SAGE Journals

Is China exporting media censorship? China’s rise, media freedoms, and democracy

Posted on 2021-05-23 - 00:06

This study explores the relationship between China’s rise and media censorship around the world, in light of recent suggestions in the Western press and among China experts that Beijing is advancing a global censorship agenda. I argue that the Chinese government occasionally promotes censorship in foreign countries, because it wishes to reduce negative media coverage of China or to silence certain groups abroad (e.g. Falun Gong). More often, China’s relative apathy about speech and press freedoms in foreign countries facilitates censorship in countries that can rely on trade with Beijing. Countries that cannot rely on China are less willing to risk alienating Western powers by violating press freedoms at home. Regime type is an important determinant as to whether censorship is facilitated through intensive economic integration with China, as democracies may respond to China’s rise differently than authoritarian countries. Analysis of country-level panel data shows higher rates of media censorship in democratic countries that trade intensively with China.


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