Q: What do you call someone who speaks three languages?
Q: What do you call someone who speaks two languages?
Q. What do you call someone who speaks one language?
The PRC understands that to influence others you need to do so in their own language. While this may seem pretty simple, it’s not easy to do. The Economist magazine of June 16, 2018 ran an article “National shall preach Xi unto nation” (see: https://econ.st/2KdrUJ0, which is also the photo source).
The article recounts how the PRC “is spending billions on beefing up its foreign-language news media”. Meanwhile, last week I recounted how the Senate Armed Services Committee couldn’t understand why SOCOM’s humble Global Messaging Platform came under scrutiny. The meager millions spent on that program seem like chump change in comparison.
The article notes that the Voice of China is now broadcasting in 65 languages up about 50% from the 43 languages broadcasted a decade ago.
The China Global Television Network (CGTN) appears to be well sourced and ambitious. They’re targeting CNN and no doubt the BBC as well. The article noted that CGTN is planning on setting up a new broadcasting center in Chiswick, a mere 6.5 miles from London.
The mission of CGTN as given to them by Xi Jingping: “tell China stories well”.
It should be noted that this mission is also carried out by newspapers including the Hong Kong based China Daily. Print is matched to an online counterpart for example take, a look at: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/
Results seem to be mixed. It appears to be harder to get the “China story” across in ‘developed’ countries than elsewhere. According to the article, “A survey in 2016 of youth from 18 African countries found that, of those who had watched CGTN, 63% had liked the channel and only 14% had a negative view.”
The message is pretty clear, you need a ‘whole of government’ and a ‘whole lot of money’ if you want to play the global influence game.