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

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
26 mins ago - Economy & Business

Brookings fellow predicts reparations could happen in next 10 years

Thanks to growing momentum and changing attitudes among Americans, Brookings Institution fellow Andre Perry predicts that within 10 years the U.S. will provide some form of reparations to Black people.

What we're hearing: "What's happening in the streets today is indicative of the attitude change that is occurring in America," Perry, a scholar-in-residence at American University and author, said during our interview for "Axios on HBO."

26 mins ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans won't take Trump's word on vaccine

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Note: Margin of error for the total sample is ±3.2%; Chart: Axios Visuals

Barely two in 10 Americans would take a first-generation coronavirus vaccine if President Trump told them it was safe — one of several new measures of his sinking credibility in the latest wave of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Details: Given eight scenarios and asked how likely they were to try the vaccine in each case, respondents said they'd be most inclined if their doctor vouched for its safety (62%), followed by insurance covering the full cost (56%) or the FDA saying it's safe (54%).

NYT's Trump tax returns exposé explodes on social media

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The New York Times' bombshell tax investigation has become one of the most viral investigative news stories on social media during the Trump era, according to data from NewsWhip.

Why it matters: The years-long anticipation of the release of President Trump's tax returns has hit a nerve among Americans, many of whom have been waiting to see whether the returns reinforce rumors of the president's flimsy financial record.