Want to Hear Chinese Communist Propaganda Right on Your Own Radio?

I recently spent a few days in Northern Virginia visiting friends from my two decades working in Washington, D.C.  While driving around the Beltway, I happened upon WCRW, 1190 AM, a radio station in Leesburg with 50,000 watts of power, enough to blanket the nation's capital and its environs.  What makes this noteworthy is that the station is leased around the clock by China Radio International, a propaganda arm of the communist regime.

Programming runs the gamut from how dogs "talk" to their owners to Chinese language lessons to dramatic readings from Sun Tzu's The Art of War.  But entertainment is just a cover for the station's real purpose, promoting Beijing's foreign policy goals by disarming any opposition.  A segment argued that the European Union should maintain its "strategic autonomy," meaning rejecting alignment with the United States against Russia and China.  The Europeans were warned that their troubled economies could not support an arms buildup, so cooperation with Moscow and Beijing is the only "sensible" option.

Academics are preferred over officials as presenters.  An economics professor from a Chinese university reported on the State Council's new report, "China: Democracy That Works."  It opens with the claim "democracy is a common value of humanity and an ideal that has always been cherished by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese people."  But it is a unique form — what the paper calls "whole process democracy," where the test of the popular will is the success of state policy, not merely whether there are elections now and then.  Western concepts of multiparty contests are merely a façade behind which special interests conspire against the public interest.  The professor claimed that the billions spent in the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections could have been better spent helping the poor.  The report extols China's 2012 reforms.  "Socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era" with "the CPC Central Committee with [President] Xi Jinping at the core ... strengthening the CPC's overall leadership."  "Building a nationwide force towards the country's goals in the new era" is the true achievement of democracy because it puts the interests of the people first.  Neither Hitler nor Stalin could have put it better.

The report was issued just before the Summit for Democracy, called by President Joe Biden and held virtually December 9–10.  Some 110 countries were invited, along with representatives of civil society.  China was not invited, but Taiwan was, a welcome act to elevate the democratic island's status as a de facto independent nation-state.  This outraged Beijing which still counts Taiwan as a Chinese province, something the Taiwanese people reject.  A poll conducted last month by National Chengchi University's Election Study Center found that 84.9% supported maintaining the status quo between Taiwan and China (separation) while only 1.6% favored unification with the mainland.  That's democracy.  An invasion by Beijing would not be liberation; it would be brutal conquest.

Even more chilling for Beijing is that Hong Kong activist Nathan Law, who claimed asylum in the U.K. after Beijing imposed its draconian "national security law" last year, spoke to the Summit on Friday.  China has pulled out all the stops in denouncing the summit.  CPC media outlet the Global Times proclaimed, "The summit held by the democratically dysfunctional US is essentially an anti-China farce, which includes a losers' alliance and self-hypnotized cultists with 'democracy' slogans."

Beijing likes to use Western "experts" to make its points and finds it disturbingly easy to recruit people willing to turn against the own countries in China's cause.  Its Leesburg outpost broadcast an hour-long program on "What Ails American Democracy" Friday featuring Harry Targ, an emeritus political science professor from Purdue University, and Fiona Edwards, the British head of No Cold War.  The Chinese moderator opened with the question, "Biden is hosting a 'Summit for Democracy' with leaders from over 100 countries.  But with democracy under threat at home, does the U.S. have the moral authority to lecture the rest of the world about democracy?"  The panelists answered, "No."

Dr. Targ's blog "Diary of a Heartland Radical" expounds on every left-wing topic.  He wants to "contribute to the analysis and debate: about global capitalism, about militarism, and about building progressive movements."  He agreed with the moderator's theme that capitalism and democracy are "antithetical" because the required egalitarianism has been destroyed by "monopoly" capitalism and "right-wing economic liberalism."  Yet Beijing's rise has been built on state-backed capitalism operating on a global scale and the militarism funded by it.  Beijing brags about its economic success by citing that it has more billionaires than the U.S.  This does not bother Targ, whose motive is the old adage "the enemy of my enemy [America] is my friend."  As he has written in his blog "the U.S., compared to China particularly, is experiencing stagnation or decline."  On the panel, he criticized Purdue for working on defense projects designed to meet the China threat.  Foreign enemies always find such people to be "useful idiots," as Lenin knew.

Fiona Edwards made more interesting comments, but in ways that portrayed her as a Beijing sympathizer.  Her group No Cold War believes that "a New Cold War against China is against the interests of humanity.  We note the increasingly aggressive statements and actions being taken by the U.S. government in regard to China.  These constitute a threat to world peace and are an obstacle to humanity successfully dealing with extremely serious common issues which confront it such as climate change, control of pandemics, racist discrimination and economic development."  Edwards argued that the Summit for Democracy was a "Cold War initiative" that "aims to get other countries across the world to join in with Washington's attack on China in the name of promoting respect for human rights."  In this, she is correct.  President Biden is building on President Donald Trump's success in regenerating the Cold War coalition against the Soviet Union (whose successor Russian state is aligned with China).  President Trump concentrated on traditional allies in Europe and Asia.  President Biden prefers a more liberal-ideological framework, though it will take more than rhetoric to get nations to act in a credible "coalition of the willing" to deter or defeat Chinese (and Russian) aggression.

That President Biden cannot acknowledge the groundwork laid by his predecessor in meeting the China threat does indicate a flaw in American democracy.  Partisan rancor has reached a level that undermines the presentation of a united front against foreign adversaries.  Deterrence is called into question, inviting aggression, when the question is raised about whether national will can be sustained and popular effort mobilized as required to prevail.  Yet, perceptions to the contrary, there does seem to be a bipartisan (if not unanimous) consensus in Congress and public opinion that China and Russia pose dangers that must be countered.

No Cold War has denounced London's participation in the Summit.  "The real focus of British foreign policy today, following the defeat of the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan, is to follow the U.S. in its new cold war against China.  This has included the sending of Britain's largest ever aircraft carrier to the South China Sea and joining the new AUKUS military pact alongside the U.S. and Australia aimed against China."  The U.K. carrier group that sailed from the British Isles to Japan, conducting joint operations with India and other countries along the way, included a Dutch frigate, making it a NATO operation in accordance with the "NATO 2030: United for a New Era" report (drafted during the Trump administration).  The report states, "NATO must devote much more time, political resources, and action to the security challenges posed by China."  The Biden administration has sought to strengthen these alignments not only at NATO, but with the E.U., the G20, and most recently at the G7 meeting in Liverpool, where discussion covered a range of China-related issues, including Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the East and South China Seas, and tensions across the Taiwan Strait.  The concluding statement also expressed concern about the "coercive economic policies" of China.

Beijing immediately denounced the G7 for "irresponsible remarks on China and its interference in China's internal affairs."  Beijing's territorial claims are vast, and every dispute is considered an internal matter for the empire.  It is the mission of China Radio International to tell the world that this is the rule going forward, and resistance is futile.

For those concerned, and properly so, about foreign influence in American democracy and the recruitment of domestic activists to serve overseas regimes, there is no need to indulge in conspiracy theories.  One only needs to tune in 1190 AM when visiting the nation's capital to hear the plot broadcast in the clear.

William R. Hawkins is a former economics professor who served on the professional staff of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.  He has written widely on international economics and national security issues for both professional and popular publications.

Image via Needpix.

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