China’s Social Media War

State controlled media urges fight “til the bitter end” and calls for boycott sanctions and urges a “media war” with the U.S.

First came a “viral” song spread by the authoritarian government on social media, titled simply “Trade War.”  

The song tune is from an “anti-Japanese” song dating back to the 1960s. The new “anti-American” lyrics were written by Zhao Liangtian, a retired government official and “an accredited member of the Poetry Institute of China, which is affiliated with the Communist Party’s propaganda department.

The song is not exactly an “ear worm” by popular music standards, and the message in the video is not subtle:

The lyrics include such fiery declarations as, “If the perpetrator wants to fight, we will beat him out of his wits!” and “Trade war! Trade war! Not afraid of the outrageous challenge!”

Zhao’s “Trade War” song is just one of many expressions of nationalist “fervor” pushed by the Chinese government over the past few weeks. Chinese radio and TV stations have been ordered to begin playing the “National Anthem” at 7:00 AM every morning.

Next, the Chinese state media also toke an increasingly strident tone, with the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily publishing a front-page commentary that evoked the “patriotic spirit of past wars.” 

State broadcaster CCTV’s “movie” channel changed its prime-time schedule from live-streaming the red carpet of “Asian Movie Week” to a number of post-war film classics, including “Heroic Sons and Daughters (1964), Battle on Shangganling Mountain (1954) and Surprise Attack (1960).”

All films are set during the “Korean War”, otherwise known in China as the “War to Resist American Aggression and Aid Korea.”

Hu Xijin, editor of state-owned tabloid the “Global Times” tweeted that the “Battle on Shangganling Mountain” should teach the Chinese that “there’s no equal negotiation without fighting” while CCTV said that it is “using artworks like films to echo with the current era.”

“All trade wars are paper tigers,” said a riff on a Communist propaganda poster published showing People’s Liberation Army soldiers “stamping on a pile of skulls.”  The posters alludes to Mao Zedong’s famous pronouncement in 1956 that “All reactionaries are paper tigers,” a derogatory term which he also applied to American imperialism.

Despite all this heavy “propaganda” artillery, the South China Morning Post speculated China is losing on the publicity front of the trade war, outgunned by President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, which has a remarkable knack for “penetrating” Beijing’s iron curtain of censorship and drawing attention on Chinese social media.

Media analysts quoted by the SCMP suggested China has been so heavy-handed in “censoring” information about the trade war that Trump has a free hand to “shape” the narrative and cause huge “disruptions” in both the Chinese Internet and stock markets.

If that is the case, Beijing may have a difficult time “recapturing” the narrative by remixing “50-year-old songs” and filling the TV schedule with “50-year-old movies.”

And now, China’s Communist Party controlled media stepped up the “war of words” with the United States urging an “escalation” of the ongoing trade dispute into a “full-scale conflict.”

“China must be prepared to fight a protracted war,” states a four-minute, “anti-American” video posted on a Chinese video-sharing service. The “inflammatory” video was produced by a “militant online” propaganda group called Mars Phalanx, which is known for producing “radical” videos.

“Trump’s ‘outrageous and selfish’ strategy might work for smaller countries, but it will never work for China,” the video warns. To quote a well-written article in the Global Times:If the Americans want to fight, we will fight them until the end! And we will fight until the Pacific Ocean splits into two!” The Global Times is the Communist Party of China’s nationalistic “mouth piece and anti-U.S. news outlet.”

During the voice-over, images of “cargo ships, trucks and shipping containers” in China, along with “high-technology” facilities in China, is shown. An “Apple” store and a “Boeing” jetliner also appears in the video plus American “fast-food” companies in China. Criticism of the United States is illustrated with images of the “U.S. Capitol.

The video was posted on “Watermelon Video”, a short-video sharing platform that is under control of “Beijing’s State Administration of Radio and Television,” the propaganda control office that “regulates all online and broadcast content.”

Anything broadcast or published to the estimated 300 million Watermelon users is therefore considered “approved” by senior leaders of the ruling Communist Party of China. Broadcasts or online reports that “violate” official rules can result in the “closing” down of the outlet and the “imprisonment” of its editors or reporters.

Analysts of Chinese propaganda said the posting of the video urging “conflict” with the United States represents a shift in official Communist Party policy in favor of more “hardliner anti-U.S. policies.”

President Trump’s announcement of increased “tariffs” on Chinese goods earlier this month was an escalation of the trade dispute. “This is an undisguised threat from a modern imperialistic country,” the video said. “Now that they can’t scare us with military forces, they resort to economic measures.”

The U.S. government imposed “sanctions” on the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE in 2018 for violating U.S. laws by “exporting” goods to Iran and North Korea. The video said compromises and concessions “cannot win pity from the enemy, just look at the case of ZTE.”

China’s Commerce Ministry announced May 19 that China will be forced to launch “countermeasures” to the new U.S. tariffs. The video said the Trump administration has launched a trade war “in the name of protecting their own intellectual property.”

“What America is doing is to protect its own competitive edge and hinder China’s progress in upgrading our industry,” the video states, adding that surrender in the competition of high-technology would prevent the next generation of Chinese to “compete and live with dignity.”

In response the video “urges” the Chinese government to impose “sanctions” on American companies doing business in China, including “Boeing, Wal-Mart, GE, Ford, McDonald’s, KFC, Apple, and U.S. airlines.” China also should sell its large holdings of “U.S. Treasury bonds” and ban the export of “rare earth metals.”

What will the millions of kids eat to stay corpulent and healthy without McDonald, KFC and Pizza Hut?

Further, the video urges “cutting” off Chinese industries controlled by U.S. companies in China like the fast-food company “Yum China and Coca-Cola” that the report said were already taking in more than $200 billion annual “profits” from China.

According to the video, the trade war is about “politics not economic” differences. “The trade war itself is not the goal but only a means to an end,” the video says. “In essence the trade war is a competition of overall national strength between China and USA.”

The trade “dispute” was not launched by Trump but instead was instigated by “anti-Chinese groups” the video asserts.

“We should be prepared for the expansion of the trade war because in its core, the United States is a country that admires strength,” the video said. “It is a matter of our country’s future, and China must not make any concessions. Fortune favors the bold, all imperialists are paper tigers!”

The video concluded by supporting the Chinese government’s response to the U.S. tariffs. Guo Wengui, a “dissident” Chinese billionaire, said broadcast of the “war like video” appears to be part of a “national propaganda campaign” in China by the Communist Party.

“Basically the video is meant to incite the emotions and a psychological warfare campaign designed to inspire people’s loyalty and foment nationalism. This is a standard ploy used by the Communist Party since Mao Zedong,” Guo explained in an interview.

Guo said such a “campaign” could be used by Chinese leaders who may be creating the conditions for “launching a military attack on Taiwan, conducting a further crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong or as a lead up to a clash with U.S. military forces in the disputed South China Sea.”

Guo urged the White House National Security Council, Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies to closely study the video for “clues” to future Chinese actions.

By permitting the “release” of these videos, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders are “trying to incite people to get behind the CCP and to lay out a plan for national warfare against the U.S.”

“This is not a joke from the CCP because they are really embedding a kind of a message in this video to prepare to confront the U.S.,” he added.

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