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Silent Contest

[Editor’s Note: The PLA National Defense University recently created an educational video called “较量无声” (Silent Contest) on the behind-the-scenes battle between China and the United States. [1] General Liu Yazhou, Political Commissar of the military institution and son-in-law of former president Li Xiannian, produced the work. It postulated that the Soviet Union’s collapse was due to the U.S. inciting a “peaceful revolution.” Using that viewpoint to examine the Sino-U.S. relationship, the video concluded that, while the U.S. has maintained an outward appearance of warmth and peaceful cooperation, beneath the surface it has always been trying to destroy China, using the same methods it applied to the Soviet Union.

To support its premise, the video further outlined five areas in which the U.S. is undermining China: political infiltration, cultural infiltration, public opinion and ideological infiltration, organizational infiltration, and political interference and social infiltration.

This video was produced as an educational document within the Party for specific groups such as the army and university classes. Somehow, in late October 2013, Silent Contest leaked out and circulated widely on the Internet. On October 31, 2013, it began disappearing from Chinese websites. [2] Nevertheless, a number of media have commented on it. [3]

The following is the translation of the Prelude and Part I of the video. Please note that the source of a number of quotes in English could not be identified. Unless the original English source is indicated in the end notes, the quotes in the video are translated from the Chinese text in the video. The translation of Part II will appear in a future issue.]


(The following subtitles from the video are displayed here one line at a time)

The process of China’s achieving a national renaissance

Will definitely involve engagement and a fight against the U.S.’ hegemonic system.

This is the contest of the century, regardless of people’s wishes.

Where did we come from? Why did we come here?

Where are we headed? How will we get there?

History has always been awaiting and recording our answers!

(End of Subtitles)

The 1980s in the 20th century was a decade in which the U.S. and the Western camp achieved significant results after adjusting their strategies. At the decade’s end, as a result of its long term strategy of “seeking soft hegemony and peaceful evolution,” which started after the Vietnam War, the U.S. finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

At the same time, the Soviet Union, a superpower which, in days past, brought fear to the hearts of its opponents, started demonstrating an irreversible decline. It was just like a patient who gradually felt the effects of a slow-working poison that he had ingested earlier. Although it still had the military power to destroy its opponents, or even the world, its economic and fiscal problems, its domestic social conflicts, and especially its political confusion and its wavering leadership, all resulted in this behemoth’s faltering.

(Video clip showing the chaos at the Supreme Soviet)

On August 15, 1989, the U.S.-based Christian Science Monitor stated boastfully, “The great dollar offense is proceeding successfully against the Soviet Union. The largest army, equipped with 30,000 nuclear warheads and the latest scientific and technological achievements, could not protect its territory from the dollar’s infiltration. It has eliminated half of Russia’s industries, defeated the communist ideology, and disintegrated Soviet society. The Soviet Union could no longer effectuate any resistance. Therefore, experts have predicted that ‘its demise is a matter of a couple of years.’ We should give this great plan the credit it deserves – Taft crafted it, Roosevelt polished it, and each subsequent president thoroughly executed it.” [4]

In November 1991, Margaret Thatcher could not withhold her excitement when delivering a public speech. She told her listeners, “I am responsibly telling you that, within a month, you will hear the news of the Soviet Union’s legal demise.” [5]

The competition for global hegemony between the U.S. and the Soviet Union turned out to be, precisely, the most important, most hard-to-come-by window of strategic opportunity for China.

At the end of the 1970s, after painful and deep reflection, the Chinese Communists, who emerged after the ten chaotic years of the Cultural Revolution, re-calibrated their forward direction. With a more mature, rational, and wise political vision, they gained an insightful understanding of the international situation as well as their own historic position. Because of the strategic demands for support that the U.S. and the Soviet Union sought from China as they fought for global hegemony, China promptly adjusted its domestic and international policies and resolutely made the important, epoch-making strategic decision: reform and opening up. This brought about the great historical turnaround that determined the fate of the country and the nation.

(Video clip of Deng Xiaoping stating the need of reform)

Given such a historic background, an impressive ten-year honeymoon period emerged between China and the U.S. On the surface, the ideological confrontation and any unresolved practical contradictions faded.

