Beijing's Global Media Offensive
China’s Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World
Joshua Kurlantzick analyzes China's attempts to become a media, information, and influence superpower, seeking for the first time to shape the domestic politics, local media, and information environments of the United States, East Asia, parts of Europe, and the broader world.
- Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.
Since China’s ascendancy toward great power status began in the 1990s, many observers have focused on its economic growth and expanding military power. In contrast, most viewed China’s ability to project “soft power” through its media industries and its global influence campaigns as quite limited, and its ability to wield influence within the domestic politics of other countries as nonexistent. But as Joshua Kurlantzick shows in Beijing’s Global Media Offensive, both of these things have begun to change dramatically.
An incisive analysis of China’s attempt to become a media and information superpower around the world, and also wield traditional forms of influence to shape the domestic politics of other countries, the book shows China for the first time is actively seeking to insert itself into many other countries’ elections, social media, media, and overall politics, including that of the United States.
Kurlantzick focuses on how all of this is playing out in the United States, where Beijing has become the biggest spender on foreign influence activities, and also in China’s immediate neighborhood—Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand—as well as in Europe and other parts of the world. He also traces the ways in which China is increasingly collaborating with Russia in their efforts to become more powerful global influencers via disinformation and other tools, but critically examines whether Beijing has enjoyed great success with these efforts to wield power within other countries’ domestic societies and politics and media.
While China has worked hard at becoming a media superpower, it sometimes has failed to reap gains from its efforts. It has undermined itself with overly assertive, alienating diplomacy and is now broadly unpopular in many countries. Still, Kurlantzick contends, China’s media, information, disinformation, and more traditional influence campaigns will continue to expand and adapt, potentially helping Beijing to wield major influence over other countries’ politics—and to export its models of political and internet control. China’s efforts also may not only help protect the ruling party; they may also help China build alliances with autocracies and undermine press freedoms, human rights, and democracy across the globe.
An authoritative account of how this sophisticated and multipronged campaign is unfolding, this book provides a new window into China’s attempts to make itself an information and broader influence superpower.
CFR Fellows’ Book Launch Series: Beijing’s Global Media Offensive by Joshua Kurlantzick.
Watch an interview with the author held by the Global Taiwan Institute.
Listen to an interview with the author on The President's Inbox podcast with CFR's James M. Lindsay.
Listen to an interview with the author on Deep State Radio podcast.
Read an interview with the author in The National Interest.
Read an article from the author on how China has harnessed global information networks in The Diplomat.
Read an article from the author on China's influence efforts in Malaysia in Washington Monthly.
Read an article from the author on China's influence efforts in Australia in the Interpreter.
Read an article from the author on China's influence efforts in New Zealand in Stuff.co.nz.
Read the author's new op-ed on China’s failing influence campaign in Boston Globe Ideas.
Read part one of an excerpt published in Nikkei Asia on China's influence efforts with its diaspora.
Read Part Two of an excerpt published in Nikkei Asia on China's media influence.
Read an excerpt published in Foreign Policy on China's state media expansion.
Read an excerpt published in the National Post.
Read an article on the book on Axios.
Read the author's new op-ed in World Politics Review on China's influence operations in Central and Eastern Europe.
Read an interview with the author on 112Watch.
Reviews and Endorsements
A highly illuminating narrative and a remarkable articulation of how China builds sharp power around the world and wields influence especially in developing countries. The book is a must-read for anyone trying to understand China’s global information campaign.
Yun Sun, director of the China Program, Stimson Center
In Beijing’s Global Media Offensive, Joshua Kurlantzick has produced a lucid and penetrating investigation into the history, theory, and practice of China’s global influence efforts. He shows that behind a veil of ‘non-interference’ in other nations’ internal affairs, Beijing engages in a growing range of open and covert efforts to make friends, influence people, and shape foreign nations in ways supportive of its increasing global ambitions. Kurlantzick knows this terrain well, detailing the challenge posed by China’s global media and influence efforts, and what the democratic world can do in response. Essential reading for a dawning era of superpower competition.
Sebastian Strangio, Southeast Asia editor at The Diplomat and author of In the Dragon’s Shadow: Southeast Asia in the Chinese Century
This is a truly important book. Full of thoughtful insights and copious details, Joshua Kurlantzick has produced the missing link in our understanding of one of the most underappreciated geopolitical phenomena of our time: China’s use of media and information tools to present itself to the world in a benign light while undermining the United States and other liberal democracies. Kurlantzick leads the way for an important reconsideration of how political motivations, rather than economic concerns, are now the main driver behind China’s international engagement.
Joshua Eisenman, associate professor of politics, Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame
Foreign information campaigns in and against the United States are nothing new, but China’s global effort is unprecedented in scale. This detailed assessment brings the threat into focus and suggests important ways to counteract it.
John Bolton, U.S. national security advisor (2018–19) and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (2005–06)
In the NewsIs China Winning the Information Race?
