China 'builds bridges' with propaganda TV channel

New service to promote 'communist views' in Middle East.
A file photo of CCTV's headquarters in Beijing.
A file photo of CCTV's headquarters in Beijing.

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China has launched an international Arabic-language television channel as part of an ambitious programme to promote the communist country's views abroad.

State-run China Central Television (CCTV) said the new service would broadcast news, entertainment and education programmes 24 hours a day to a potential audience of about 300 million people in 22 countries.

CCTV vice-president Zhang Changming said in a statement the channel "would serve as an important bridge to strengthen communication and understanding between China and the Arab countries".

The network, which already broadcasts in English, French and Spanish, also has plans for a Russian-language service.

The satellite channel can be received across the Middle East, North Africa and in the Asia-Pacific region, the statement said.

The move is part of an ambitious programme of international expansion by the state-controlled media to promote the image of China abroad. Xinhua news agency, which already reports from more than 100 countries and territories, also plans to open more foreign bureaux.

"We must increase our broadcasting capacity to positively influence international public opinion and to give a good image of our nation," propaganda chief Wang Chen declared in January, as quoted by Xinhua.

Hong Kong daily the South China Morning Post has reported that Beijing was prepared to put 45 billion yuan (6.6 billion dollars) into the development of its media, an amount which could not be confirmed by Chinese sources.

Beijing has complained about "biased" coverage of China by foreign media but strictly controls its own media.

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