(Video clip of Deng Xiaoping discussing cooperation with the U.S.)

China and the U.S. appeared to have transformed themselves from opponents into partners, from confrontation to cooperation.

However, in reality, decision makers on both sides were very clear. The formation of this relationship, with regard to China, was an active strategic choice to open up an all new socialist path. The purpose was to change its security environment and its development environment and overcome blockade and isolation. With regard to the U.S., it was a decision to contract the battlefront passively so it could concentrate on the strategic goal of defeating its primary opponent in the U.S.-Soviet Union competition for hegemony.

With its own national interest in mind, it was the Chinese Communists’ choice to take advantage of the cooperation and fight in the world, so as to explore and establish China’s path and China’s future under the condition of these new times. It also began an all-new historical relationship between China and the U.S.

In over 200 years of interaction between the two countries, this was the first time China received a U.S.’ strategic request for cooperation and respect as a fully independent and equal partner. Beneath the surface of this cooperation, this change in the (Sino-U.S.) relationship also forebode the future contest between the two countries and the two systems.

Part I

On December 25, 1991, the flag that had flapped on the dome of the Kremlin for over 70 years slowly came down. The tragedy of the demise of the Soviet Union’s (communist) party and state was played out in a fashion that shocked the world.

A colossal party with close to 90 years of history and near 20 million members was declared to have dissolved.

(Video clips show a conversion between Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin and Yeltsin announcing an end to the Russian Communist Party’s activities.)

上集 (Silent Contest Part I)

This superpower, which had once intimidated the world, collapsed loudly, almost instantly. Yet, as a Western media described it at the time, the disintegration of this behemoth “was completed in the collective silence of the entire Soviet Union’s society, without even a single sigh.”

Looking back at history, we often find that people take this influential event that reshaped the world as the mark of the end of the Cold War. In fact, it happened after, not before, the end of the Cold War. This is a critical detail that one should not ignore or misinterpret. Whether it had a historic rationale, the Soviet Union’s disintegration was the result of the end of the Cold War, not its cause.

(Video clip showing Yeltsin announcing the adoption of the tricolor flag of the Tsar era as the Russian national flag)

The cold confrontations between the two camps of the U.S. and the Soviet Union had dominated the international landscape for over half a century. It gradually melted away under the guidance of Gorbachev’s “new thinking” and finally ended with the two sides shaking hands as the Soviet Union voluntarily gave up its “Cold War thinking.” However, after it happened, the “world commonwealth” and the historical gospel that Western politicians had predicted did not occur. The Soviet Union, which warmly extended the olive branch to end the Cold War, not only did not get the strategic return it anxiously anticipated; at a high national cost, it also lost its national foundation that several generations had accumulated over a 70 year period.

(Video clip showing prominent communist party members complaining about how they were treated after the party dissolved.)

(Video clip showing Vladimir Putin stating, “The disintegration of the Soviet Union was the most severe geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. For the Russian people, it was truly a tragedy.”)

This super historic farce has left many questions open to debate. It set back Russian society, caused the decline of the state, and left a mental wound that will be hard to heal.

(Video clip showing Yeltsin’s military firing cannons at parliament after he attained power.)

Today, the mist over this grand change that deeply impacted and altered the world has lifted. The winners boasting about their strategic achievements give one a hint of how it played out.

Former CIA employee Peter Schweizer plainly claimed in his book, Victory: The Reagan Administration’s Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union, “The collapse of the former Soviet Union was not the result of God’s favoring the United States. Rather it resulted from the policies that the Reagan administration carried out.” He revealed that the Reagan administration was never concerned about whether the former Soviet Union’s system had any vitality. Rather, the U.S.’ task was to reduce its vitality to zero.

Schweizer openly and arrogantly stated, “Discussing the collapse of the Soviet Union without acknowledging the role of the United States’ secret strategy was just like investigating a mysterious death case without taking murder into consideration.” He revealed in detail how the strategies and measures of the U.S.’s covert struggle gradually shook the Soviet leadership’s confidence in their own system and led, one step at a time, to its eventual disintegration.

