China’s efforts to use state media as a means to increase its soft power around the world have raised concerns in many quarters. With much fanfare in late 2016, China relaunched its global television network, formerly known as China Central Television (CCTV), as a new global media brand, the China Global Television Network (CGTN). Despite extensive investment and active support from the highest levels of government, including President Xi Jinping, CGTN has had limited success in improving China’s international soft power standing. 

For many Western observers, it is CGTN’s association with the Chinese party-state which limits its ability to shape and influence the global discourse. However, it is CGTN’s internal organisational structure and culture which really inhibits its effectiveness as a soft power tool. China Global Television Network and other party-state media with similar structures and cultures will not be able to achieve President Xi’s goals without a radical, and extremely unlikely, overhaul.

Key points:

  • China relaunched its global television network in late 2016 as part of a major initiative to help shape positive global opinion
  • Despite heavy state investment China Global Television Network (CGTN) has failed to emerge as a significant soft power influencer in the global news sphere
  • Rather than the relationship with the Chinese party-state, it is CGTN’s organisational structure and culture which primarily limits its effectiveness
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