The Chinese government is no fan of the New York Times—it has blocked the newspaper’s English and Chinese-language website since the end of 2012, along with the websites of many other foreign media who dare to write about the wealth of its officials and their families or offer up harsh criticism of the government’s policies or the country’s economy.
But Chinese companies, even state-run ones, appear to recognize the Times’ influence in the US. As president Xi Jinping enjoys his first state visit to the US, the paper carried five full-page ads in its national edition on Thursday (Sept. 24), all with the same theme: ”A warm welcome to President Xi Jinping of China on his state visit to the United States.”
The ad buyers are five Chinese companies and include a state liquor maker, a solar energy company, and a real estate developer among others. Each company purchased one full-page ad, decorating it with their company name, logo, and cheesy graphics. The real point, of course, is the welcome message for Xi.
Here’s the page taken by Kweichow Moutai, a state-owned company that produces China’s best known baijiu, or grain liquor, Moutai, a favorite among China’s corrupt officials:
This one is from the Guangzhou-based herbal tea maker Jiaduobao, which calls itself as “China’s Coca Cola” (The art design is more creative than Moutai’s):
The other three buyers are state Poly Real Estate Group, Sunshine Kaidi New Energy Group and Gree Electric.
So how much did this all cost?
That’s a good question. The New York Times ad rate kit is remarkably confusing (different types of advertisers are charged different rates and the price is still calculated by the column inch, acronyms abound). Xi’s supporters likely purchased full page “advocacy” ads (for political, religious or other causes) at the “weekday nationwide” rate of $175,204 for a full page. (Representatives of the paper have not replied to Quartz’s request for comment.)
Just weeks ahead of Xi’s US visit, a Chinese civil-servant-turned publisher also bought a full-page color ad published on Sept. 7 Times to publicize his publishing company’s new book about Xi. His ad also delivered “a warm welcome” to the president. The “blockbuster” rate the paper charges book publishers is $75,600.
All together, that means an estimated $951,620 was spent on Times advertisements to welcome Xi.