History allows no conjecture. Yet studying historic conjectures helps us grasp reality and the future. From the countless conjectures regarding the tremendous changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, we can possibly reach this fundamental conclusion: Though one cannot claim with 100 percent certainty that the Soviet Union’s stable existence would have continued had Gorbachev’s not used his “new thinking” to change its ideology, one can for sure conclude that if a party gave up its political banner, gave up its ideals, gave up its ideology, stopped watching its enemy, and eventually confused itself; and if a government rejected its own improvement, stayed where it was instead of moving forward, believed in Western myths rather than the power of its own people, and as a result lost the foundation of its governance; then both that party and that government would definitely walk down a path of decline and demise.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union made the U.S. the ultimate winner of the near-half century long Cold War. At the same time, as a natural consequence, it made China the next opponent of the U.S. The Sino-U.S. relationship quickly reversed itself. The honeymoon relationship between China and the U.S., which had already ended after China’s June 4th turbulence in 1989, entered into an even chillier winter season.

The sudden, profound change in the international environment and China’s dramatic domestic turmoil once again forced China and the U.S. to make an important strategic decision.

(Video Clip showing Liu Yazhou, Commissar of the PLA National Defense University, commenting on the situation):

“As for the U.S., should it completely constrain China or transform China through engagement? This was the strategic choice it faced. Encouraged greatly by the recent successful peaceful evolution that had sabotaged the Soviet Union, its largest strategic opponent, and after carefully and prudently weighing its options, the U.S. elites boldly chose the latter. They held their position with confidence. Only by approaching, engaging, and accepting China and gradually guiding China into the international political and economic system could the U.S. be more forceful in dividing and splitting up China. This measure would claim the lowest strategic cost but provide the most effectiveness.”

In 1992, presidential candidate, Bill Clinton openly expressed this strategy: “One day (China) will go the way of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The United States must do what it can to encourage that process.” [6]

After entering the White House, Clinton publicly declared, “The U.S. will sabotage China’s communist system not by force, but with information, international exchanges, and other similar soft measures. Anyone in China who is against this will not be able to stop it. I think it is as unavoidable as the eventual collapse of the Berlin Wall.”

Exactly out of this consideration, the U.S. chose the all-new strategy guideline of “congagement” (engagement plus containment). The U.S. gradually removed the series of sanctions on China put in place after the June 4th turbulence and turned to implementing an all-out infiltration led by economic activities. On the one hand, they were convinced that the best strategic choice against its strategic opponent was to use progressive infiltration to shake its ruling foundation gradually and to use soft war methods to defeat it. On the other hand, they were more confident that the historic contest between socialism and capitalism had come to an end following the closure of the Cold War.

Renowned historian Francis Fukuyama made the bold prediction in his essay “The End of History?” that the liberal democracy in Western countries is likely “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution” and is “the final form of human government.” He further took it as the “end of history.” [7]

(Video Clip showing Li Shenming, Vice President of China’s Academy of Social Sciences,commenting on the Soviet Union):

“The Soviet Communist Party’s demise is the failure of fake Marxism; it is absolutely not the failure of communism. It happened because it broke off, departed from, and in the end betrayed the revolutionary principles (of Marxism) and (the principle of) ‘serving the people wholeheartedly.’ In its ideology, the party deviated from Marxism-Leninism; on the highest guiding principle, the party gave up communism. As a result, it broke off, departed from, and in the end betrayed the interests of the masses. It no longer represented the masses; therefore, the people and the masses no longer supported it.”

At this moment, China had to choose from two options (continuing the reform and open up policy or going back to the previous closed-door socialist path). Some ill social phenomena and problems after the reform and opening up, especially the political shockwaves brought by the June 4 turbulence, made some people doubt the path of reform and opening up.

Facing many domestic doubts about reform and opening up and the crisis of international socialism caused by the huge changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, where should China be heading at this moment?

(Video clip showing Deng Xiaoping stressing the importance of China staying on the path of reform and opening up.)

