A Taiwanese newspaper, Liberty Times, reported that China attempted to influence the recent election by asking the local media to write “suggestive” news articles on various topics. Initially, the Chinese state-owned news broadcaster CCTV reached out to various local media outlets to find individuals to write the articles.
However, an individual from another Chinese state-owned news agency, CGTN, also reached out to someone at the Tuvalu Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) to find someone to write the articles.
Specifically, the email asked if a senior TBC reporter could write an 800-word opinion piece that focused “on Tuvalu election and it’s potential to cut ties with Taiwan.” The person offered to pay the writer $450 USD “tax free” and stated that the recipient could share the payment with the writer, but they rejected the proposal.
The attempts by both CCTV and CGTN to influence Tuvalu’s recent election illustrate how China conducts influence operations aboard. These influence operations are usually conducted by the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department (UFWD) through various means. One means the UFWD will use it to use Chinese state-owned media agencies, such as CCTV, China Daily, etc., to spread disinformation or propaganda aboard.
Furthermore, they will also use its international affiliates, such as CCTV’s CGTN or People’s Daily Global Times, to reach out to local media and commission articles, as illustrated in the email. The UFWD will also spread articles containing disinformation or propaganda through CGTN’s or China Daily’s regional offices if they are located in-country or region. This method is preferred by the UFWD since it would prevent any leaks (such as the email) from occurring and be kept ‘in house.’