How the Chinese Communist Propaganda Machine Runs Wild and Free in America
The follow was submitted with my testimony on Chinese Perception Management in a hearing entitled:
Testimony of Greg Autry
Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine
Senior Economist, American Jobs Alliance
The Price of Public Diplomacy with China
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Committee on Foreign Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
March 28, 2012
Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. My name is Greg Autry. I am the co-author, with Peter Navarro, of the book Death by China. I have served as a lecturer in Business Strategy and Macroeconomics at the Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine where I am currently completing a PhD in the area of Public Policy and Economics. I also serve as Senior Economist for the American Jobs Alliance. I am testifying on my own behalf at my own expense and my views are not necessarily the views of those organizations.
My testimony will focus on the co-option of the U.S. media, academic, business and political elite by the Chinese under the influence of the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department.
In the two decades since Henry Kissinger convinced America to overlook the massacre in Tiananmen Square, we’ve been mired in a relentless, one-sided trade war camouflaged under Chinese propaganda with the aid of an American fifth column of media pundits, CEOs and academics. Eager to cheer the rise of state capitalism and to blame Americans for all our economic ills these apologists tell us Chinese currency manipulation, illegal export subsidies, and labor repression are not real problems. The real problems are our unions, our military adventurism, our legal system, our environmental regulations, our polarized media, and our “do nothing” Congress. Yet, by any objective evaluation we are still Ronald Reagan’s “Shining City Upon a Hill” in every one of these categories when compared to Beijing.
So, why do so many of our leaders listen when Thomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria and the rest of the Flat World Society sing their siren song of global prosperity just over the horizon? Why do we continue to open our markets and media to a non-reciprocating China when our eyes tell us that the only thing being flattened is America’s productive capacity? Why do many in America believe that China is progressing toward democracy or improving human rights, when the empirical evidence says just the opposite? Why does our President publicly repeat Chinese propaganda phrases like “peaceful rise” while simultaneously allocating billions of taxpayer dollars to counter China’s increasingly aggressive military posture?
The answer to this conundrum lies in the concept of the “Reality Distortion Field.” This is a phrase that was coined by associates of the late Steve Jobs to describe his uncanny ability to induce compliance and agreement in those around him even when they knew Mr. Job’s statements were untrue and even when they were fully aware that they were being manipulated and even exploited. In the last decade, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has expanded its domestic Big Lie propaganda system into a global reality distortion field.
Americans are aware of China’s overt, internal information control system, which includes media and Internet censorship along with the brutal suppression of public dissent. What many don’t see, even while in-country, is the pervasiveness of the Chinese propaganda system. Professor Anne-Marie Brady of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand has noted that “propaganda and thought work (Xuānchuán yǔ sīxiǎng gōngzuò, 宣传与思想工作) have become the very life blood (Shēngmìngxià, 生命线) of the Party-State.”
The new head of Central China Television (CCTV), Hu Zhanfan, made this clear last year, when he chastised CCTV news workers who fancied themselves “journalists” rather than accepting their proper role as “mouthpieces” and “the Party’s propaganda workers.” Mr. Hu went on to call “Strengthening education in the Marxist view of journalism . . .” a matter of “extreme urgency.”
This ideological thinking does not stop at China’s border as their state controlled news outlets expand across the globe. China’s overseas distortion field goes by many innocuous names including “foreign affairs” (Wàishì or外事), “foreign policy” (Dùwài zhèngcè , 渡外政策), and the pleasant sounding “foreign friendship” (Duìwài guānxì对外关系).
While all nations conduct official and unofficial efforts to manage their reputations abroad and project their values, an aggressive dictatorship in sheep’s clothing presents a very special challenge.