In his speeches during his tour of Southern China, Deng Xiaoping gave insightful, systematic answers, from the theoretic perspective, to many serious questions that had plagued and constrained people’s thinking for a long time. He further proposed the new national strategy to “grab the opportunity and develop ourselves, and that the key to development is the economy.” He solemnly declared that (China) should adhere to the principles and policies since the Third Plenary Session of the Party’s Eleventh National Congress in 1978; that the key was to adhere to the “one central task and two basic points” guideline [8]; that China should continue to proceed along the socialist path with Chinese characteristics; that no one can block China’s reform and opening up; and that the trend of reform cannot be altered.

This was another advancement in the Chinese communists’ understanding of their own development path and historic responsibilities. It was the second great, strategic decision the Chinese communists made regarding China’s future and fate under the new historic conditions.

It was with this background that China and the U.S., although having different strategic goals and strategic choices, went along with each other again. In reality, there was a round of economic competition and a political contest that went on under the table while they were cooperating on the surface. The two sides, with completely different intentions, raced ahead. The game of the century quietly lifted the curtain that was across the broad international political and economic stage.

Over 30 years have passed. Today, China displays the great miracle whose earth-shattering changes have marveled the world. China’s GDP has grown from 364.5 billion yuan (US$59.8 billion) prior to the reform and opening up to nearly 52 trillion yuan (US$8.5 trillion), a 142-fold increase. The average income of residents in urban areas has grown from 371 yuan (US$60.8) to 26,700 yuan (US$4,400). China’s foreign reserves have increased from US$167 million to US$3.31 trillion. China has become the second largest economy in the world and an important engine for the world’s economic growth. It took China 30 years to accomplish what Western developed countries took 300 years to accomplish. This once long-humiliated, weak, impoverished, ancient, oriental large country now beams a vitality that the world envies. It not only displays the utterly profound, utterly great creativity of the Chinese nation, but also displays fully the tremendous advantage and brilliant future of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Facing this unexpected change, even some Western elites have had to exclaim their heart-felt praise. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Defense and a leading representative of neoliberalism and soft power, stated in a 2008 interview, “If you looked at China’s great achievements since Deng Xiaoping’s reform and opening up, you would know it was an extraordinary 30 years. In the past 30 years China has brought a dazzling miracle to the world.”

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, a prominent thinker advising the U.S. government, commented during his 2009 visit to China, “This change was noteworthy, or even extraordinarily remarkable!”

Since the reform and opening up, China’s miraculous rapid development completely answered all sorts of questions once posed in history. As comrade Jiang Zemin pointed out, “The history since the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Party National Congress has eloquently attested that implementing the reform and opening up was the road that led to a strong country for socialist China. It was a historic decision which determined contemporary China’s fate.”

The great practice of China’s development and progress again validated eloquently that the two critical strategic choices that the Chinese communists resolutely made at the critical junctures of history were not only completely correct, but also had an extremely deep historic influence on the great cause of the renaissance of the Chinese nation.

However, when we look back at the past 30 years with a historic perspective, in this competition between China and the U.S. based on their differing strategic judgments, does China’s strategic success mean the complete failure of the U.S.’s strategic scheming? Has a clear winner emerged between China and the U.S. on the grand chessboard of strategic gaming and strategic competition? Or has the game itself faded in the progress of history? Is the U.S. truly happy to see a rapidly rising China in the East? Have China and the U.S. become genuine strategic partners who share parallel goals?

As early as 1989, Deng Xiaoping soberly pointed out, “The developed countries’ policy of abusing underdeveloped countries has not changed. China needs to secure its own position. Otherwise others will scheme against us. There are many people in the world who wish us well, but there are also many others who want to give us a hard time. We ourselves should be on guard and should never slack off. We must keep our own independence and autonomy, believe in no evil, and not be scared by any ghosts.

“The U.S. and some other countries in the West are conducting the strategy of peaceful evolution against socialist countries. There is also a saying in the U.S.: to fight a World War with no smoke from guns. We should be on guard. Capitalism’s ultimate intention is to defeat socialism. In the past, they used weapons, including atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs, but they ran into opposition from the peoples of the world. Now they resort to the peaceful evolution approach.”

