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Tactics to Negate Western Media’s Negative Coverage of China’s Military

[Editor’s Note: Professor Chen Anran of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Nanjing Politics College analyzed the Western media’s negative coverage of the PLA. He believes that the Western media and their governments have rallied behind the U.S. to demonize China, “The U.S. dreamed of unifying the world with capitalism so it could dominate the world. The U.S. will never allow a strong, unified ‘Red’ China to appear in the East.”

The author offered counter measures to refute criticism of the Chinese military, including greater effort, increased spending, clever strategy and broader military exchanges.

The following is a translation of excerpts from the original article] [1]

Examples of the Western media’s negative reports on the PLA 

Since the 1990’s, the Western media have significantly intensified their negative coverage of China’s military forces. The number of reports, the cost for producing these reports, and their shocking bias and hostility are all unprecedented. These negative reports can be divided into a few categories:

First, they exaggerate the facts and dramatize the stories. For a long time, Western media’s coverage of China has been politically motivated. Exposure and criticism are their main style. In the words of a visiting scholar, Liu Kang, a fellow at the East Asia Research Center of Pennsylvania State University, “Today, not a single U.S. reporter has the courage to praise China for its great success in economic reform. When they write news reports on China, they write about human rights, dissidents, Tibetan separatist activities, prison-labor products, Taiwan Independence, and Hong Kong’s protests for freedom.” Just like the former director of the China State Council’s Information Office, Zhao Qizheng, said in 2003, “(The Western media) spend seven minutes showing road side garbage, and the next three minutes on the flowers.”

Second, they misinterpret China’s events, and deliberately mislead. Some Western media use all techniques to fabricate “news” and spread the “China’s threat” theory. When reporting on China’s effort to modernize its military, the Western media’s coverage is rather comprehensive, from advanced weaponry purchases to defense budget hikes, from disputes in the South China Sea to border conflicts with China’s neighbors, and from so-called “arms sales” to military exercises. Motivated by their imagination, the Western media use these stories to portray “China’s military ambitions.” In December 2006, when our country announced the successful launch of J -10 fighter planes and their shipment to the military, some Western media immediately initiated a new round of the “Chinese military threat” campaign.

Third, they distort the facts and deceive people. On March 14, 2008, a riot broke out in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. CNN, the BBC and other western media used expressions such as “military repression” and “martial law” to describe the event. Several German TV stations published a photo that said, “Chinese policeman arrests people.” But, ironically, this photo was cut from a CCTV video showing a Chinese policeman had just rescued a boy from the mob.

Fourth, they use apparently objective news to divert from the truth. On November 22, 2007, the Washington Times published an article “China’s Arsenal Spurs Warnings.” The article claimed, “China is developing space weapons,” and “China is developing its military power to combat the United States.” From this article, we can see that the Western media often show off their “objective and fair” news by presenting partial truths in isolated cases, but their ultimate goal is to cover up their hypocrisy. From time to time, they also praise China, but their words are insincere. The subtle message behind their compliments is actually disparagement. The Western media are good at praising the flaws and criticizing the merit, and their intention to misguide is pretty obvious. Their real motive is to influence their audience with misleading stories.

The Motivation for the Western media’s negative reports

Despite the Western media’s claim of “free press,” based on political and economic interests, their news has to serve the true intent of their “real boss.” The real purpose of their demonizing our military’s image is to please the politicians, fool the public, and isolate and split China.

This reflects the ideological confrontation of different social institutions. Ever since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the U.S. led Western world has never changed its strategy to “Westernize” and “divide” China. After the Cold War, the U.S. dreamed of unifying the world with capitalism so it could dominate the world. The U.S. will never allow a strong, unified “Red” China to appear in the East. As long as we adhere to socialism with Chinese characteristics, the Western media’s China bashing will not stop.

This also reflects differences in culture and values. Some Western capitalist countries have strong beliefs in Christianity. They are often insensitive to other countries’ unique situations, and they tend to unilaterally impose some human rights concepts upon others. Worse yet, they blow these culture differences out of proportion, and turn them into international tension.

The ultimate goal of the Western media is to serve their ruling class. They don’t really care about China’s economic modernization, democracy, openness, and personal liberty. Their priority is decided by the ruling class in their countries. Under that premise, the media are seeking to maximize their own rewards.

How to counter the Western media’s negative coverage 

(1) Increase our military propaganda to the outside

At present, we have established specific departments for external propaganda. They manage an organizational structure, issue press releases, and strategize on publicity warfare. Accordingly, military regiments and branches need to have their external propaganda departments. Designated leaders are held responsible for the propaganda work.

Take full advantages of our military’s superior quality in external propaganda. The Chinese army has always valued the importance of external publicity. During the anti-Japanese war, the Liberation War, the Counter-America-Assist-Korean War and other wars, the Chinese army has amassed rich experience on this mission. We should constantly link our internal and external propaganda, and institutionalize such a practice. That allows us to streamline our organization, talent, and equipment for propaganda, and to produce the optimal results.

(2) The art of external military propaganda

We must take full control of propaganda initiatives, but we should have patience, and not expect instant results. We should not try to change people’s viewpoints and values overnight. Our emphasis should be on reducing misunderstandings, prejudice and the secrecy surrounding the Chinese military. We should increase investment, especially in promoting innovative theories, improving management, and bolstering public trust. Gradually, we should be able to turn the tables.

Know our target audience; talk to their hearts. We must be clear who we are speaking to. Our propaganda strategy should be formed accordingly. In our work, we must learn to identify the key audience, and sort out the unique features of our audiences in different countries, living environments, education, culture, language and political systems. We also need to understand their different ethics, values, political standing and ideologies. We should be mindful of their individual tastes and effectively improve our military propaganda.

Go after the reward; avoid pitfalls; report positive news. Our military should be proactive, cover the big events, international missions and intriguing personalities. We should increase our propaganda’s quantity, quality, intensity and timing.

 (3) Broaden our military propaganda channels

Strengthen our propaganda’s mobility. Since China’s reform and opening up, our international standing has improved. We have embarked on friendly military exchanges with more than 100 countries. These exchanges have enhanced mutual trust and understanding. Our military should dispatch teams to international joint military exercises, exchange visits, and participate in the United Nations’ peacekeeping troops. These activities created mobile teams, and through their work, the PLA will create a good international image, deliver our military’s strong culture of morality, and display our military as “civilized, mighty, peaceful, and just.”

[1] People’s Daily, June 24, 2010
Chen Anran, “Military Reporter,” Number 4, 2010