America’s ever-hopeful policy of engagement, careful not to offend China’s hypersensitive rulers, has driven a very soft official U.S. stance on issues of Chinese domestic behavior, as well as on its increasingly aggressive geopolitical and military posture, even among those who should know better. Those who don’t know better – are less informed about what is actually happening in Beijing, in Africa, and in the South China Sea – in the media, academia and business take their queues from a timid Administration and a diffident State Department. Our government’s public behavior clearly implies that Communist China is a normal nation, to be treated the same as Canada or India. This tacit endorsement has established an environment that allows the Chinese state-propaganda-machine to run wild and free in America and use our most powerful institutions to project the Communist Party’s world-view.
China’s rulers are the world’s experts at lying and at getting others to lie for them. In Communist China, truth is defined by the power of the authority doing the speaking rather than an objective evaluation of what is said. Domestically, the Party utilizes brute force to intimidate dissidents. Externally, they must co-opt foreign apologists. Sometimes this is a straightforward monetary transaction, but the most valuable targets are those whose honesty gives them credibility.
The first step is the subtle tactic of getting an honest target to knowingly accept and publicly repeat an innocuously small part of the Big Lie for the sake of politeness or convenience. The victim is now a partner in fraud, however minor, and will be compelled to defend that point or lose face. They find themselves annoyed with those who insist on all the little truths and more at ease within the comfortable newspeak inside the distortion field.
The prime example of the Small Lie is, “People’s Republic of China” or simply the “PRC.” While we all know that this authoritarian dictatorship does not belong to its people and that it is by no definition a republic, we acquiesce rather than argue in hopes of moving on to more constructive talk. However, once we’ve accepted “People’s Republic”, phrases like “Harmonious Society” and “Peaceful Rise” lose the Orwellian flavor that should put us all on high alert. We tell ourselves, “It’s just the way the Chinese are,” (i.e. chronic benders of the truth) and move on in the vain hope of reaching constructive agreements. Western CEOs and politicians regularly find themselves surprised at the audacious way Communist Chinese routinely ignore signed business contracts and international agreements. When we consider this in the context of the name of an entire country being an obscene falsehood, nothing should surprise us.
American schools and universities are increasing full of CCP apologists who expertly convey China’s thought work. NYU Adjunct, Ann Lee, wonderfully praises China’s leaders, downplays the CCP’s propaganda campaign, and scorns a major human rights figure in a single astounding sentence form her book What the U.S. Can Learn from China:
The fact that the Nobel Committee awarded the 2010 Peace Prize to a locked-up dissident, Liu Xiaobo, instead of Hu Jintao for leading a billion people to prosperity in a peaceful way is a testament to the huge failure of public relations on the part of the Chinese to communicate their position and present their image to the world.
Sadly, this is becoming the dominant paradigm in America’s Universities and Lee, whose biography notes that she has advised Chinese officials, continues without irony:
China is still being perceived as undemocratic and antiliberal by the West, but the problem can be easily corrected with more astute public relations training.
Professor Lee also presents China’s vision of reeducating America’s youth with their Confucius Institutes (CI):
This strategy of bringing students from other parts of the world to China is similar to the strategy Julius Caesar used when he conquered Gaul. Since Caesar didn’t have enough Romans to run the region, Caesar took the sons of the conquered elites and raised them as his own instead of throwing them into jail. By caring for them in such a way, he turned Gauls into Romans who could be trusted to run Gaul for the Roman empire. [Emphasis added]
Clearly, the Central Propaganda Department did their homework when they chose Confucius as a mascot. Sneaking a “Mao Institute” into your child’s elementary school would not go over so well with the PTA. However, the CI curriculum was not developed in some temple on a misty mountain, but in a Communist Party office in Beijing. Interestingly, curriculum from real Confucian scholars wouldn’t be allowed in China anyway. Mao suppressed Confucianism and the Party views it as a competing authoritarian philosophy incompatible with Marxism. Just last year, the master’s statue was unceremoniously booted from a display adjacent to Tiananmen Square.
