When US accuses China on information dominance, it’s like Uncle Sam talking about itself
Published: Sep 29, 2023 08:15 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The hypocrisy of the US is on full display in its newly-released report on China, while Washington’s anxiety on its own capability to dominate public opinion is also bubbling. The report, launched by the US Department of State on Thursday local time, is called “How The People’s Republic Of China Seeks To Reshape The Global Information Environment.” And the first reaction of the most readers is – isn’t the report about the US itself? 

The report focuses on accusing China of information manipulation via propaganda, disinformation, and censorship in an attempt to seek information dominance globally. Yet it sounds more like a portrayal of Uncle Sam himself when he is looking at the mirror, and then makes it about China, Shen Yi, a professor at Fudan University, told the Global Times.

Has China ever manipulated global information like the US has been doing? Like the time when Washington claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the media parroted the claim, and US allies followed suit in US-led invasion of the Middle East country? Or like the time when the US faced the world's highest COVID death toll, the US took the top spot on Bloomberg's COVID Resilience Ranking?

If the US claims No. 2 in the world in disinformation and public opinion manipulation campaign, no one dares to claim No. 1. Think about how US political elites and media outlets uniformly bleats the word “unprovoked” in reference to Russia-Ukraine conflict, despite the fact that the conflict was not only provoked, but deliberately provoked by NATO’s eastward expansion; and how the US distracts public attention from US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s report that the US was the mastermind behind the Nord Stream pipelines explosion, by claiming the sabotage was made by a six-member team of a pro-Ukraine group.

The US takes every measure to make the world hostile against Washington’s rivals. Launching an information war against China is therefore a part of US containment strategy, with a goal to create an “evil” image of China in the international public opinion arena. The new report is simply a latest example in US long list of tactics to make the world vigilant toward China. 

This is why the US has been encircling China, half a world away from US own soil, with a chain of military bases and ports, yet calling China an “aggressor.” When a Chinese civilian unmanned airship accidentally floated over the US, the later made no hesitation in labelling the incident an act of espionage. The hysteria lasted for months until Pentagon, after a lengthy examination, confirmed it did not collect any information, not to mention send any data back to China.

American elites are so comfortable living in their echo chamber to repeat their accusation on “forced labor in Xinjiang,” which appears in almost every China-related report issued by US authorities. Unsurprisingly, it also shows up in the latest report. When people, especially from Western countries, have actually visited Xinjiang, acknowledge the development, improved healthcare, rising education and employment levels in the region, as what they see with their bare eyes, the politicians in Washington are busying clamoring so-called genocide and forced labor. 

But whenever someone tells the truth, or whenever Chinese media tell the truth, they are labelled as a puppet of a Chinese propaganda machine. Who is manipulating information? How come the US has the freedom to spread disinformation but China becomes a manipulator for telling the truth? 

The US State Department gets one thing wrong. It is not China manipulating information. But the US has been undermining its own credibility by lying for so long. It seems the US can also sense the fragility of its manipulation. Unfortunately, the way it responds to it is spreading more disinformation by smearing its rivals. 

The more the US tries, the more its hypocrisy is exposed. The last thing the US cares about is public access to information, it cares about its hegemony, including that in the information field. Otherwise, why Julian Assange and Edward Snowden have to go through prosecution just for telling the truth?