A new three-part TV series on China by The Discovery Channel, co-funded and edited by the Chinese government, was announced in Beijing earlier this week.
Felicia Sonmez, in an entry for Agence France-Presse, said that the documentary titled “How China Works” was the latest effort by the Chinese government to project its soft power abroad.
In the words of presenter Danny Forster, the show will bring “cameras and questions to places outsiders are rarely permitted, to investigate the aspirations of the world’s fastest-growing middle class.”
The documentary, created with the “support and guidance” of The State Council Information Office (SCIO), the propaganda arm of China’s Politburo, is part of a three-year deal in which Discovery will air an hour of Beijing-approved, China-themed programming each week.
Enrique Martinez, acting president of Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, said that the programme was a collaboration between SCIO and Discovery. “Obviously, we have to pass certain filters editorially within our organisation as well as from a regulatory standpoint,” he said.
When asked whether the documentary amounted to nothing more than an “advertorial” funded by the Chinese government, he replied: “I’d say just watch the shows. They’re incredible, insightful, and just extremely deep analyses of what is transpiring.”
Jeremy Goldkorn, founder of Beijing-based Danwei which tracks Chinese media and internet, said that the SCIO’s role was “to present the Chinese government point of view.”
“What’s quite funny is that Discovery Channel is saying it’s a documentary,” he said. “If Discovery Channel think there’s no politics involved in this, they are kidding themselves.”
For those readers who just can’t wait for their latest dose of Chinese government programming, we recommend you watch their latest three-minute promotional video “The CPC is with you along with way” here.
By Dominic Jackson