Italy's main newswire ANSA ended its cooperation agreement with the Chinese state-controlled news agency Xinhua, another step in staying away from Beijing's propaganda.
Six months ago, the break between the two media institutions took place, and apparently, Russia's military operation in Ukraine (and China's propaganda around it) had a wider-than-imagined impact on them, local media reported citing the Italian newspaper Libero.
According to the local media, the main credit for the breakage of ANSA and Xinhua was Mario Draghi's government and at the cost of roughly half a million euros.
The contract between the two companies was signed in the year 2019 when Italy signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China to enter its Belt and Road Initiative. As a part of that MoU, two of Italy's most influential media outlets, State broadcaster RAI and ANSA, signed bilateral agreements with two Chinese counterparts, China Media Group (CMG) and Xinhua, respectively.
As per ANSA, the accord was signed on the margins of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Rome and envisages collaboration between the two agencies for the diffusion in Italy of an Italian-language Xinhua news service.
The agreements formalized and strengthened pre-existing ties. However, even though it increased China's ability to feed its content directly to Italian audiences, Beijing's strategy to promote a more favorable view of China does not seem to have paid off, as the Italian Institute on International Affairs noted.
Another leading Italian newswire, AGI, had already broken its agreement with the Chinese Communist Party in 2019, just before the pandemic took over the whole world. This led to the massive 2020 disinformation campaign aimed at Italian public opinion, according to local media.
At the time, Italian journalists reported intense courtship activity from Beijing due to the first Covid wave. This included being approached by Chinese officials and Chinese media offering content already packaged for the Italian market for the first time, as revealed in a 2021 research by the International Federation of Journalists.
The last Xinhua-issued content appeared on the ANSA website on June 21, 2022. The next day, the Italian helm of Xinhua News immediately passed to the Nova Agency, a minor newswire. (ANI)