China’s foreign ministry has blasted the United States as the actual “nation of lies” on Saturday in response to a State Department study that said Beijing spent billions of dollars per year on information manipulation.
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department released a report detailing China’s efforts to influence international media through a combination of censorship, data collecting, and the clandestine purchase of foreign news outlets.
Produced in response to a congressional requirement to describe state information manipulation, the report found that Beijing had suffered “major setbacks” when targeting democratic countries, due to pushback from local media and civil society.
The Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement calling the story “false information” for its omission of relevant data.
According to the Chinese ministry, the U.S. State Department bureaus responsible for the report “were the source of false information and the command post of ‘cognitive warfare.'”
Further, “facts have repeatedly proven that the United States is the true ’empire of lies,'” it said.
This study from the United States comes at a time of heightened criticism around Chinese efforts in recent years to expand the reach of its state-controlled media abroad. Beijing is making an effort to counter what it sees as unfairly bad media coverage of China around the world.
China’s America Problem
More and more Chinese see the United States as a tyrant that constantly insults their dignity, downplays their achievements, violates their sovereignty, and works to slow the expansion of China’s global power.
The American government’s perceived superiority, arrogance, “obsession” with liberty and democracy, and, most of all, missionary fervor to overthrow the communist dictatorship in China have all contributed to stoking feelings ranging from outrage to wrath.
In an effort to deflect international criticism, many in Washington have blamed the Chinese government of stoking anti-American sentiment at home. While the Chinese government certainly has a hand in shaping public opinion about the United States through its control of the country’s media, from TV to radio to newspapers to the internet, this view of America is hardly a product of Beijing.
They have real-world origins, being the result of ongoing tensions between China and the United States, a rise in Chinese nationalism, and other developments in Chinese society after 1989.
The ongoing, difficult battles between the Chinese government and the United States since 1989 have formed the public’s anti-American mindset. Many Chinese believe the United States intends to coerce China’s internal developments or reduce China’s worldwide influence due to disagreements in a wide variety of policy areas, including trade, human rights, weapons proliferation, and Taiwan.
Even while the Chinese government bears the brunt of the blame for stoking anti-American sentiment in the country, the average Chinese citizen dutifully toes the party line even when presented with counterarguments.
Even “Americanized” Chinese who have been exposed to American business training, American media sources, American education, and other parts of the American way of life hold negative views of the United States. Many English-speaking, ambitious, sophisticated, young Chinese professionals, entrepreneurs, and college students, although having seen American impacts firsthand, find the U.S. government and U.S. rhetoric repugnant.
Despite having limited access to state-controlled media, Chinese students in the United States continue to parrot official government talking points. Students who doubt the dissidents’ patriotism and criticise their character because they have challenged the authority of the Chinese communist regime are a common source of antagonism for the dissidents living in exile in the United States.
New York-based Human Rights in China Executive Director Xiao Qiang said that overseas Chinese students have called his work to hold China accountable for its persecution “harmful” to the Chinese people and “disloyal” to the Chinese nation.
Similarly, Chinese citizens who have access to Western media outlets that are critical of the Chinese government may not always embrace these outlets. Voice of America (VOA) distributes news and commentary into China from the United States, and a presenter for VOA says that the network has gotten countless reactions from Chinese listeners accusing it of “anti-China” bias in recent years.
A public relations manager in southern China referred to CNN as a “vehicle of American propaganda” despite the fact that the network is becoming increasingly well-known among Chinese business experts. It appears that Chinese citizens are just as responsible for shaping their own negative views of the United States as the state media.
As the legitimacy of the Chinese government rose, so did rising levels of Chinese nationalism and a pessimistic view of the United States. In part, this is the consequence of the government’s efforts to foster a sense of optimism about the future of China in light of the fact that the country’s official communist ideology is being eroded by market capitalism over the previous two decades.
Despite what many Americans may assume, a large portion of Chinese citizens, especially those who have benefited from the country’s changes over the past two decades, express satisfaction with and even pride in their government. Tracy Li believes China’s government are making strides to improve people’s quality of life by addressing these issues, and she agrees. We don’t care if the Americans don’t like it, and many Chinese do.
While many Americans believe the Chinese government has avoided political reforms in favour of economic ones, Minxin Pei of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace considers this belief a “prevailing myth.”
Although the political shifts made were not democratically progressive, they were crucial in establishing a more progressive economy and accountable governance.