Time Magazine Fails to Disclose $700,000 Ad Campaign for Chinese State Media
The iconic American publication Time magazine failed to disclose that it was doing the bidding of a Chinese Communist Party-backed company as part of a six-figure advertising campaign.
According to a report from the Washington Free Beacon, Time ran advertisements for China Daily, a state-owned media company. The advertisement campaign, which earned the magazine $700,000, included dozens of articles that began running late last year. The articles were written by China Daily, but Time failed to disclose that China Daily is a state-owned newspaper that touts propaganda for the Chinese Communist Party.
Among the propaganda that Time published was a glowing report about a Chinese drone company, DJI, which was blacklisted by the Trump administration after it was revealed that DJI drones are used to surveil ethnic minority Uyghurs detained by the CCP in the Xinjiang region. The rave review of DJI was published by Time just one week after Trump announced that DJI had been blacklisted. The report accused the United States of “escalating” tensions between the two countries by targeting DJI and other Chinese companies such as WeChat and TikTok.
The latest story published by Time was a report by retired diplomat Chas Freeman that went live on April 26. Freeman is affiliated with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a “controversial think tank whose scholars have defended China from claims that it is committing genocide against Uyghurs,” according to the Free Beacon.
In total, Time ran 75 reports from China Daily for $700,000. That calculates out to roughly $9,300 per story.
This is not the first time that China Daily has run expensive advertisement campaigns in American newsrooms. The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and New York Times have all run China Daily’s content, but unlike Time, those news outlets all disclosed that they were running content from Chinese-owned publications.
The use of American newsrooms for Chinese government-backed content is a key tool for the soft power campaigns launched by the Chinese Communist Party to influence Americans. On one hand, running pro-China propaganda in an American publication gives it some credibility because it is appearing in a trusted outlet. On the other hand, American newspapers may think twice about criticizing the Chinese government because they do not want the advertising cash flow from organizations like China Daily to be cut off.
Either way, it is concerning for respected brands like Time Magazine to run propaganda for American consumers simply because the Chinese government is willing to write a big check.