China unleashes information war using state media amid India-China border crisis

New DehWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Jun 08, 2020, 10:27 PM IST


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For the uninitiated, GT was established in 1993 and claims to be the third-largest newspaper in China. A subsidiary of the notorious People's Daily, both are officially run by the Chinese Communist Party. 

While India and China are making sure the ongoing crisis is resolved via the dialogue, information war or Psychological operations (PSYOP) play an important role for Bejing. China's state-run media plays an important role in sending out feelers of what mandarins in Bejing feel--especially using Global Times.

“PLA conducts manoeuvres in high-altitude NW China amid border tensions with India” screamed the headlines of a news article by Global Times or GT in short. The article went on to describe how the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) had “organized a large-scale manoeuvre operation featuring thousands of paratroopers and armoured vehicles from Central China's Hubei Province to the country's high-altitude northwestern region over a long distance amid border tension between China and India”. The entire process was completed in “only a few hours”, it claimed.

The article accompanied by a choreographed video clipping did lighten the mood of many social media followers who found it laughable and amateurish, on several counts. 

The entire evolution of moving thousands of troops nearly 4,000 km took “only a few hours”. Indeed, even the United States’ famed TRANSCOM would be envious. From a low altitude of 3,500 feet in Hubei province, the troops moved to “high altitude north-western region” at 15,000 feet in a few hours. Perhaps Chinese troops have achieved super-human capabilities of climate acclimatisation, according to a video tweeted by the Global Times. 


Recent articles attributed to a retired PLA General also claimed that close to 70% of the Chinese military force today is comprised single-children, with no siblings – all brought up as pampered “little emperors” by parents and consequently unable to bear the pressures of military service.

The most striking aspect of this news article and video is its timing – less than a day after the India and China held a meeting at Moldo near Chushul, represented by the XIV Corps Commander on the Indian side and Commander of the South Xinjiang Military District from the Chinese side. Both sides had barely declared through respective foreign ministries their intention to peacefully resolve the impasse through diplomatic channels, that this news and video were served on GT as a veiled threat to India.

Unlike the PLA which since its 1979 war with Vietnam has found its toughest adversary only in its population, the Indian Army has remained battle-hardened 24x365 – operationally and psychologically – thanks in no small measure to China’s iron brother, Pakistan.

For the uninitiated, GT was established in 1993 and claims to be the third-largest newspaper in China. A subsidiary of the notorious People's Daily, both are officially run by the Chinese Communist Party. 

The People’s Daily signals through its daily slumber-inducing editorials to those in the know, as to whose career is on the upswing and whose is in a downward spin. GT, on the other hand, has a decree to attract and engage readers through a manipulative narrative, often through hyperbole. Today, GT is best known not for news, but its chest-thumping, hawkish and affronting editorials. One common theme is to criticise the alleged “perfidy” and “hypocrisy” of any country that disagrees with China while paeans of China’s supposed goodness to mankind are spread over its pages. 

Hu Xijin, GT Editor since 2005, is a postgraduate in Russian Literature and Language. Starting his career as a journalist with People’s Daily in 1989, Hu Xijin led a student group in the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. When the student leader of 1989 became the Editor of GT and was indoctrinated by the Communists, he had no qualms in terming the student actions of 1989 as naivety. On the contrary, Hu Xijin recently urged authorities to shoot student protestors in Hong Kong. 

World over, scientists have been naming diseases based on the places of origin. Zika virus from Zika forest in Brazil; Ebola virus from Ebola river in Congo; Hantavirus from Hantan river in South Korea; the Spanish Flu from Spain; the MERS or Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome from the Arab countries. All these years, GT did not find any of these virus’ names racist. 

Following this convention, when the world attributed the current pandemic to Wuhan, GT cried foul, terming it a racist attack on the Chinese people. GT, however, continues to regularly publish articles on the ‘African Swine Flu’. The whole African continent and its people are fair game for GT and the Chinese Communist Party. The belligerent puffery did not stop there and origins of the Wuhan virus began to be attributed by GT first to Italy, the UK, the US military, Thailand and even India in recent times!

GT has been specialising in inflammatory and instigating editorials – whether it is against protestors in Hong Kong or on the current events surrounding the death of the African American – George Floyd. Yet, there was not a word of remembrance for Tiananmen on June 4 this year when the world marked its 31st anniversary. Not a word for the racial and religious persecution of Uyghurs. In diplomatic circles, a popular joke is – “ah, but if it is from GT, don’t bother”. Little wonder then, outside China, none takes GT’s editorials seriously. Rest assured, the Dragon’s breath smells foul every time it opens its mouth.