Introduction

Since coming to power in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has constructed a multi-layered system for censoring unwanted news and stifling opposing viewpoints within China.  Over the past two decades, this domestic apparatus has spawned mechanisms that extend information controls to media outlets based outside China.

This study provides a survey of this phenomenon, finding that over the past five years, its nature and scope have intensified and expanded.

In many cases, Chinese officials directly impede independent reporting by media based abroad. However, more prevalent–and often more effective–are methods of control that subtly induce self-censorship or inspire media owners, advertisers, and other international actors to take action on the CCP’s behalf.

These efforts–ranging from discreet to blatant–are successful in some cases, and encounter significant pushback in others, with journalists and activists at times scoring important victories.

But whatever the outcome of each contestation, the “China Factor” is palpably present, be it at the internationally renowned Washington Post, a local newspaper in Nepal, or a Chinese radio talk show in Los Angeles.

This report was authored by Freedom House researcher Sarah Cook and published by the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy on October 22, 2013.

Combining case studies, interviews, and original analysis, its chapters focus on six types of media outlets based outside mainland China that together reach news consumers worldwide: major international media; local outlets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; mainstream media in Hong Kong and Taiwan; exile Chinese outlets providing uncensored news to people in China; and media serving Chinese diaspora communities around the world.

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