Report by: Ellie Young and Anonymous
- Steady media influence: Beijing’s media footprint in Peru is the result of a careful strategy that benefits from an earlier expansion of media cooperation. Local cable and satellite television providers carry China Global Television Network and China Central Television. Peruvian outlets distributed pro-Beijing content via special inserts, signed articles, and the magazine China Hoy. The embassy also expanded its social media activity during the coverage period of 2019-2021, and its posts were regularly referenced by Peruvian journalists as a source for reporting on China in the absence of more direct access to information.
- Support for bilateral ties but increasing skepticism: Recent controversies involving Chinese companies’ local activities noticeably hurt China’s reputation during the coverage period. In 2020, opinions on Chinese influence in Peru were mixed, but a majority of polling respondents still supported increasing trade and improving bilateral relations.
- Cooperation with local media: Chinese state media content was shared by both public and private mainstream outlets, including leading business newspapers. Peruvian state-owned media played a key role in disseminating pro-Beijing content via special inserts, signed articles, and the magazine China Hoy. Most Chinese state media content is clearly labeled.
- Subsidized press trips: Peruvian journalists participated in subsidized trips to China before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Both public and private media were represented at virtual regional media cooperation events organized by the Chinese Communist Party, which sought to promote a “constructive journalism” model that privileged positive messaging.
- Active and aggressive embassy: The Chinese embassy regularly engages with local broadcast outlets and provides opinion pieces that appear in mainstream publications. The embassy reacted strongly to local coverage of sensitive issues; in early 2020, for example, it challenged reports on the origins of COVID-19. It published “fact sheets” in response to local reporting of alleged influence-peddling by Chinese companies and official corruption; it also warned local politicians to “stop spreading lies immediately.” Diplomatic personnel reacted aggressively to local coverage that appeared to support Taiwanese independence and to perceived US efforts to “smear” Beijing’s regional relationships. This behavior may have prompted local journalists to engage more cautiously when covering China-related stories.
- Propaganda and bilateral relations boosted by local voices: Chinese state media and diplomats regularly highlighted the strength of the Sino-Peruvian strategic partnership—bolstered by a large local ethnic Chinese, or tusan, population—as a foundation for mutually beneficial exchange. The embassy has actively engaged with the tusan community and has also worked to build relationships with local business leaders, academics, and politicians who often lend their influential voices to promote Beijing’s preferred narrative. Embassy communications frequently promoted strong trade links under the Belt and Road Initiative as well as growing overall cooperation. The embassy also highlighted bilateral landmarks such as the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2021.
- Strong influence in diaspora media: The expatriate and diaspora population, which includes a significant Taiwanese population, is historic and large, estimated to be around 300,000. A variety of local Chinese-language outlets cater to both communities. Several diaspora outlets cooperate closely with the Chinese embassy, and researchers have noted that their editorial lines have become more supportive of Beijing. Relations between the diaspora and Beijing have grown alongside the overall Sino-Peruvian relationship, and pro-Beijing narratives now dominate the diaspora media environment.
- No disinformation campaigns: There was no evidence of disinformation campaigns attributed to Chinese actors targeting or reaching news consumers in Peru during the coverage period. However, the Chinese embassy promoted misleading narratives to local audiences, including those aimed at countering US influence in the region or attempting to minimize Chinese actors’ culpability in local scandals related to the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and illegal fishing.
- Strong journalism and legal protections: Peru has a strong history of investigative journalism, and major outlets have reported critically on environmental and labor issues related to Chinese investment in major mining projects. Local journalists revealed Chinese vaccine makers’ practice of sending “courtesy doses” to Peruvian officials as part of a wider vaccine-diplomacy effort. Established legal frameworks provide for the monitoring and regulation of media organizations and limit foreign ownership, serving as a foundation for resilience to corrupting or coercive Chinese media influence.
- Media vulnerabilities: Researchers have noted the troubling rise of disinformation in Peru, particularly related to the pandemic and the 2021 elections. Government efforts to counter disinformation have been piecemeal and ineffective, and public trust in the media has diminished. Existing media regulations have failed to address a highly concentrated private media sector. The public media sector is highly centralized, risking journalistic pluralism. Powerful interests have wielded strategic lawsuits against public participation to punish critical reporting, particularly on controversial mining and environmental issues and on projects that have benefited from Chinese investment. According to local experts, most local coverage on China uncritically focuses on trade and investment. Local journalistic expertise on China is lacking, though private outlets use independent wire services to diversify their reporting.
The full Peru country report will be posted as soon as it becomes available.
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Global Freedom Score72 100 free