The Economist quietly drops Advertisement Features paid by Chinese state media

Campaign win
Campaign win
Free Tibet and the International Tibet Network celebrate a campaign win
11th August 2020

Free Tibet and the International Tibet Network celebrate a campaign win.


The Economist newspaper appears to have quietly dropped regular advertisement features which were previously paid for by Chinese state media. 

This move from the Economist follows on from Free Tibet’s campaign to stop the spread of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda. 

Free Tibet’s campaign, launched in April this year, focused on the Economist and the Wall Street Journalcalling for them to drop their paid content from Chinese state media. Both petitions have since amassed over 2,300 signatures each. 

The Economist has also previously received paid content from a Chinese state-backed paper, Beijing Review. This content was branded “China Focus” and has featured in the Economist’s print editions since at least 2018. Whilst it is unclear, as of yet, whether this print edition content will continue, such content has been notably absent from recent editions of the Economist. This has led Tibet campaigners and investigative journalists to speculate that the Economist and Beijing Review have parted ways.

Previous content from the Economist’s “China Focus” includes an advertorial praising President Xi Jinping’s leadership in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as a piece attacking Western news outlets and defending China’s response to the pandemic. 

The Economist follows the suit of several other newspapers, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, who have also dropped Chinese state-backed content from their print and online editions. The Telegraph also did the same after being targeted by Free Tibet.

The CCP has been able to successfully spread its propaganda globally by running articles provided by Chinese state media in international newspapers. These are as part of deals, some worth up to millions of dollars. Paid advertisements and content have been produced by China Daily and Beijing Review, both outlets controlled by the CCP, in newspapers in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, the USA, to name a few. 

Content by the Beijing Review includes an article, “Training centres in Xinjiang offer hope”, which discusses the benefits of reeducation camps where an estimated one to two million Uyghurs have been forcefully detained in. 

The Beijing Review also regularly runs propaganda on Tibet, claiming it has undergone democratic reform and seen increased economic opportunities under CCP rule.

Campaigns and Communications Manager at Free Tibet, John Jones, hailed the victory, saying: 

“Chinese state media outlets like Beijing Review and China Daily have been spewing CCP propaganda for decades. As China robs Tibetans and Uyghurs of their land and their rights and muzzles their attempts to communicate with the wider world, these propaganda rags fill up the space, perpetuating lies that the invasion of Tibet has brought about democracy or that the internment of Uyghurs in concentration camps is a way of helping them. International media outlets should not be enabling these state propaganda outlets, they should be exposing them.  

“Fortunately the tide is turning. Our campaigning is getting results. The Telegraph has scrapped its CCP propaganda, the Economist has scrapped its CCP propaganda, now, as we celebrate a massive victory for Tibet, we turn our attention to other newspapers like the Wall Street Journal. To them, we say: stand with the victims, tell the truth, scrap the propaganda”.

Article announcing the scrapping of China propaganda in The Economist
Article announcing the scrapping of China propaganda in The Economist