While the Chinese claim that the CI are a function of their Education Ministry, it was politburo member Li Changchun who toured Europe and dispersed funding to cooperative European educational institutions. As Brett Decker and William C. Triplett II report in their book, Bowing to Beijing, “Li is a nasty piece of work”, heading up the CCP’s propaganda and censorship units and personally initiating China’s 2009 attacks on U.S. based Google. Europe is not alone, according to Decker and Triplett, the University of Nebraska took $270,000 for setting up a CI and Stanford University is rumored to have accepted $4million.
While ignoring God, Confucianism does include spiritualism and the ceremonial worship of ancestors, with temples dedicated to venerating its sages. The obvious separation of Church and State issue that should be raised here remains hidden by the reality distortion field. Further, the Confucian support of the Divine Right of Kings (Mandate of Heaven) and of accepting one’s place in society (filial piety to rulers and elders) is hardly in keeping with the American principal of “All men are created equal.”
The Confucius Institutes also reveal how the reality distortion field drives American duplicity in dealing with China. Consider that America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is very similar. We run a chronic trade deficit with that authoritarian kingdom and we routinely overlook its human rights abuses and its support of those who wish to undermine liberty, democracy, and tolerance. To their credit, at least the Saudi’s aren’t selling organs or building a massive anti-U.S. military machine. What would the reaction be to the Saudi’s establishing hundreds of Mohammed Institutes in our schools, designed to teach Arabic and introduce Arab culture to young Americans? If that doesn’t seem acceptable, then why are we allowing a communist state that has a growing nuclear arsenal aimed at America to infest our schools with their ideology?
In my own experience as a student and a former faculty member at the University of California, the growing concentration of Chinese students, studies, and special relationships is damaging the formerly international diverse flavor of our the academic experience. There was a time when we’d have a very broad mix of international students from Asia, Latin America, and Europe in an MBA classroom. Now, there is often the Mainland Chinese cohort and “everyone else.” Let me be clear, individually most of these students are fine scholars, do good work and contribute to the school. The issue I have is with their overwhelming predominance and the presumption that there is some special bond between America and Communist China. Further, there is a sense of fatality within academia, which seems to accept the notion that China must inevitably eclipse the U.S. in business, research and education; so, we’d all better get on board with the Chinese now to protect our future careers.
There are more than 125,000 Chinese students in U.S. Universities, far more than any other nationality. They are particularly dominant at the graduate level and in the economically critical hard sciences, engineering and business departments. A big part of the reason for this is the money they bring in with out-of-state tuition fees and in the funding of special chairs, institutes and grants. The China Daily blatantly advises:
Applicants from China should look at state universities in the US and lesser-known small colleges which need their dollars. One good bet is California. . . . California cut funding for the University of California this year by $650 million . . . A University of California commission recently recommended that the university system increase enrollment of nonresident students to as much as 10 percent of all undergraduates.
My University has a growing number of relationships with Chinese universities and a newly endowed, “U.S. China Institute for Business and Law.” The purpose of which is described by the Dean of the Law school:
“We are at a unique moment in the history of our two countries in which it is especially important to build bridges between them in business and law. And in each country, the legal system provides a unique framework within which business can flourish.” [emphasis added]
This last sentence represents an astounding level of naivety when one honestly considers what the Chinese legal framework is. The Chinese constitution guarantees freedom of the press, speech, assembly and religion, but the Chinese state detains thousands without trial for religious and political purposes. Many prisoners have been beaten, tortured and used as involuntary organ donors. Many business people have told me that extortion; property seizure, kidnapping, and assault are routine occurrences, conducted by Chinese gangs with the tacit approval or open cooperation of Chinese police and courts.
When Xi Jinping, the anointed next dictator of China, came to California last month, the Dean of Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business school wrote, “We are honored to host Vice President Xi Jinping’s delegation at the Graziadio School in the hope that our discussion and interaction will increase business opportunities and cooperation between our two countries.” [emphasis added]
The ubiquitous China Daily newspaper is the strongest outward manifestation of Communist Chinese influence in the U.S. I find it all over campus and on nearly every corner here in DC. It is clear that the vast majority of Americans have no idea that this is a publication entirely owned and operated by a foreign government, which routinely engages in combative behavior with America and our allies.
