China’s Disinformation Campaign Must Convince the World—and Itself

State-run media blitz out to repair dark image of the Chinese regime around the globe, at home
March 31, 2020 Updated: April 2, 2020

Commentary

As the CCP virus pandemic continues its deadly world tour, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) finds itself at a very critical juncture.

As the cause of the global pandemic that’s killing thousands of people every day, the leadership is doing everything it can to hide the truth of what it is and what it has done to the Chinese people, as well as to the rest of the world.

One would expect that both the Chinese people and the world at large would be condemning the Chinese communist regime for its evident and expanding crimes against humanity. But that’s only partially the case.

Telling the Right Lies to the Right People

The Party’s propaganda machine is making deep inroads in convincing its population of several lies that make the Party look better than it should in the eyes of the people. It’s seeing some success in the rest of the world with this strategy as well.

The Party’s primary audience must first and foremost be its young people. Those in the late teens through early-30s demographic are the future of China and the Party. The CCP desperately needs to persuade that group to disbelieve their own eyes and accept the Party’s unbelievable story without question.

Thanks to videos of the Party’s widespread brutality against the doctors, reporters, and victims in Wuhan that went viral throughout China—an ironic phrase if there ever was one—discontent and alienation from the Party among its youth may be a bigger worry for the Party than it yet realizes.

That remains to be seen and may be expressed later in the year in a discontented economic context.

Making the US the Bad Guy

The CCP’s propaganda narrative is a simple but bold lie. It professes that the United States is actually to blame for the pandemic. American soldiers, so the story goes, brought the virus to Wuhan during some military games held there.

The supporting lie, like the first, is entirely self-serving. China, the state-run media say, was only able to respond to and overcome the foreign attack through the wisdom and strength of the CCP. Beijing is using that angle to present Communist Party rule as the solution to a world looking for answers.

Everything But the Truth

Missing from that story arc, of course, are the denials of the viral outbreak in November and December 2019, the arrests and forced recants of whistleblowers, the spread of the disease for two months by allowing infected Chinese to travel abroad, the many uncounted deaths, and other mistakes, cruelties, and omissions.

Still, so far, the Chinese people haven’t held the Party responsible for the mass deaths of the pandemic. One could argue that the CCP’s internal propaganda is, at least to some degree, a success.

Beijing’s PR Offensive

The Party is winning the propaganda war in some parts of the world outside of China. This is especially true in African and South American regions. Nations such as Ethiopia and Brazil, which are both beneficiaries of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also known as One Belt, One Road), have at least given Beijing a nod to its public relations campaign.

Beijing’s global image rehabilitation efforts have also received some key help from the World Health Organization (WHO). In the case of the WHO, its director-general is Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who from the very beginning, had only praise for Beijing, even though its behavior resulted in spreading the deadly virus to the entire world.

Fooling Some, But Not All

But not every nation is taken in by the CCP’s propaganda. The UK government is reportedly “furious” at China’s lies and mishandling of the outbreak that has led to the current pandemic. The infected include several high-ranking government officials and family members, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Party’s messaging challenge, therefore, is to maintain and expand the propaganda to two separate audiences at the same time. That may be easier within its borders, at least for the moment, but the Party’s economic mandate is now in serious jeopardy.

CCP Threatened by Recession

A deep contraction of the Chinese economy—up to 10 percent by some estimates in the first quarter alone—is underway. This recessionary drop off is not likely to improve this year. And with a global recession or depression on the horizon, 2021 isn’t looking so great either.

A recession poses a direct threat to the CCP, whose sole source of political legitimacy in China is delivering economic growth. That’s why the breadth and depth of the CCP’s domestic propaganda to its young people has reached the level that it has.

It takes an enormous lie told in many ways and many times, along with a lot of money, to obscure such a historically tragic and significant truth and its consequences. Paradoxically, it also requires silencing a significant portion of the younger generation, while at the same time, obtaining its support.

The reality is that China’s highly engaged social media generation has seen for themselves the Party’s unbridled brutality against people who spoke the truth about the “Wuhan virus.” Their eyes have been opened by witnessing firsthand, through China’s extensive social media channels, the utter contempt the Party has for the Chinese people.

But will they believe Beijing … or their own eyes?

James Gorrie is a writer and speaker based in Southern California. He is the author of “The China Crisis.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.