Expert warns of Chinese propaganda effect

A partnership between the National University of Samoa's  NUS TV and China's Central China Broadcasting Television could lead to Samoans being exposed to Chinese state media propaganda, says an expert.  

China's official Government media outlet, China Central Television (C.C.T.V.) could be broadcast on Samoan television as part of a deal currently under discussion with the National University of Samoa's television station NUS TV.

N.U.S. President and Vice-Chancellor Aiono Professor Alec Ekeroma confirmed the discussions when contacted by the Samoa Observer in early last month, saying he only found out about the Chinese broadcaster being in Samoa before, but they pulled out as they didn’t consider the market viable for their operations.

In a response to email queries from the Samoa Observer on Tuesday, the Director of the Pacific Islands Programme of the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Jonathan Pryke highlighted the financial side of the partnership.

“It seems like the university is looking at the C.C.T.V. potential partnership largely through a financial lens,” Mr. Pryke said.

“Due consideration should also be placed on the quality of broadcast they get from CCTV, which has increasingly become more and more overt in its role as a State-owned media outlet championing the positions of the Chinese Communist Party, rather than provide unbiased and objective reporting.

“Investments in entertainment and news services like this are surely a good way for China to build its influence and champion its causes in the Pacific.”

The state-controlled broadcaster's news reporting on matters of sensitivity to China have led critics to accuse it of being a propaganda arm of the Chinese state.

Dissident Chinese intellectuals and commentators such as the Freedom House think tank have accused it of subjugating journalistic principles to present a positive image of the Government.

“There is certainly a good argument that we need to engage with and understand more about China, but we should all be careful that we do not fall into the trap of solely consuming Chinese propaganda,” Mr Pryke added.

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