It found that executives from 12 media outlets have been members of organisations controlled by the United Front Work Department, Beijing’s foremost overseas infiltration organ. At the same time, four outlets were directly owned or received financial support from the CCP.
One of the largest online Chinese language media is Sydney Today, who had an alleged 670,000 followers in 2019.
The co-founder of Sydney Today, Stan Chen was also listed as vice-president of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC) until 2018.
Sydney Today has also actively censored and removed content, particularly around foreign interference investigations by Australian security agencies, and Falun Gong, the meditation practice persecuted by the CCP.
The owners of ACB News, Queensland’s VAC International Media, and Melbourne's Australia Pacific Media Group, and Ostar Media were found to have business interests in China, which may provide a lever for the CCP to influence their editorial leanings.
At the most recent event in 2019, attendees were encouraged to “tell China’s story well” and promote cooperation between the CCP and the world.
Australia regularly sends one of the largest delegations to the event, after the United States and Canada. Since 2013, 92 Australian-based Chinese media outlets have dispatched delegates to the forum, including public broadcasters ABC and SBS.
The advent of Chinese social media app WeChat meanwhile has also accelerated the influence and spread of pro-Beijing media.
Content on WeChat is directly censored by Beijing, with posts deemed sensitive or disadvantageous to the CCP often removed.
Only two of the 24 media outlets (The Epoch Times Chinese and Vision Times Media) did not have active WeChat channels.