What needs to happen is more Chinese influence in foreign media. Not in a corrupt way (which would make things even worse), but rather as competition to other providers. CCTV is great but really very weak internationally as far as I know. There are 3 pieces of advice I have for China regarding this (just my opinions):
1) More open debate about issues, bring the politicians to talk about their decisions. Western people see the lack of this as secrecy and malicious intentions. When Chinese government spokespeople say ‘refuses to acknowledge’, ‘refuses to discuss’, ‘deny this’, ‘deny that’, is is easy for the western media to use the statements in a bad way.
2) Less displays, performances and exercises (military or otherwise). They are good for convincing other Chinese about things, as well as people with special interestes in the particular areas, but it certainly doesn’t impact the average westerner’s impression of China. Indeed, when we see the effort put into this kind of thing, it actually makes us uneasy about the true intentions. After all, acting is acting.
3) When foreign journalists do film something in China, don’t send police to arrest them or block the camera lense. All this gets filmed too. Obviously, the more you do this, the more the Westerners will believe something secretive/negative is going on, whether or not there actually is something going on. I think this is the biggest mistake made by police etc.
Maybe if some things like that change, opinion about China in the world will evolve, but for now I think there is no way for Chinese media to compete internationally. One final thing, it is good for chinese people and pro-china westerners like myself to tell people about errors in the media coverage of events and spread the truth; but the absolute worst thing a group of chinese people could do is argue with a westerner using exactly the same patriotic logic or comparison as each other (jumping on a bandwagon). In order to convince foreigners that we are not brainwashed, in fact you have to disagree a lot more often. Americans and europeans often have the same attitude, but I think Chinese in general do differ less in their political ideas, so it ends up being more important.
At the moment the western world has a larger sphere of influence and a larger sphere of propaganda. It is easier for them to sell a story about how bad China is, because that is now so ingrained into people’s minds that it is along the lines of what they would expect to/want to hear (and therefore sells). As China’s sphere of influence grows it is important for China not to avoid competition in this area.