Llewellyn Thompson, former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, pointed out openly, “The U.S.’ goal is to align its China policy with its long-term interests. In the past our goal was always to ‘tame’ the Chinese Communist Party. Our strategy of containment plus moral criticism has achieved very little success. Why don’t we change it to containment plus subversion?”

George W. Bush made it clearer in his second inaugural speech, “So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” [9] Consequently, planning revolutions without bloodshed and pushing through a “taming” and transformation across the globe became an important task in Bush’s second term.

(Video clip showing an office: This is a non-governmental organization with headquarters in New York. Its mission is to provide training and funding for street political activities in non-democratic countries. The head of the organization, Edel Young Karatnycky (埃德尔。杨。卡拉特米奇), [10] had complete confidence in their strategic plans. Pointing to a world map, he explained, “The green color denotes those countries that are democracies. The deep blue area is the non-democratic countries, where it is rather difficult to push for democratic reform. Hence it is the focus of our work. Where are these areas? They are China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.”)

In June 1997, the U.S. published the “Statement of Principles.” (Editor’s note: it was actually published by the think tank Project for the New American Century [11]) Signatories to this document included many heavy-weights from George W. Bush’s administration: Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, National Security Council Senior Director Elliott Abrams, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee Richard Perle, and even George W. Bush’s brother Jeb Bush.

This document clearly pointed out: The fundamental principles of the U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century are to establish a permanent, absolute superior position in the world, deter any potential competitors from developing bigger global or regional influence, and take preemptive actions to attack those countries that are suspected of having weapons of mass destruction.

The plan (the “Statement of Principles”) stated that China had become the greatest threat to the U.S. and that the U.S. should take a hard line position with military deterrence against China. They stressed paying special attention to the change in China’s regime. It actually meant that the U.S. made China its key objective in its secret war.

Robert Kagan, a leading neoconservative advocate stated it clearly, “Before the September 11 incident, the U.S. strategic circle had already targeted China. … (It) views China as the next big strategic challenge to the U.S. It was Clinton’s Pentagon that had formed this viewpoint.”

George W. Bush, after being elected President of the U.S., pointed out bluntly, “China is a competitor, not a strategic partner.” [12] Since then, the U.S. has officially acknowledged the view that China is a rival to the U.S.

Then, how should the fast moving China handle the risk beneath its feet, identify the unavoidable challenges that it must face, and avoid disaster while grasping the correct direction and the winning strategy? This is a big topic that China needs to answer in the course of realizing its great national renaissance.

(Video Clip showing comment by Qu Xing, President of the China Institute of International Studies):
“Whether China and the U.S. cooperate or fight, they are destined to be the main actors in the world. Therefore, China’s development and the U.S.’ development will restrict but also attract each other. We, who walk the road of history along with the U.S. must have a clear understanding of this relationship, a complete picture of the U.S.’ fundamental global strategy, and the U.S.’ plan against China. If we don’t, we cannot successfully walk along with (the U.S.), the primary global power of this century.”

“Knowing oneself as well as one’s enemy” is an ancient but forever-true strategic issue. So many happy or sad stories about relations between countries have been based on this principle and played out in humanity’s several thousand years of history. From the angle of history, the contest of the century between China and the U.S. must certainly start from here as well. This is also the key angle for people to analyze each of the two countries’ strategic ideas, preparation, capabilities, and advantages.

Reports from the U.S. have shown that the U.S.’ government, military, think tanks, and conglomerates have compiled numerous special reports that provide research, analyses, or predictions about China. There is almost one report per day. The topics range from politics, economics, and the military to culture, foreign diplomacy, and societal issues. Many of them are long-term research. They achieve an impressive depth in their results.

However, the American public has a very limited understanding of China’s real situation; many of them even lack basic knowledge.

In a 2008 survey conducted by a professional survey organization, 22 percent of the 2 million U.S. adults who were surveyed thought Singapore was the most famous city in China.

