Is China losing the media war abroad?

Domestic News

There is no question that whether the subject is internment camps in Xinjiang or the Hong Kong protests, Beijing is winning the propaganda and media war at home. Public opinion seems in line with the Party’s narrative. Even if it’s not, dissenting views are ruthlessly censored and suppressed.

But it’s different outside the Great Firewall. “From Hong Kong to the NBA, how China is losing the media war” reads a headline in the Nikkei Asian Review. The article focuses on how guerrilla media tactics adopted by protesters in Hong Kong “have amplified and broadcast their demands, exposed police aggression, and helped to give a human face to a pro-democracy movement that has vacillated between peaceful protest and violent resistance.” Meanwhile, the hopeless communication efforts from the Hong Kong and Beijing governments leave them “looking isolated and out of touch.”

Here are some other stories from around the globe that show the limits of Beijing’s ability to push its own narrative:

“A Malaysian-made, pro-Beijing comic book distributed in schools in the Southeast Asian nation has sparked outrage for suggesting Malays who support China’s Muslim Uygurs are radicals, with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also condemning the publication,” according to the South China Morning Post.

NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal has spoken out “in support of a basketball executive’s comments that sparked a row between the NBA and China,” reports the BBC: “The basketball legend said Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey ‘was right’ to tweet support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.”

Nonetheless, a Tencent stream of an NBA match between the Lakers and the Clippers got “a cool 15 million concurrent viewers,” per this tweet by Jordan Schneider. But “CCTV is sticking to its pledge to drop National Basketball Association coverage two weeks after a league official’s Twitter post roiled its business in the mainland,” according to Bloomberg.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert did a segment mocking American sports media companies that cave in to China:

“Vietnam has ordered a vehicle importer to remove navigation apps that show maps reflecting Chinese territorial claims that are rejected by Hanoi, adding to a wave of resistance against maps showing the ‘nine-dash line,’” reports the South China Morning Post.