Daily Telegraph stops publishing paid-for Chinese propaganda

China Daily 2012. Credit Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images
China Daily 2012. Credit Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images
China Daily 2012. Credit Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images
15th April 2020

Chinese state media propaganda removed from The Telegraph website in recent days.

The Daily Telegraph has stopped publishing paid-for propaganda presented to its readers on behalf of Chinese state media, as scrutiny grows over Beijing’s influence in western language media, The Guardian has reported.

The China Watch section, written by Chinese state journalists and funded by government controlled news outlet China Daily, has appeared in The Telegraph for over a decade. It has presented a positive view of China in both print and digital format.

Some of the material has also mentioned or focused on Tibet, Free Tibet has found. 

The content has been removed from The Telegraph’s website in recent days alongside another section which reproduced information from the official media outlet of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s People’s Daily Online.

The Telegraph has deleted articles during the removal with headlines including “ Why are some framing China’s heroic efforts to stop coronavirus as inhumane?”, “Traditional Chinese medicine ‘helps fight coronavirus’”, and “Coronavirus outbreak is not an opportunity to score points against China,” The Guardian reported. 

The Telegraph has not commented on why the deal stopped. One report said it was paid around £750,000 a year to publish the China Daily sections. The news comes in the midst of a fall in newspaper sales and a decline in the advertising market during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Telegraph has been critical of China during the coronavirus crisis. China correspondent Sophia Yan recently reported doubts about official claims on numbers who have died from coronavirus and said the figure could be higher then authorities have admitted.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has run a similar China Watch section to The Telegraph but this has not been updated for weeks and it is unclear if the deal between the WSJ and the Chinese state media initiative has ended.

The New York Times has run a similar section in the past but confirmed it stopped publishing the material earlier this year.  The Washington Post has previously published China Watch information but said they have not run any since last year. 

All three US news outlets recently had Chinese based reporters removed from the country. 

The Economist still has an “advertisement feature” section called the Beijing review.

Deals like the one between The Telegraph and China Watch have been made by newspapers across the world including in France, Germany and Australia. 

Free Tibet has contacted the Telegraph but it has not yet replied to comment. 

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