Manufacturing consent for the containment and encirclement of China

October 18, 2022 Carlos Martinez

People attend a culture and tourism festival themed on Dolan and Qiuci culture in Awat County of Aksu Prefecture, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region, Oct. 25, 2019. Photo: Xinhua

If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. (Malcolm X)

The Western media is waging a systematic and ferocious propaganda war against China. In the court of Western public opinion, China stands accused of an array of terrifying crimes: conducting a genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang; wiping out democracy in Hong Kong; militarizing the South China Sea; attempting to impose colonial control over Taiwan; carrying out a land grab in Africa; preventing Tibetans and Inner Mongolians from speaking their languages; spying on the good peoples of the democratic world; and more.

Australian scholar Roland Boer has characterized these accusations as “atrocity propaganda – an old anti-communist and indeed anti-anyone-who-does-not-toe-the-Western-line approach that tries to manufacture a certain image for popular consumption.” Boer observes that this propaganda serves to create an impression of China as a brutal authoritarian dystopia which “can only be a fiction for anyone who actually spends some time in China, let alone lives there.”[1]

It’s not difficult to understand why China would be subjected to this sort of elaborate disinformation campaign. This media offensive is part of the imperialist world’s ongoing attempts to reverse the Chinese Revolution, to subvert Chinese socialism, to weaken China, to diminish its role in international affairs and, as a result, to undermine the global trajectory towards multipolarity and a future free from hegemonism. As journalist Chen Weihua has pointed out, “the reasons for the intensifying US propaganda war are obvious: Washington views a fast-rising China as a challenge to its primacy around the world.” Furthermore, “the success of a country with a different political system is unacceptable to politicians in Washington.”[2]

Propaganda wars can also be war propaganda. In this case, the war in question is the escalating US-led New Cold War.[3] The various slanders against China – particularly the most lurid accusations, such as that of genocide in Xinjiang – have much in common with the 2003 allegations regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, or the 2011 allegation that the Libyan state under Muammar Gaddafi was preparing a massacre in Benghazi. These narratives are constructed specifically in order to mobilize public opinion in favor of imperialist foreign policy: waging a genocidal war against the people of Iraq; bombing Libya into the Stone Age; and, today, conducting a wide-ranging campaign of economic coercion, political subversion and military threats against the People’s Republic of China.

In his book Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism, Kwame Nkrumah, Pan-Africanist and first President of Ghana, discusses how “ideological and cultural weapons in the form of intrigues, manoeuvres and slander campaigns” were employed by the Western powers during the Cold War in order to undermine the socialist countries and the newly-liberated territories of Africa, Asia and Latin America. “While Hollywood takes care of fiction, the enormous monopoly press, together with the outflow of slick, clever, expensive magazines, attends to what it chooses to call ‘news’… A flood of anti-liberation propaganda emanates from the capital cities of the West, directed against China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Algeria, Ghana and all countries which hack out their own independent path to freedom.”[4] ….

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