With funding and program cuts, Washington is crippling the truth-
telling Voice of America broadcasts in China. Meanwhile, Beijing is
aggressively expanding its media campaign to spread untruths -
broadcasting from American soil. America can't afford to let the VOA
In the war of ideas between freedom and authoritarianism, the
Voice of America (VOA) broadcast program is losing to the voice of
communist China - not because Beijing's message is better but
because its strategic vision and will to win surpass Washington's.
The United States government is unilaterally disarming (through
funding and personnel cuts) much of its program of speaking truth to
the Chinese people. Meanwhile, the People's Republic is aggressively
expanding its campaign to spread untruths, especially about Western
anti-China "plots." Worse, China's misinformation now openly targets
the American people, as well - and does it from American soil.
Yet the Broadcast Board of Governors, which manages and oversees
all US civilian international broadcasting, proposes cutting parts
of its radio transmissions to China and Tibet as well as Burma,
Laos, and Vietnam. The board plans to eliminate dozens of personnel
directly or indirectly involved in local language broadcasts to
those countries even as it adds scores of administrative positions
despite budget constraints.
The board of governors proposed drastic reductions in its
Mandarin radio broadcasts until Congress ordered a halt. It is now
reviewing its plans for total elimination of the Cantonese program
reaching China's most dynamic and democratic-leaning population. The
rationale was that "audiences...prefer digital and social media."
By contrast, Beijing recognizes the continuing importance of
radio and television to tens of millions of Chinese. The government-
controlled China Central Television has just opened a new state-of-
the-art broadcast bureau in Washington, D.C. as part of a major
overseas expansion aimed at boosting China's international
CCTV America is now producing news programs in English for an
American audience - again, notwithstanding the even greater role of
digital and social media in the United States. At the same time,
CCTV transmits back to China - on radio and television - Beijing's
official version of news and information from the United States.
China's official Xinhua News Agency is also expanding its
overseas television operations. Known as CNC, the station broadcasts
Chinese and English-language channels to almost 60 countries in the
West and Asia.
Leaving no communications stone unturned, Beijing is not
reluctant to utilize supposedly old-fashioned newsprint as well. It
publishes the newspaper China Daily USA and distributes it free in
America's cities. It also produces attractive inserts for leading
American newspapers such as The Washington Post.
The Associated Press in Beijing reports that "[t]he expansion
aims to counter negative images of China, especially over issues
such as human rights, one-party communist rule, and Beijing's
policies in the restive western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet."
China effectively employs an audacious two-track media strategy,
applying soft power abroad and hard power at home. It extends its
strategic communications outreach to the outside world, while
tightening its grip over speech and expression within China. …