The new major Chinese export: Propaganda

Listen to this segment from the show airing on February 3, 2018

The head of China's Xinhua news agency is shown in a promotional photograph meeting with the prime minister of Laos to discuss "media cooperation". That's a pretty benign way to describe what's almost certainly under development, especially considering that "news" is a very generous way to describe what China's actually trying to promote.

As Ely Ratner of the Council on Foreign Relations notes, "China exporting illiberalism and censorship in Asia. Expect much more 'media cooperation' under Belt and Road." If we're not a part of what's happening in the Asia-Pacific region, we shouldn't expect liberty and freedom to fill the void -- not with China's present leadership and the incentive structures they face. 

As Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore used to say, "To achieve the modernization of China, her Communist leaders are prepared to try all and every method, except for democracy with one person and one vote in a multi-party system."

Should America be fighting back with a propaganda push of our own? No -- because we don't have to. American values aren't well-served by crude propaganda. They are, however, served quite well by the truth and by transparency, which is why we do have to spend time, energy, and money on public diplomacy efforts in a way we haven't for a while. American efforts in this regard have been under budgetary assault for a long time, and tools of rival states (like Xinhua) are going to do their best to fill the vacuum. It's time for us to turn the volume back up again.

Brian Gongol

Brian Gongol

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