The Forum on Global Chinese Media (世界华文传媒论坛) was conceived by Xia Chunping (夏春平), the vice-president and deputy editor of China News Service (CNS), in the fall of 2000 after he attended a gathering of around 30 overseas Chinese media in North America. According to a detailed account of the forum published in 2022, Xia wrote a research report after returning from the gathering and submitted it to CNS Editor-in-Chief Guo Zhaojin (郭招金), who was then in charge of daily work at the official wire service.
In an article about overseas Chinese media written in 2004, Peking University scholar Cheng Manli (程曼丽) called the Forum on Global Chinese Media the “home of private Chinese media” (民办华文传媒之家), suggesting the event had special importance to the broader global community of media professionals publishing in the Chinese language. An irony perhaps escaping Cheng was that the forum was conceived and supported entirely by a state-run news service serving a clear state agenda stemming from a system in which private media are anathema. All news media in China must be licensed and have a “sponsoring institution” (主管单位), which means they are connected to Party-state bodies that work to ensure their proper “guidance.” In 2021, the government issued even more explicit rules banning the participation of private investment in the news media.
Publicly available speeches, writings, and other materials concerning the Forum on Global Chinese Media clearly suggest that for China’s government, it is chiefly a forum to disseminate official Party-state frames and encourage overseas outlets to be more friendly and less critical of China’s interests. Much of this content is also published through Chinaqw.com, a site operated by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of China’s State Council, which is responsible for liaising with and influencing Chinese living outside of China.
Chinese government talking points regularly feature at Forum on Global Chinese Media events, which are attended by high-level media and propaganda officials. An article in May 2017 from Zhang Dawei (张大卫), the publisher of the Chinese-language Chicago China News and Digest (芝加哥华语论坛), and included in a collection from the 9th Forum on Global Chinese Media, talked about the need for overseas Chinese media to be more “disciplined,” and used language directly from the CCP playbook on media control:
With the advent of the new media era, the means and methods of communication are more diversified, fast and convenient, and the audience is wider than ever before, which brings unprecedented qualitative and quantitative changes to the dissemination of information. At this time, it is especially important for overseas Chinese media, while focusing more effectively on innovation and transformation, to do a good job of strict self-discipline and self-control, and to always adhere to positive and active guidance of public opinion, making this one of the most important purposes of the media.
An online list of participants attending the 10th Forum on Global Chinese Media in 2019, the last before the global pandemic, showed 427 journalists and editors in attendance.