China's Soft Power
Radio Beijing in the Middle East

China’s Arabic-language television and radio outreach efforts don’t compare to America’s in traditional measures like audience size. But sometimes how many people are tuning in isn’t as important as who is tuning in.

Published on: January 20, 2014
Middle East specialist Joseph Braude is the author, most recently, of The Honored Dead: A Story of Friendship, Murder, and the Search for Truth in the Arab World (Random House - Spiegel & Grau, 2011), and is now at work on a book about Arabic media. He hosts a weekly broadcast on Moroccan radio, appears frequently on Arabic satellite television, and hosts the English-language podcast, “Eye on Arabia.” He tweets @josephbraude.
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  • InklingBooks

    I certainly don’t want to defend China’s repressive government, particularly its political and religious persecution. But I do hope that any broadcasting it does would be devoid of the anti-Semitic madness that’s long been a part of European political thinking and that, disguised as anti-Israel dogmas, is becoming more and more deeply embedded in leftist thinking around the world.

    In short, China’s Middle-eastern broadcasting could do the world a big favor if it simply describes a world that doesn’t have Jews lurking behind everything that happens or that sees Israel and the central cause of all the troubles of the Middle-east. The ideas of Confucius might even be a good counter to the paranoia and deception that tends to dominate Arab thinking.

    One additional note. Growing up in the 1960s, I was involved in shortwave listening before becoming a radio amateur. Then, the BBC was a global powerhouse, heard loud and clear everywhere on the planet.

    The BBC was so aggressive at reaching as large an audience as possible, that it cheated. Parts of the 40-meter (7 MHz) band) are assigned to radio amateurs in the Western hemisphere but to SW broadcasting in the rest of the world. The BBC, eager to reach an audience in North and South American, broadcast on 40 meters, skirting the lines of legality by pretending it was broadcasting to some tiny islands in the western Pacific. Hams, limited to 1,000 watts were not happy to be competing with a BBC broadcasting with perhaps 100,000 watts.

    Contrast that to today and a world where the BBC has no broadcasts at all to North or South America. Their excuse is that most of those who’d want to listen can find them on the Internet. I see a different factor at play. The contrast between Chinese Radio and the BBC is a good measure of the confidence each has in the value of its particular culture.

    –Michael W. Perry, Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II

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