January 19, 2021 7:00 am (EST)
The dramatic growth in trade and investment relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has not yet translated into a significant expansion of Beijing’s influence over the region’s media and civil society.
Claudia Trevisan is executive director of the Brazil-China Business Council. She was formerly the Washington correspondent of the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo. The Council on Foreign Relations acknowledges the Ford Foundation for its generous support of this project.
The dramatic growth in trade and investment relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has not yet translated into a significant expansion of Beijing’s influence over the region’s media and civil society. Certainly, China has launched many initiatives to increase its clout over journalists, academics, politicians, and policymakers in LAC, a region where the United States historically has wielded the most influence over these opinion leaders. But the results of China’s media, information, and civil society offensive in LAC have been mixed, and Beijing’s prospects for improving its regional soft power are still unclear.
Chinese ambitions to influence local media and promote Beijing’s preferred narrative – about issues related to Chinese foreign and domestic policy – through official Chinese news outlets are hindered by the unfree, staid nature of Chinese outlets like Xinhua and China Global Television Network, or CGTN. But while China’s state news outlets may be failing to win audience share and sway minds in Latin America and the Caribbean, Beijing has been more successful in other media, information, and civil society efforts.
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