A China Daily editorial on August 8, 2011 entitled “China must punish U.S. for Taiwan arm sales with ‘financial weapon’” suggests “China should consider how to build a direct link between the U.S. Treasury bond purchase and US domestic politics . . .” The intention to directly interfere in American affairs is totally clear.
Outrageously, The China Daily inserts a monthly print and daily online supplement into The Washington Post entitled “China Watch.” The site features the large, bold, black masthead of the Washington Post in the upper left corner. Hidden, below the title “China Watch” on the right is the tiny disclaimer “A paid supplement to The Washington Post.” When I showed about a dozen associates the China Watch site and asked, “What organization is doing the reporting here?” the unanimous response was, “The Washington Post.”
Zhao Qizheng, who as director-general of China’s State Council Information Office, and the Communist Party’s Office of Foreign Propaganda promised to expand the projection of the values of China’s communist government and to “exert influence on the foreign public. . . ” In an interview Zhao describes his efforts to sanitize China’s human rights record abroad as “fairly systematic and penetrating.” Repeating the big lie – in this case that China is a society ruled by law – is critical to maintaining the reality distortion field. Even the public repetition of familiar charges against China, in a sterile atmosphere filled with calm and smiling Chinese diplomats in business suits desensitizes the Western mind.
In the U.S. the Party controlled state television China Central Television (CCTV) has essentially unrestricted access to American cable viewers, while in China American networks have very limited access to “select” viewers under the watchful eye of the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) which censors the political content of broadcasts.
The Mandarin language CCTV channel 4 is directed at the Overseas Chinese community and Americans of Chinese decent in particular. Nurturing a stronger sense of Chinese nationalism in America is a critical function of CCTV 4. Chinese dissidents in the U.S. tell me that the deep pockets of CCP backed Chinese language TV and newspapers in the U.S. have driven formerly anti-communist media to the margins in the rapidly growing Chinese-American community. Anne-Marie Brady writes that a Chinese training manual on foreign propaganda explicitly suggests acquiring influence in Overseas Chinese groups in order to, “turn them into propaganda bases for China.”
CCTV channel 9 is designed to put a friendly face on China’s brutal regime for English speakers in America, Canada, and Great Britain. Brady has written that CCTV 9 executive refer to their channel as “soft propaganda” and that its “senior editorial staff and journalists were all forced to write self-criticisms” for reporting honestly on Chinese coal mine disasters.
Chinese state news organizations such Xinhua, People’s Daily, and China Daily generate a vast amount of English language web content directed at insinuating Party approved messages into the mainstream U.S. Internet media and blogosphere. The sheer volume of this material and the laziness of some U.S. reporters insures that excerpts from and links to these Communist press releases routinely turn up in American branded reporting.
Many U.S. websites like cnn.com are routinely censored or blocked at various times and places. The less censored, “privileged” Internet is offered in “Western Hotels” both as an accommodation for American guests as well as to hide from Westerners the level of thought control that the average Chinese citizen endures.
While American multinational corporations are increasingly dependent on China’s, subsidies and currency manipulation, American consumers are not fond of the “Made in China” label. More than half of them report that they actively avoid Chinese made products and a quarter of them identify China as an “Enemy of the United States.” This compels firms to defend China and ironically to cover up their association with China even when their Chinese hosts have repeatedly cheated them.
No case of cooption has been more blatant than that of General Electric CEO, Jeff Immelt. In July of 2010, Immelt told a group of Italian executives in Rome that he was “really worried about China.” He warned of the ongoing Chinese “colonization” of resource rich countries, and complained of increasing Chinese market protectionism saying, “I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful.”
