China, the most populated country in the world has been experiencing a backlash from some western countries over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a lack of trust with the official numbers that have come out of the country, and there has also been plenty of criticism over the country’s alleged withdrawal of information during the initial stages of the outbreak.
All of this means that China has been undergoing a big PR crisis, and in front of the entire world, no less.
What Has China Been Doing?
The main goal of China and its officials during this time has been to repair the global reputation of the country, no matter the cost. This includes efforts worldwide as well as domestically.
The country has been using plenty of tools that have been very successful throughout the years with the people in China, and at first, they decided to adopt those same tools for international use. However, while the Chinese officials have been calling this move as ‘publicity’, the rest of the world has realized that it was all traditional propaganda.
The current PR campaign of the Chinese Communist Party is being executed through the earned and traditionally owned media. What this means, domestically speaking, was to try and influence the people and the messages that were being shared throughout the country. Furthermore, with China, this type of influence takes many different forms, from regular interaction with media outlets and journalists to discussing which point of view is the right one.
Although, historically speaking, this is not a unique effort as both governments, as well as brands all over the world, have been trying to gently push reporters and news outlets towards what they believe is the “right” direction. This means that all over the world, journalists, along with publications, that are completely objective in their reporting are somewhat of a rarity.
Further Decline in Public Perception
However, things took a turn for the worse with China, when the country banned 13 China-based journalists from three different major U.S. outlets: The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. This was a move that further highlighted potential issues surrounding whether the country had more to hide regarding the initial outbreak of COVID-19.
The country has reportedly managed to successfully overcome the pandemic, in a rather short amount of time, due to the strict regulations and measures. Unfortunately, due to the initial distrust that the world has had, as well as their failed efforts to improve their global image, this has led to many countries wondering whether the information they’ve shared – and have been sharing in recent times – was accurate in the first place.
Furthermore, western countries are also questioning whether the aid that China has been giving to European countries has goodwill behind it, or is simply another attempt to curb the world’s overall image toward the country – and whether countries should be taking their aid in the first place.