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China's Latest Export: Journalists

China’s state-owned news agencies are beefing up U.S. coverage
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney talks to journalists on board his campaign plane in September 2012
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney talks to journalists on board his campaign plane in September 2012Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Since Wang Guan arrived in the U.S. from Beijing in February, the correspondent for state-owned China Central Television embedded with the U.S. Navy and broadcast live from the Republican and Democratic conventions. “It’s exciting … to observe democracy in action,” he says.

Guan is one of 100 journalists who CCTV has put to work in Washington, D.C., this year. He and a few dozen colleagues send dispatches in Mandarin to 42 channels back home, while 60 others produce business and news-magazine shows for a new English-language channel. Dubbed CCTV America, it airs on cable and satellite and is meant to burnish China’s image in the U.S. “There’s an overall sense in government circles that China is not always given a fair shake in Western media coverage,” says Jim Laurie, a veteran of ABC and NBC who consults for CCTV. “They see opportunities at a time when the U.S. media is contracting.” CCTV officials declined to be interviewed.