Just three months later Immelt announced plans to transfer nearly $2billion of American capital into joint ventures with Chinese state owned firms. In January of 2011 he met with Chinese dictator Hu Jintao and President Obama and with a straight face said, “There is a multitude of ways to succeed in China.” Two days after that, the President appointed Immelt Chair of the White House’s new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, aka “Jobs Czar.” Since then GE has towed the Chinese line, accelerated investment in China and moved an entire business division to Beijing. Immelt has also agreed to offer GE’s sensitive advanced avionics technology to Communist state owned firms that compete with U.S. aircraft firms.
To hide the Chinese nature of their products many nominally American firms skirt the FTC’s country of origin regulations. “Made in China” labels are carefully concealed or designed to fade or fall off in transit. The attached photos of a Nike Baseball bat are representative of this practice. Permanently emblazoned on the highly visible barrel end of the bat is the wording “Crafted by Nike – Beaverton Oregon,” while a small, insecure “Made in China” sticker is hidden under the handle.
The case of Los Angeles based CODA Automotive is both an egregious attempt to disguise a Chinese product and a disturbing demonstration of how American political appointees benefit from support of China’s reality distortion field. At the most recent LA Auto show, CODA’s staff and executive spokesperson openly described their firm and car as “All American.” However, when confronted, they reluctantly admitted that 65% of the vehicle is imported from “overseas”, doing everything possible to avoid saying “China.”  In fact, the car is the Saibao III chassis from Hafei motors with batteries from another Chinese state owned firm. Yet, there was no reference to the vehicle’s Chinese origin in the sales literature nor on the major pages of the website. It is certainly reasonable to believe that consumers could purchase this car without knowing it comes from China. CODA has good reasons to hide their China connection as their partner, Hafei motors is wholly owned by a Chinese state weapons conglomerate, China South Industries Group. 
Shockingly, Hank Paulson, who as U.S. Treasury Secretary supported China’s economic reality distortion field for years by denying China’s obvious currency manipulation, is an investor and advisor to CODA. Clinton Chief of Staff Mack McLarty is also an advisor and our current Commerce Secretary, John Bryson, served on the CODA board.
Overall my findings are:
The Chinese Communist Party views Americans and their leaders as naïve, short sighted and easily coopted.
China is very actively involved in manipulating the American media to promote the Communist Party agenda, while actively constraining reciprocal American access to their media.
China has carefully targeted our schools, universities and multinational corporations as agents for Chinese propaganda.
Former and current US government officials have been uncomfortably financially intertwined with Chinese state owned business leading to a real question of their ability to speak or act objectively in regards to China.
American political leaders, business leaders, and pundits are increasingly out of touch with the reality of Chinese propaganda and with mainstream American views on Communist China.
I would like to thank Brian McAdam, formerly of the Canadian foreign service, for his knowledgeable input
Appendix A – Photos
 Anne-Marie Brady, Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China, Rowman and Littlefield, 2008. p. 1.
 Ann Lee, What the US Can Learn from China: An Open Minded Guide to An Open-Minded Guide to Treating Our Greatest Competitor as Our Greatest Teacher, Kindle Edition, 2011 p. 5
 Lee, p. 194
 Brett Decker and William C. Triplett II, Bowing to Beijing, 2011. Pg. 164
 Brett Decker and William C. Triplett II, Bowing to Beijing, 2011. Pg. 165
 For a detailed investigation of the organ harvesting crimes against humanity please see Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China by David Matas and David Kilgour.
 http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2011-08/08/content_13069554.htm, reposted from People’s Daily
 Wang Zhongshen, Duiwai xuanchuan chulun (Introduction to Foreign Propaganda), 2000 via Anne-Marie Brady, Marketing Dictatorship, 2010 edition, p. 163.
 Anne-Marie Brady, Marketing Dictatorship, 2010 edition, p. 167.
 taken by the witness at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Yorba Linda, CA in March of 2012.
 The author observed about half the bats missing this label.
 You have to dig into the FAQs where formerly it was in a hidden section of text. Since our LA Times article CODA has expanded the FAQ coverage on China.
The official posting of this testimony on the house site is at: