Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In this recurring feature from the Axios China newsletter, I'll interview an expert about a Chinese Communist Party phrase to explain the news.

This week's phrase: "Borrowing a boat to go out on the ocean." (借船出海)

What it means: Placing Chinese Communist Party messaging and approved content into media outlets abroad, either overtly or covertly.

  • Beijing has vastly expanded the global footprint of its official state media organizations, but understands that overt propaganda has limited appeal and reach among many foreign audiences.
  • The party has thus sought to "borrow" established foreign media outlets as a "boat" for amplifying and legitimizing Beijing's message.

How it works: "In its simplest form, this involves paying for Chinese propaganda supplements to appear in dozens of respected international publications such as the Washington Post," Louisa Lim and Julia Bergin wrote in The Guardian.

  • "The strategy can also take more insidious forms, such as planting content from the state-run radio station, China Radio International (CRI), on to the airwaves of ostensibly independent broadcasters across the world, from Australia to Turkey."
  • It can also mean quietly buying up news outlets abroad, as the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV tried to do to two Los Angeles radio stations in 2013 — only to be blocked by the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

Why it matters: As Beijing seeks narrative dominance around the world, "borrowing a boat" is a key strategy it uses to influence skeptical audiences and to sidestep government scrutiny.

Go deeper: Census Bureau is paying Chinese state media to reach Americans

Go deeper

Updated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 32,994,213 — Total deaths: 996,682 — Total recoveries: 22,850,358Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 7,114,235 — Total deaths: 204,752 — Total recoveries: 2,766,280 — Total tests: 101,298,794Map.
  3. States: 3 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

Democrats demand Trump release his tax returns after NYT report

Compilation images of House Nancy Pelosi and President Trump. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democrats called on President Trump to disclose his tax returns following a New York Times report alleging he paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and nothing in 10 of the past 15 years.

Details: Trump said the report was "total fake news," that he's unable to release the returns as they're "under audit" by the IRS, "which does not treat me well." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement the report "provides further evidence of the clear need" for a House lawsuit to access the tax returns and "ensure the presidential audit program is functioning effectively, without improper influence."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale hospitalized

Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager for President Trump's re-election campaign, at Drake University in January in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Fort Lauderdale police arrived at former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale's home on Sunday after his wife called and said he was threatening to harm himself, Florida officials confirmed to Axios.

Details: Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw told Axios officers responded to a report of "an armed male attempting suicide" just before 4 p.m. local time.