World & U.S. News

Billions Spent, Minds Bent: How China’s Propaganda Machine Shapes Global Perceptions

China’s spends billions on propaganda, these efforts are more extensive and insidious than ever before, aiming to manipulate global perceptions of the country and its leadership. Is it working? Across 35 countries surveyed by Pew Research, views of China and President Xi Jinping vary dramatically, influenced by regional and economic factors.

The Global View of China

In high-income European countries, the sentiment towards China and Xi is largely negative. For example, only 11% of people in Sweden have a favorable view of China. In stark contrast, middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa tend to hold more favorable views. In Thailand, a striking 80% of people view China positively. This significant disparity underscores China’s strategic influence efforts, which vary by region.

High-income countries like Australia, Japan, and South Korea harbor notably negative perceptions of China, whereas middle-income countries like Malaysia and Thailand are more positive. In Singapore, ethnic Chinese citizens are particularly favorable towards China, illustrating how cultural ties can influence perceptions.

Changing Opinions Over Time

Views of China have fluctuated significantly over time. Favorable opinions have increased in Argentina, Canada, and Greece, but have plummeted in Israel and Hungary. In Israel, the decline is linked to China’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, which many Israelis perceived as critical of their country. In Hungary, initial positive views of China have waned due to recent geopolitical events.

The Influence of Youth and Ideology

Younger individuals tend to have more positive views of China compared to older generations. This trend is especially noticeable in countries like Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and the UK. However, in Hungary and South Korea, younger people are less favorable towards China.

In the US and Israel, political ideology also plays a role in shaping views of China. Liberals tend to view China more positively than conservatives, highlighting how political beliefs influence perceptions of international relations.

Confidence in Xi Jinping

Globally, confidence in Xi Jinping is low. A median of just 24% of people express some level of trust in him. This sentiment is particularly weak in North America and Europe. However, middle-income countries in the Asia-Pacific region, such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Thailand, show higher levels of confidence in Xi. In sub-Saharan Africa, countries like Kenya and Nigeria also exhibit more positive views of Xi compared to their counterparts.

The Role of AI in Propaganda

China’s propaganda machinery has become more sophisticated with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI). AI-generated videos, such as those in the “A Fractured America” series, highlight issues within the US, portraying it as a nation in decline. These videos leverage AI for efficient and cost-effective production, making it easier for China to disseminate its messages widely.

The Threat of Fake News Sites

China has also been linked to the creation of fake news sites that appear to be local news outlets but actually disseminate pro-China content. These sites, managed by firms like Shenzhen-based Haimai Media Corp, align their narratives with Chinese propaganda, attacking critics and promoting Beijing’s viewpoints. Although these sites have limited traffic, their potential to influence public opinion through search engines and social media remains significant.

The Dark Future of Influence Operations

As AI technology advances, the capability to generate realistic fake content will only improve, making it harder to distinguish between genuine and manipulated media. This poses a growing challenge for democracies worldwide, especially as they head into critical election years. The use of AI in influence operations could lead to more effective and widespread disinformation campaigns, necessitating robust countermeasures to protect the integrity of information.

So it appears that China’s sinister goals are not recognized in every country. China’s billions of dollars are paying off, in the form of 10’s of billions in trade and good will in developing nations. A good investment?

World & U.S. News

Leave a Reply