The Chinese exhibit the same situation. In 2010, the Chinese Academy of Social Science had a project team conduct a survey in eight cities in China. Nearly half of the people surveyed expressed that their knowledge of the U.S. was average. Only 34 percent thought theirs was “very good” or “relatively good.”

Actually, a majority of the people and cadres in our country know the basic facts about the conditions in the U.S. and about the recent Sino-U.S. relationship. However, different levels of government or social research institutes have not conducted any large scale or in depth research on the U.S. Only a few special offices have been following the U.S. on a long-term basis, but the content and scope of their research has been fairly limited. Under the current globalization theme, some “scholars” or “elites” label themselves as experts on the U.S. They either promote the Western value system or try to justify the U.S. political system and its economy as being reasonable, advanced, or even righteous. Thus, to a certain extent, they mislead the public.

The National Defense University conducted a special survey in 2010 on this issue. The design of the survey focused on an understanding of the nature of U.S. politics and also the Sino-U.S. strategic contest. The survey results showed that many high or mid-level cadres have a clear understanding of the U.S.’ hegemonic nature, but lack recognition of the nature of U.S. politics, the logic on which U.S. foreign policies are based, and the basic direction and strategies of its China policy and the threats behind their “hidden attack” against us. Many cadres’ general impression of the U.S. is similar to the public’s perception.

(Video Clip showing a comment by Qu Xing, President of China Institute of International Studies):
“Letting the public know more about the U.S. will make them yearn for U.S. society. That is very dangerous. At the government level, lacking precise information about the U.S. puts us in a disadvantageous position on this invisible battlefront (with the U.S.). When the critical moment comes, we may not even have time to respond (to the U.S. attack).”

The reality has shown that China has thirty years of reform and opening up and, in the wave of globalization, has successfully stepped into the 21st century. As it now faces a profoundly changed international environment and an opportunity for domestic societal transformation, system transformation, and concept evolution, there is an urgent need to focus on this strategic issue: careful evaluation of the current situation and knowing oneself as well as ones enemy.

China needs to have a deeper understanding of its strategic opponent and an increased alertness to and awareness of the strategic contest. It is not only an urgent priority for China to handle challenges to its international political, economic, and diplomatic struggles, but also an urgent priority to strengthen the party’s development and the government’s control, as well as to prevent infiltration and subversion.

China’s rise will inevitably face many tough tests. It will inevitably face challenges from hostile forces. In this “game of the century,” the contest might be silent, but the battle is fierce. It is this contest that will determine our nation’s fate.

[1] Youtube, “Silent Contest (by PLA National Defense University Information Management Center), Standard Definition.”
[2] New York Times Online, “Strident Video by Chinese Military Casts U.S. as Menace,” October 31, 2013,
[3] Global Times, “‘Silent Contest’ silenced,” November 17, 2013.
Global Post, “China’s military produces a bizarre, anti-American conspiracy film (VIDEO),” November 2, 2013.
Diplomat, “Does China Want a Cold War?” November 5, 2013.
Chinascope, Anti-America Documentary “Silent Contest” Portrays How the U.S. Infiltrates and Subverts China, November 5, 2013.
[4] The English quote on which the Christian Science Monitor article is based comes from the Chinese in the video. However, ChinaScope did not find a relevant article from the Table of Contents for the August 15, 1989 issue of the Christian Science Monitor, which can be found here:
[5] Although the direct quote could not be located, a similar quote can be found at docstoc, “Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the collapse of the Soviet Union,”
[6] On China, Henry Kissinger, page 461.
[7] The End of History? Francis Fukuyama.
[8] “One central task and two basic points:” a basic guiding line that the Chinese Communist Party adopted since 1987. The central task is economic development. Two basic points are the four cardinal principles (the socialist road, the people’s democratic dictatorship, the leading role of the Party, and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong thought) and the policy of reform and opening up.
[9] “President Bush’s Second Inaugural Address,”
[10] Chinascope is not able to identify the person whose name was translated in Chinese as 埃德尔。杨。卡拉特米奇 in the video, or the organization that he manages.
[11] Project for the New American Century (PNAC)
[12] “A Distinctly American Internationalism,” Speech by George W. Bush, delivered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA on November 19, 1999.