China: an online service to “train” journalists in the regime’s propaganda, a new tool for brainwashing and coercion
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) alerts on a new threat to press freedom in China: a new smartphone service designed to "train" and even evaluate journalists on the regime's propaganda as well as to "help" them pass the test of loyalty to Chinese leader Xi Jinping has just been launched.
The All-China Journalists Association (ACJA), an organisation overseen by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), recently launched a smartphone service, available on the WeChat platform, designed to “train” media professionals in the "Marxist vision of journalism", a concept that defines the CCP doctrine on media.
The service introduced on 30 June features at least 220 courses, and is aimed at “helping” journalists pass the loyalty exam to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, which is compulsory to obtain or renew press credentials since 2019. It is able to track users’ progress and issue training certifications, and it could also be used by media outlets to conduct journalists’ annual reviews.
“Over the past decade, the Chinese regime has been conducting a true crusade against press freedom and the right to information, and this new smartphone service is yet another tool to brainwash and compel journalists to conform with state narratives. The international community should build up pressure on the Chinese regime to deter it from continuing its repressive policies and restore press freedom as enshrined in the country's
In 2019, the regime launched a smartphone propaganda app available for the general public called "Study Xi, strengthen the country", which was also later used to test journalists' loyalty to the regime and their knowledge of its narrative.
Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took power in 2012, he has further tightened control of the Chinese state media, which are expected to “reflect the Party’s will,” while initiating a violent clampdown on independent journalists and applying unprecedented censorship and surveillance online, as revealed in RSF’s report The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China.
To support journalists working on China issues, RSF launched the training.rsf.org website in 2021, which covers physical safety, digital security, mental health, and reporting best practices, alongside its ambitious capacity-building and assistance programme that has already benefited more than 500 journalists covering China.
China ranks 179th out of 180 in the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world's largest captor of journalists and press freedom defenders.