"At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping enjoyed
prime real estate in the centre of Serbia’s capital, Belgrade: his face
plastered across a billboard with the words “Thank you brother Xi”.
The sign, courtesy of the pro-government tabloid Informer, was in response to
China sending COVID-19 medical supplies to Serbia. It joined a long list of
pro-China offerings of thanks from nations around the world during the pandemic
in the form of overt propaganda or more subtle media messages.
A new report being published today by the International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ), which I co-authored with Louisa Lim of the University of
Melbourne and Johan Lidberg of Monash University, has found Beijing’s global
image has benefited from the pandemic, despite its origin in the Chinese city
Over half of the 50 nations surveyed at the end of 2020 reported coverage of
China had become more positive in their national media since the onset of the
pandemic, while less than a quarter reported it had become increasingly
The change was most favourable in Europe, which scored 6.3 on a scale of one to
ten, where one is the most negative and ten is the most positive. China’s image
plummeted in North America, coming in at 3.5.
The overall increase in positivity coincided with an uptick in Chinese
outreach. Three-quarters of the journalists we surveyed said China had a
visible presence in their national media, compared to 64% in a previous survey
we conducted for IFJ in 2019."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics