You’ll never see CGTN come out and announce that it takes orders from the Communist Party of China, but it’s clear in the workplace who’s running the show. Party materials made specifically for CCTV (of which CGTN is a part) employees are littered throughout the newsroom.
I took some as souvenirs of my time working there.
There was also a stack of the book “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” put out by the Propaganda Department of the CPC Central Committee. (Chinese, revealingly, has only one word for “propaganda” and publicity”. Authorities a few years back finally realized it looks better to translate it in English using the less truthful version. I stick with the right one.)
I tried to take one, but the stack sat near the supervising producer who said I couldn’t. She awkwardly offered some kind of vague half-wording reason that let her avoid stating the obvious: because I am not Chinese. (She and the other managing producer also several times accused me of being in the CIA or US Marines in a way that was joking-not joking.) Uncharacteristically, I never did bother to swipe one later.
The stack, I should note, went mostly untouched for well over a year and probably sits there to this day. Most of the Chinese staff themselves do not give one f— about such things. They roll their eyes and laugh at the over-the-top nature of the propaganda, even more than me. Not all Chinese are flag-waving nationalists — not even the ones working for government TV — just as not all Americans are gun-waving lunatics.