Journalists and the China story: Philippines

In the Philippines, Duterte’s government is promoting Chinese news narratives while the media remains highly skeptical of China’s presence.

Parker Song / POOL / AFP

Autocratic allies

China looms on the shores of the Philippines. Since Rodrigo Duterte took power in 2016, he has pivoted closer to Beijing and Russia. Beijing has promised what some Filipino media report as 45 billion US dollars of worth of investment, and in exchange Duterte has taken a softer line on Beijing on the South China Sea dispute, stating he means to avoid conflict with China.

Journalist union survey shows a different picture

A survey of 131 media workers conducted by the National Unions of Journalists of the Philippines found that Duterte’s government cooperative attitude to China was not reflected among the press and its coverage of China. A massive 50.7% of respondents had a negative view of China’s influence on the media while only 7% had a positive view.

When it came to China’s media power since the covid outbreak began, 41.53% of those polled said that the Philippines government had pushed Chinese-sourced news stories, 31.54% said that more news stories were emanating from Chinese sources and 27.96% though that there was more disinformation. In a sign that China’s attempts to propagate its narrative on covid sometimes fall flay, 44.6% of journalists believed that coverage of China had been more negative since the covid outbreak began, 19.2% considered it more positive and 20.8% noticed no change.

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