The National InterestThe Aspen Readings (In Italian)
Aspenia InstituteChina Embraces Russian propaganda Tactics, Attempts to Impose ‘Xi Thought’
New Zealand HeraldChina Now Seen As Influencing Politics More Than Ever, on a Global Scale
CBCWhy China's Charm Offensive in the West Has Become a Political Fiasco (In Swedish)
Dagens NyheterHow I Became a Tool of China’s Giant Anti-American Propaganda Machine
Los Angeles TimesChina on the Offensive
The Foreign Service JournalBeijing’s Global Media Offensive: China’s Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World
Kyoto Review of Southeast AsiaChina Wields Sharp Power in Global Media Offensive
Pinter PolitikBeijing's Global Media Offensive
New Books NetworkBeijing’s Global Media Offensive: Book Review and Author Interview
The KootneetiChina’s “Information War” Against The World
Barkha Dutt LiveChinese Balloon Search Ends With Debris Recovered But Few Answers
BloombergChina Could Censor South Korean Content If Seoul Aligns With IRA, CHIPS Act
The Korea TimesU.S. Military Now Analyzing Chinese Balloon's 'Guts' After Completing Recovery
Japan TimesASEAN's Myanmar Problem
The Irrawaddy NewscastWhy Future is dim for U.S.-China Crisis Management
The Straits Times Asian InsiderLittle Scope for Better U.S.-China Crisis Management
The Straits TimesChina’s Sharp Power
Mekong ReviewChina's Global Influence Campaign
Pace UniversityMany Countries Get Reports From Beijing's State Media (In German)
Welt SichtenThis is How China Has Conquered the Media Space in Africa (In Spanish)
El PaísChina Trying to Increase Influence on Journalists in Southeast Asia Through Training Programs
The PrintHow China is Trying to Reshape the World
Hindustan TimesIs the Clock Ticking For TikTok?
The New Statesman'Beijing’s Global Media Offensive': China's Fight to Win Influence Around the World
Japan TimesThe Chinese Whispers That Are Getting Louder and Louder
The Sydney Morning HeraldBeijing's Global Media Offensive by Joshua Kurlantzick
Dari Mulut Ke Mulu Book Club PodcastBeijing's Global Media Offensive: Informing Alarmist and Oblivious Policymakers Alike
The Montréal ReviewInside China’s Global Propaganda Machine With Joshua Kurlantzick
The New StatesmanBiden’s 'Supercharged' African Diplomacy
PoliticoA Book Talk With Joshua Kurlantzick on "Beijing’s Global Media Offensive"
Global Taiwan InstituteBeijing's Charm Offensive
Great Power PodcastChina Turns On The Charm
PoliticoJosh Kurlantzick on China’s Media Offensive
The Wire ChinaBeijing's Global Media Offensive: A Conversation With Joshua Kurlantzick
Deep State RadioInterview With Joshua Kurlantzick On Beijing's Global Media Offensive
China Digital TimesChina: A Global Disinformation Empire
World News Reddit TalkChina's Choking On Its Own Communism
Bold & Blunt PodcastChina’s Global Influence Campaign, With Joshua Kurlantzick
The President's InboxChina's Media Mind Games
Asia StreamThe Existential Threat From Communist China: Insights From a Former FBI Crisis Officer
Epoch TimesU.S.-China Rivalry Increases Tension in Southeast Asia
Voice of AmericaChina Spending Money on State Media Outlets To Define Global Narrative
Indian Defence NewsRadio Interview: Beijing's Global Media Offensive
630 CHED Radio Edmonton & 770 CHQR Radio CalgaryWhat Now For China?
The American ProspectSharp Online Criticism Worries Censorship Specialists in China
The PrintPage 99: Joshua Kurlantzick's "Beijing's Global Media Offensive"
Campaign For the American ReaderNegative View of China Increases as Beijing’s Media Try to Boost Image Overseas
Voice of AmericaHas China Won the Global Media War?
Voice of AmericaBeijing's Media Power in Southeast Asia Grows
AxiosBook Talk: Beijing’s Global Media Offensive
Hopkins Podcast on Foreign AffairsChina's Media Coverage of COVID-19 Is Shifting
CFR Think Global HealthSharp Power Five Years Later
National Endowment for DemocracyHow China Became A Global Disinformation Superpower
CodaHow China’s ‘Sharp Power’ Is Growing and Evolving
Al JazeeraHow China Is Exporting 'High-Tech Authoritarianism' to the Middle East
DawnChina’s Biggest Newspaper Is Sending Mixed Signals About Long COVID
SemaforThe DSR Daily Bonus Brief: China Protests
Deep State RadioChina’s Push To Build An Overseas Media Empire
Radio Free AsiaProtests In China Highlight Beijing’s Efforts To Suppress Media
The HillAs Demonstrations Erupt In China, Xi Jinping Is Caught In His Own COVID Trap
The Philadelphia InquirerHow Chinese Citizens Are Evading Online Censors With Protest Content
SemaforChina Will Soon Match Russia In Fake News
La VanguardiaChinese Influence Operations Increasingly Include Meddling in US Elections
Epoch TimesHarris Is Traveling Near the South China Sea. Here's Why That Matters
NPRBiden Works To Shore Up Friendships With Asian Countries On Cambodia Trip
USA TodayHopes High As US-China Meet in G20 Summit
ABC CBN NewsNear-Total Silence on US Midterms From Chinese Media
SemaforChina’s Influence Campaign Falls Flat