Under the French Ministry of Defense, the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Military Academy (IRSEM) published an analysis report on “China’s influential actions.” The report shows that, in terms of cultural penetration, the CCP exports film and television products, on the one hand, to achieve the purpose of propagating and spreading fake information; and on the other hand, using interests to threaten, influence, and censor foreign cultural and artistic works.
5 organizations exporting cultural products, propagating the CCP’s rhetoric
In 2017, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that the total export value of China’s cultural products was $90 billion, of which the export value of film and television products exceeded $400 million. China Daily reported that in the same year, China translated more than 1,600 films and TV series into 36 foreign languages, including English, French, Russian and Arabic, etc., and broadcast them in about 100 countries.
Below are five agencies and organizations that have promoted essential effects.
China International Television Corporation (CITVC) founded in 1984, is a subsidiary of China Central Radio and Television Corporation (CMG). CITVC has established partnerships with foreign channels, focusing on broadcasting and promoting Chinese dramas.
China Television, Film and Radio Programs Exchange Center (CHNPEC) is one of the leading organizations dedicated to marketing and promoting Chinese TV series and movies worldwide.
China International Film and Television Program Exhibition (CIFTPE) is organized by the National Administration of Radio, Film, and Television of China and CMG, showcasing China’s export achievements and international cooperation progress in the international arena.
The Culture, Film, and Television Import-Export Business Cooperation Association (FTIEA) was established in 2017 with the State Council Press Office and the General Department of Broadcasting, with more than 50 members. As People’s Daily reported in 2017, these cooperative members are committed to producing film and television works that “express the core values of socialism.”
Silk Road Television International Cooperation Community (BRMC) was established in 2016 to develop the international influence of the “Belt and Road Community.” According to Xinhua News Agency by 2017, the organization’s global members and partners had grown to 85 media channels.
Which of the above organizations have spread China’s cultural products abroad?
According to the IRSEM report, in addition to the usual Chinese-produced TV series and movies, they also export “patriotic” films such as “Operation Red Sea” “Wolf Warrior,” which attempts to create a positive image of CCP soldiers and brainwash foreign audiences.
The sci-fi movie “the Lost Earth,” which they exported, depicts that when humanity is facing the danger of extinction, and the Americans are nowhere to be seen, the Chinese have fought to the end and ultimately save all humankind.
In addition to dramas and movies, the CCP also strengthens its cultural influence through video games. In recent years, Chinese video game companies have launched a strategy to acquire many foreign companies.
For example, Tencent acquired a 40% stake in the U.S. company Epic Games (which develops games like Fortnite) in 2012; an 80% stake in the New Zealand company Grinding Gear Games (referred to as GGG, which develops games like Path of Exile) in 2018.
According to the IRSEM report, China’s Communist Party’s (CCP) penetration of the gaming market has increased its influence and ability to control anti-communist speech that violates the CCP’s stance, and at the same time turned the market into a robust tool to spread false news.
Preventing art companies from performing, harassing and pressuring foreign businesses
In 2017, the Chinese Embassy pressured the Royal Danish Theater to prevent the Falun Gong-related Shen Yun Performing Arts from performing in the theatre. The IRSEM report said that, at times, the CCP’s pressure is so widespread within China’s business partner circle that the CCP doesn’t need to do it on its own. Local related businesses do it instead.
In 2018, the Royal Court Theater in London refused to host a performance reflecting on Tibet. They were not pressured by the CCP but received a recommendation from the British Cultural Council that they would harm the operation of the Royal Theater in China if they performed.
In addition, Beijing often pressures publishers to remove posted content in areas where works are brokered, such as photos posted on websites or social media.
Patrick Wack, author, and photographer of the Xinjiang Photo Collection (Dust, André Frère Éditions, 2021), is acutely aware of this. Initially, the Kodak company asked him to post more than a dozen works on the company’s Instagram account. Once released, the photo and a caption attached by the author exposed the CCP’s persecution in Xinjiang.
“I think Chinese nationalists have harassed them, and the company’s management is scared,” Wack said. The report says that Kodak’s apology message is very similar to the message of many companies that have bowed to the CCP’s censorship regime.