describes is the propagandistic efforts of a totalitarian system, where every entity—human and bureaucratic—serves the larger statist interests of the party. Surely there is a wonderfully composed strategic communications plan somewhere in Beijing that doesn’t have to suffer the complicating actions of a free citizenry.
    Noteworthy, however, is the reference to the action of the Chinese party-state as “public diplomacy.” Thus, the dilution of the term now has reached a point where we can dignify a totalitarian regime’s propaganda as mere public diplomacy—the moral equivalent of any democratic nation’s. While we’re at it, we might as well “rebrand” Goebbels as a “public diplomatist.” After, Nazi Germany conducted a formidable outreach to Latin America with some success, a la China in Africa

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