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Report Exposes Journalists Who Enjoyed CCP-Sponsored Trips, Fake French Reporter and Other Chinese Propaganda

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: April 30, 2021
Several Western journalists have written in CCP's favor after being gifted with expensive trips.
Several Western journalists have written in CCP's favor after being gifted with expensive trips. (Image: kalhh via Pixabay)

A recently published article by the National Pulse has exposed a slew of Western mainstream journalists who have put out favorable coverage of China after being treated with expensive trips paid for by the communist regime.

The trips, mostly arranged through CCP-backed China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), often came just before the Western collaborators wrote articles excusing the Chinese Communist Party’s negative actions or opposing the West’s trade sanctions. Many of these journalists have been praised by President Joe Biden and are related to potential members of his administration. The National Pulse report highlighted the cases of the following pro-CCP Western journalists:

  • Catherine Rampell, a columnist at the Washington Post, wrote two opinion pieces titled “The Olympics gives China a second chance at human rights reforms” and “The U.S. and China fight for second place.” Both articles had a small disclaimer at the bottom where Rampell admits that she had taken a trip that was paid for by CUSEF.
  • Ronald Brownstein, senior editor at The Atlantic and senior political analyst at CNN, wrote articles against Western criticism of China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also accused former President Donald Trump of racism in a May 19 tweet: “Trump’s latest offensive to blame 100k American dead on China & World Health Organization handling of ‘Wuhan virus’ is not only a return to familiar cultural/racial polarization but also the latest reminder that when all you have is a hammer literally everything looks like a nail.”  Brownstein made the comment after writing an op-ed for CNN in which he attacked the Trump administration for the U.S.-China trade conflict.
  • Ezra Klein, columnist at The New York Times, praised China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in a tweet that also included criticism of the U.S. government for “doing nothing and downplaying the threat.”
  • Steve Clemons, the editor at large at The Hill and a contributor at CNBC, was part of then-Vice President Joe Biden’s press pool in a 2013 trip to China. Biden apparently called Clemons a “very important man” in front of his Chinese counterpart. Back in 2012, he wrote an article titled “Biden gets China.” Clemons is also known to have expressed support for a China-led world. “Shanghai World Expo is huge – worth the effort – even on 100 degree day. Demonstrates a new global order in the making w/China as new anchor,” he said in a 2010 tweet.

In addition to spreading propaganda through Western journalists, Beijing also exploits its relationship with mainstream media outlets in the West. 

  • The Washington Post, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, features a supplement called “China Watch” that allows Beijing’s state media to publish their propaganda.
  • NBC Universal has a partnership with Chinese state-backed outlet Xinhua where they have agreed to cooperate on international news. Xinhua has been classified by Washington as a foreign mission.
  • Carlos Slim is the largest shareholder of The New York Times. He has close ties with several Chinese companies who, in turn, have ties with the Chinese regime.
  • ESPN, which is 80% owned by ABC, directed staff members not to criticize the Chinese government in the wake of the 2019 Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.

Chinese propaganda

While on one hand, Beijing tries to recruit journalists to its cause, it also monitors and harasses reporters that expose the atrocities committed by the communist regime. As reported by Voice of America, Australian researcher and reporter Vicky Xu was recently attacked online by thousands of pro-Beijing troll accounts with the aim of discrediting her for publishing a report detailing the persecution of Uyghurs by the Chinese Communist Party.

The report in question, “Uyghurs for Sale,” was co-authored for the Australia Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and estimated that around 80,000 members of the community were moved from the Xinjiang region to other parts of China between 2017 and 2019 to work in factories that are a part of the supply chain of at least 82 international brands.

The CCP is also seeking to seed chaos in American society by promoting destructive narratives within the country. For instance, Beijing is increasingly focusing on the racial and economic disparities in the United States, highlighting differences and exacerbating tensions. Chinese propaganda networks have been portraying recent BLM riots in the U.S. as racial injustice driven by police brutality and white nationalism.

Sarah Cook, research director for China and Hong Kong at Freedom House, notes that China is pouring more money into such disinformation efforts. “When China-linked networks of social media bots and trolls appeared on the global disinformation scene in 2019, most analysts concluded their impact and reach were fairly limited, particularly in terms of engagement by real users and relative to more sophisticated actors in this realm, like the Russian regime. As many China watchers anticipated, that assessment now seems to be changing,” she told VOA News.

Fake French reporter

Chinese state broadcaster CGTN was recently accused of using a fake French journalist in a report that blamed Western media for inaccurately reporting about the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The fake identity was described as a “freelance journalist” from France named Laurene Beaumond.

French outlet Le Monde conducted an investigation on the matter. They found absolutely no record of her at the university which CGTN claimed she had attended. Moreover, Le Monde found no record of an accredited French journalist by that name. CGTN accused Le Monde of peddling fake news for discrediting the identity of ‘Laurene Beaumond’ yet offered no evidence that the person actually exists.

The People’s Daily went on to accuse the West and its culture for doubting the existence of the reporter. “The West believes that it has an exclusive and unquestionable monopoly on what might be described as ‘political truth.’ Deriving from the legacy of Christianity, with its ontology tying the idea of ‘moralistic truth’ with ‘empirical truth’ and those who lack it being in darkness, the West advocates the idea that it is subsequently enlightened, with pure motivations and that those who challenge them are fueled by wickedness and bad faith,” reported an April 5 article.