Beijing [China], August 28 (ANI): Media are the voice of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at home and abroad, and the collaborations between Chinese and foreign media have been attracting more global attention for years, however the latest breakup of the Italian and Chinese media have raised eyebrows.
It is to be noted that Italy was the first European state to endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2019 when President Xi Jinping visited the country on a three-day trip.
A case study of the international relevance of the CCP information war is Italy. The country is important for two reasons — first, Italy is the European country where the Chinese propaganda war and colonization of media started earlier, and it was massive and systematic. Second, some Italian media decided this month to break free of Beijing’s propaganda shackles, even if not all problems were solved, as per the Bitter Winter.
Italy’s main newswire ANSA ended its cooperation agreement with the Chinese state-controlled news agency Xinhua, which was another step in staying away from Beijing’s propaganda.
Around six months ago, the break between the two media institutions took place, and apparently, Russia’s military operation in Ukraine (and China’s propaganda around it) had a wider-than-imagined impact on them, local media reported citing the Italian newspaper Libero.
According to the local media, the main credit for the breakage of ANSA and Xinhua was Mario Draghi’s government and at the cost of roughly half a million euros.
According to Italian journalist Andrea Morigi, its all started in 2010, when Class Editori, the publisher of the daily newspapers Milano Finanza and Italia Oggi and of some other periodicals, and the owner of TV channels Class Cnbc, Class Life, and Class TV Moda, signed a contract of collaboration with the Chinese state press agency Xinhua, the official mouthpiece of the CCP.
In 2014, one of the major Italian press agencies, AGI, signed a similar agreement with Xinhua, following one entered into in 2011 and preceding another one concluded in 2015. In March 2015, AGI also became a partner of the CCP’s mouthpiece Peoples’ Daily.
“AGI was among the first media outlets to partner with Chinese news groups. In 2008, together with Xinhua and China Radio International, they launched AGI China 24, a web branch of AGI devoted exclusively to news about China, which, however, lasted only a few years,” the 2021 IAI report noted, as per the magazine.
It should be remembered that AGI is a press agency owned by ENI, the Italian multinational oil and gas company created by the Italian state in 1953.
In 2016, ANSA, the leading Italian press agency owned by 36 leading news organizations in the country, signed a similar contract with Xinhua. IAI points out that in 2017 also another major Italian news agency, Adnkronos, “signed a content-sharing agreement with Xinhua.”
Mediaset Group, the largest private commercial broadcaster in Italy, founded by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi before he entered politics, started a collaboration as early as 2007 with China Media Group (CMG).
On March 20, 2019, the IAI report added, Il Sole 24 Ore, the most important Italian economic and financial daily newspaper, owned by the General Confederation of Italian Industry, signed an agreement with China’s Economic Daily, a newspaper founded in 1983, put under the control of the State Council of the PRC, and managed by the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the CCP, the Bitter Winter reported.
This agency, founded in 1921, is known as the Central Propaganda Department and is an internal division of the (CCP) in charge of information circulation and media censorship.
This collaboration between the CCP’s agencies and the Italian media brought the latter to feature two kinds of news from China: amenities and leisure-time information on a variety of subjects, and Communist Party propaganda on hotly debated topics such as the policy about the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, COVID-19, democracy in Hong Kong, and threats to Taiwan.
The seriousness of the colonization of Italian media by Chinese propaganda has been repeatedly denounced by the Italian media.
In May 2021, a report by the International Federation of Journalists revealed how China manipulated the media about COVID-19 and Xinjiang, pointing specifically at Italy as the worst case, as per Bitter Winter magezine.
In October 2021, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), a center for international studies based in Rome, published a second important report on the subject, ironically entitled “One Belt One Voice: Chinese Media in Italy.”
In November, Prague-based NGO Sinopsis published a third expose on the CCP infiltration in Italian politics and media. The Czech report was covered by the Italian press, chiefly by daily newspaper Libero, which, under the direction of Alessandro Sallusti since May 2021, became a significant anti-CCP bastion.
According to the magezine, an Italian journalist Andrea Morigi wrote in the May-June 2020 issue of the Italian periodical Cristianita, documented that all started in 2010, when Class Editori, the publisher of the daily newspapers Milano Finanza and Italia Oggi and of some other periodicals, and the owner of TV channels Class Cnbc, Class Life, and Class TV Moda, signed a contract of collaboration with the Chinese state press agency Xinhua, the official mouthpiece of the CCP.
In 2014, one of the major Italian press agencies, AGI, signed a similar agreement with Xinhua, following one entered into in 2011 and preceding anothera one concluded in 2015. In March 2015, AGI also became a partner of the CCP’s mouthpiece Peoples’ Daily.
Another leading Italian newswire, AGI, had already broken its agreement with the Chinese Communist Party in 2019, just before the pandemic took over the whole world. This led to the massive 2020 disinformation campaign aimed at Italian public opinion, according to local media.
At the time, Italian journalists reported intense courtship activity from Beijing due to the first Covid wave. This included being approached by Chinese officials and Chinese media offering content already packaged for the Italian market for the first time, as revealed in a 2021 research by the International Federation of Journalists.
The last Xinhua-issued content appeared on the ANSA website on June 21, 2022. The next day, the Italian helm of Xinhua News immediately passed to the Nova Agency, a minor newswire. (ANI)