EU deal cements China’s advantage in media war

Beijing has closed its market to European media investors, while EU keeps doors open to Chinese propagandists.

Despite growing concerns about Chinese disinformation and propaganda in Europe, the EU’s trade deal with Beijing makes no attempt to rectify the stark differences in access rights between European and Chinese investors when it comes to media and news operations.

Texts of the EU’s investment deal with China were published on Friday and the documents show Beijing has used the opportunity to set in stone draconian restrictions on foreign investment in news media and the entertainment industry, even specifying that foreign programs cannot be shown between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. without special approval and that only Chinese cartoons can be shown between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.

While European leaders often insist that the deal should achieve “reciprocity” with China, the European Commission conspicuously failed to introduce this logic in the all-important news and information sector. The texts of the accord struck in December show that European investors are boxed out of Chinese media while Chinese investors are largely free to buy up news services, broadcasters, cinemas and film-making ventures in the EU.

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