Propaganda & Silence in Western Media (wip)
Beijing’s attacks target the conscience of public officials, organizations, and supporters in the West, all with the aim of marginalizing Falun Gong worldwide.
Western media coverage of persecution and overall view of Falun Gong changed its tone multiple times over time. When the crackdown started, Falun Gong was rather unknown practice in the West, and the media pieces were a mix of some great journalism (Pulitzer Winner) on one side, but also publishing CCP’s anti-Falun Gong rhetoric on the other. Few months into the persecution the tone of major media aligned even more with CCP viewpoint of the practice. Then, suddenly for about the next 20 years, almost entire media blackout happened when it comes to Falun Gong.
In the past decade CCP purchased spaces in American media for its propaganda “news”. And reports of other CCP linked companies gained more financial holding and influence over American businesses. Reports of experts, journalists and influencers being offered money by the CCP… Lately, with only a few notable exceptions, pieces mentinoing falun gong voice CCP’s new propaganda talking points — that are tailored to the trigger western society.
- Key Areas:
- CCP Funding Outlets in the West — The CCP funds and controls almost all Chinese-language publications within the Chinese communities in the West; on top of that, for many years the CCP paid prominent American media to carry its propaganda news inserts.
- CCP Coersing Experts, Scholars, Journalists and other Influencers — Leaked CCP directives for overseas operations uncovered CCP’s efforts to have foreign media and experts take a tone more favorable to the CCP on Falun Gong.
- Western Media Avoiding or Killing Stories — The Center has documented many cases of media outlets killing Falun Gong stories, cancelling Falun Gong interviews, and dubious meetings between CCP officials and major media leaders/publishers. Since 2002, the persecution was covered very sporadically in major US media, or not at all. Articles from recent years heavily use CCP views, rhetoric and propaganda talking points.
- Internet Search & Social Media Question Marks — Major search engines place CCP’s propaganda pieces and state-run websites high-up in the search results as credible sources on the topic of Falun Gong and the persecution. Lately, social media platforms have increasingly restricted persecution-related content from human rights advocates in the west.
- Financial Ties to China — Many Western media companies have majority owners or parent companies with investments and other significant business ties with China. At the very least, this represents a significant conflict of interest between profits and candid, fair reporting on the Falun Gong human rights crisis.
Is There Evidence?
- China: Leaked Documents from 610 Office Reveal Directives for Manipulation of Western Media — A 2017 document was leaked from the 610 Office, which clearly outlines the CCP’s strategy of mobilizing foreign journalists and international media to report on Falun Gong in a manner that more closely matches Beijing’s own demonization of the practice (Link).
“By … cultivating non-governmental forces, we can fight heretical religions such as “Falun Gong,” thereby mobilizing influential and friendly people such as experts, scholars, journalists, and overseas Chinese community leaders to speak up. We should strive to have foreign media take a tone more favorable to us [on Falun Gong].” – Leaked document from the 610 Office
- France: Report by The French Military School Strategic Research Institute (IRSEM) — The report details CCP’s infiltration and influence of international governments, unveils the comprehensive “United Front” framework by the CCP to control others through overseas Chinese, media, diplomacy, economy, politics, education, think tanks, and culture. The report highlights 79 instances of the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong. These includes concrete examples of how the CCP bought off overseas Chinese media and Chinese organizations to spread fake information that demonizes Falun Gong and incites hatred. (FDI, IRSEM)
- USA: Research Exposes Massive CCP-funded Internet Operation: Wumao or the 50-cent Army — Harvard Berkman Center 2005 Study, (CECC Study, Link), 2017 Harvard researched exposed massive internet operation of internet “trolls”, called wumao, or 50-cent army. 488 million fabricated social media posts per year … text here (Harvard Study) (Washington post, Link) (OpenNet mentions FG, Link), VOA, NYT,
- Argentina: CCP Paid Publications to Slander Falun Gong — In April 2020, a CCP agent provided 20,000 pesos (about 310 USD) to editors-in-chief of numerous Argentinian media to publish articles against Falun Gong written in “crappy Spanish.” The media targeted included El Cronista Comercial, Diario Popular, and online platform Infobae. This article contained a large amount of false information about Falun Gong and was meant to destroy Falun Gong’s reputation. (FDI)
- Youtube influencers reveal Chinese embasies offer forward — Several youtubers came forward saying Chinese embassies reach out to them with money to promote CCP propaganda — text here
Timeline: Journalism, Money, Propaganda & Silence
- Early days of Persecution: Front covers of the New York Times, and Pulitzer prize for Washington Post — When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) first launched the campaign to eliminate Falun Gong, it did make headline news around the world. In 1999 alone, Falun Gong was featured on the cover of the New York Times on six separate occasions. Throughout 2000, the Wall Street Journal ran a series of investigative articles that exposed how Falun Gong practitioners were routinely imprisoned and tortured, sometimes to death, around China. These articles won the Journal a Pulitzer for investigative journalism. Unfortunately, most Western media reports were based around statements by Chinese officials and state-run media, and thus carried CCP’s lies and false narratives about Falun Gong.
- CCP Public Security Harasses Western Journalists in China — Chinese authorities began to harass foreign journalists who had been covering the unfolding crackdown on Falun Gong. Five foreign reporters who attended a secret news conference with Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing, had their credentials temporarily taken away by Chinese public security authorities. The following week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called in these journalists to issue warnings.
