US-China Relations: War of Wits, Ideas and Words 

There are speculations, (or maybe worries) over the manner at which the Chinese officials are imposing their political views on the rest of its citizenry in other countries of the world. This however has been tagged “influence operations” by The Researchers at The Nonpartisan Rand Corporation; which explains the manner at which government officials go about digging information about every other country, explaining further how they use this information in influencing the views of their people who live there. The Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, tweeted recently that people should support the “One China” policy, which alleges that Taiwan is part of China. He said about those who undermine the Party’s position as “Those who play with fire will only get themselves burned.” The social media has in recent times become a great tool for bequeathing personal views and opinions on people, and of course there comes to mind people, whose occupations are ‘social media influencers’ The US as always, has frowned contemptuously towards Mr. Cui’s position in using this ‘tool’, as they point out the harm in Mr. Cui’s tweets which has been tagged as ‘veiled threats’ to the Chinese citizens who share ties and /or are residents in the US. The US has further gone on to claim that the Chinese political influencers most times use false information and/or facts in forming these opinions. While Twitter and Facebook executives are on their feet at always, banning these Chinese-run accounts that were, “part of a coordinated state-backed operation to promote Beijing’s view of Hong Kong,” a music artiste has come out recently in a video run by the China Global Television Network to say: “Hey Democracy / Yeah I’m talking about American hypocrisy”. This sends a great warning to the Americans as adding to this, the wavering relationship between corporate America and China came under check this week after the manager of US basketball team backed Hong Kong protesters in a tweet and got an angry response. The Chinese state broadcaster, CCTV has assured that they would suspend broadcasts of the NBA’s preseason games. There is a China Radio International programme which broadcasts on some radio stations across the US, and recently an analyst at Freedom House, (a pro-democratic nonprofit organization in the US) Sarah Cook says that the Chinese officials use these programmes “as a way to soften criticism of their government.” She adds that “the Chinese government has come under attack for its record on human rights” and that “the Beijing officials try to counter the criticism by emphasizing their contributions to science and other realms.” “They want to show a positive view of China,” Cook continues, “They want people to think about pandas and high-speed trains.” The US officials has also alleged that their broadcast which is largely views on policy issues aired on Mandarin and Cantonese programmes on Voice of America and Radio Free Asia are sometimes jammed by the Beijing officials. The Beijing officials in retaliation has also accused the Americans of airing propaganda to influence the views of people who live in China. A senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, (a US organization) Kenneth Geers, says Chinese officials attempt “to drive discussion through English-language editions of state-run China Daily and Global Times.” He also added that “Articles may raise questions about US troops stationed in Japan, and in this way,” he says that “China can insert itself and affect what people are hearing.” Mr. Geers explains further that If support for the stationing of US troops in Japan were to erode, US military presence in Asia might diminish: “China could conceivably win battles by changing how we perceive Japan or the South China Sea.” The Chinese officials have claimed that they are not in anyway influencing the views of the Chinese based in the US or elsewhere, citing an old-long policy of theirs on noninterventionism, Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence which emphasizes “mutual respect for sovereignty” between them and other countries. They also believe that Hollywood films misrepresent the Chinese culture, and so sometimes, they change the way the Chinese are portrayed. Using the film industry as a leverage, Robert Daly, the director of the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the US, says that through films, books and culture; the US has a presence in China. He believes US culture has influenced the way that people in China think and how they see the world. In comparison, he says, the impact of Chinese culture on the US has been negligible. “It’s not even a fleabite,” he says, compared to “how China has been influenced by America.” Writers for China Daily has however accused the US-based funders of these Pro-democracy organizations of “using the tool of democracy” for nefarious goals. But the US officials has claimed that the organizations are funded through the US national endowment for democracy which operate openly in China. “China views US democracy promotion as a strategic threat,” wrote Baogang He, in Wilson Quarterly, and believe that “the US officials are trying to isolate China from Europe and elsewhere internationally – in part by consolidating US moral leadership.” As the debate or battle (as you may call it) over words and ideas continues, one wonders how long it will take before the presidents of both countries starts to react.
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