Dr. Kiran Hassan, Research Associate Fellow at School of Advance Study, (London) and Coordinator Media Freedom Initiative at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies UK, was invited to deliver a talk on December 17, 2020.
Hassan began her talk by presenting her article on the new narrative of CPEC’s media and cultural influence. She highlighted the prominence of China in the region and how the Chinese state is formulating policies to integrate people with their culture through media, academic fellowships, and language institutions. Furthermore, she added , China is investing millions of dollars in technical support to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries including Pakistan. Surveillance systems as part of ‘smart cities’ in Pakistan are being built by companies such as Huawei and ZTE. The joint media collaborations between China and Pakistan held through different TV shows, advertisements, and publications have created an environment of cultural exchange among the public. The Chinese newspaper “Huashang” in Pakistan hit 26,000 readers in the first edition, representing a sign of media effectiveness and popularity. China has heavily invested in the technical field of Pakistan. Pakistan’s step towards digitization has strong Chinese support. Zong, the second-largest data providing company, is owned by China. Chinese-owned Social Media Networks (SNS) (such as TikTok and WeChat) are widely used in Pakistan. The session noted that the 2019 CPEC media forum focused on combating fake news and tales affecting the CPEC. In 2018, Pakistan and China agreed to collaborate in areas like culture, art, research, press, and publication. She pointed out; Chinese are opening five Confucius Institutes in Pakistan. People are studying the Chinese language to improve their living conditions and job chances, while social media sites are supporting CPEC. People are learning the Chinese language to improve their living conditions and job chances, while social media sites constantly appraise CPEC. China is presenting itself positively through electronic and print media. Even China and Islam are very comfortable in the cultural exchange, contrary to the western discourse. This is evidenced through the number of marriages taking place between Chinese and Pakistani couples. Dr. Kiran’s research highlighted the significant ways in which cultural exchanges are taking place between China and Pakistan, indicating avenues for further exchange between the two countries. Event covered by Mansoor Ahmad