“Our members have been followed, detained, interrogated and threatened. Television reporters have had satellite transmissions interfered with and video shipments delayed. A number of members have had their press cards and residence permits indiscriminately confiscated, and some have been threatened with further, more serious action.” —The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China letter of protest to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, November 10, 1999
- New York Times Publisher meets with CCP Leader Jiang Zemin, The Architect of Persecution of Falun Gong — In 2001, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger traveled to China to meet with then-CCP leader Jiang Zemin. Within days, nytimes.com was unblocked in China (and remained so for some time), and a team was established to build a Chinese-language edition of the New York Times. And for the next two decades, the Times was suspiciously quiet on Falun Gong, even as rival media, including the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal continued to cover the story in-depth for at least another year or two. (Link)
- “Journalistic Tone” about Falun Gong changes, Deafening Silence follows — A few months into the persecution, western media reports started to increasingly feature Chinese regime talking points in their Falun Gong coverage, often without any significant inquiry into the validity of the accusations made by the CCP. Beginning in 2002, however, the coverage fell off a cliff completely. Except a 2008 piece in New York Times and several articles in the last few years covering forced organ harvesting atrocities, there has not been a single significant article in any of the top five U.S. news outlets on the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
- CCP Propaganda Inserts in Major US News Outlets — For many years, major American media outlets carried the CCP’s propaganda inserts called China Watch: the New York Times (2012–2019), Wall Street Journal (2016–2020), Washington Post (2011–2019), LA Times (2008–2018), and USA Today (2017–2019). New York City allowed Xinhua’s “news” screen to display CCP’s propaganda in a prominent place on Times Square (2011–2019). Chinese state television CCTV is present on American cable. Most of these contracts ended in 2019, under the Trump administration.
- Many Western Media Owners have Significant Business Ties in China — It is also worth noting that many Western media companies have majority owners or parent companies with significant business ties with China. At the very least, this represents a significant conflict of interest between profits and candid, fair reporting on the Falun Gong human rights crisis. (Video)
- CCP Tailors Its Anti-Falun Gong Message to Strike a Nerve with Host Countries — The implementation of 610 Office’s directive has appeared to tangibly impact reports by Western media that echo the CCP’s propaganda against Falun Gong: the exact same phrases, heretic slurs, and defaming language used by Chinese state-run media have been included in some Western media reports, and like their Chinese state-run counterparts, pay little heed to reality.
For example, in an October 24, 2020 New York Times article, the author propagates the false claim that Falun Gong belief “forbids interracial marriage.” Even the most basic exploration of Falun Gong communities throughout the United States, and indeed around the world, prove this to be false. On the contrary, interracial marriages and families are quite common.
misinformation likely stems from English-language Chinese government websites and other official sources, which tailor their anti-Falun Gong messaging according to the narratives that have the best chance of striking a nerve in the host country. As racial tensions have soared in the United States in recent years, these Chinese government websites moved “racial discrimination” accusations to the top of their anti-Falun Gong propaganda pages.
- NYT Reporter: Kills story on Falun Gong Organ Harvesting — Former New York Times Beijing correspondent Didi Kirsten Tatlow’s testimony to the China Tribunal suggests not only that forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience did take place in China, and that it was an open secret among transplant surgeons, but notably, that the New York Times actively discouraged her from reporting on this fact.
- UK Prosecutor: BBC Pulled a Film about Organ Harvesting — Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who led the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic in former Yugoslavia, and was a chair of the China Tribunal in London, stated during interview for documentary Canaries in the Cold War, “On the 17th of June 2019, on this day there was a film [about the investigation of Organ Harvesting] going out on Newsnight, which is BBC’s principal evening program. In the afternoon the program was pulled. One of the reasons it was pulled was because the British Foreign Office walked into the BBC, metaphorically, and said ‘Don’t broadcast this.’ I thought it was pretty shocking that the Foreign Office would take that step.” (Film)
- Questionable Google & Youtube Behavior — Google search listings place CCP official outlets such as the CCP embassy’s articles demonizing Falun Gong as most credible and among the top search results. It’s search ‘predictions’ and ‘related searches’ would show at the very top of the list a line: “Falun Gong is Dangerous“, which is hardly a searched term or question, but a statement.
Youtube’s algorithm have automatically removed hashtags with #PersecutionOfFalunGong and #OrganHarvesting when publishing a video. The Center tested adding this hashtag with with a typo in it, the line with the typo would appear, with correct spelling it would disappear (April 2020). Recently videos with evidence of CCPs persecution were increasingly more restricted by Youtube under its expanding “community guidelines”. Videos planned to be used as Youtube ads were not approved and labeled as “shocking content”, even when it is just a victim or investigator exposing the CCPs persecution. (gallery, video, article, ntd on sy)
- The Vicious Cycle of Wikipedia: Whitewashing & Propaganda — CCP strong hold over topics realated to its crimes, human rights abuses and sensitive topics. is a battlefield of its one, which comes up as the top search result often, and whitewashing the persecution & accusing FG using both Chinese methods of propaganda as well as CCPs adjusted talking points for the west that have nothing to do with reality, for example claiming that: against interracial marriage)
- Other social media — Running ads, posts being Twitter… Facebook – factchecking and restrictions, covering images with message
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