War of Words

China’s Foreign Ministry parrots Party ‘newspeak’ line

Beijing’s plan is a massive disinformation campaign orchestrated by the Communist Party

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian obviously has a problem with the definition of “democracy.” He is not alone.

As China’s ruling Communist Party pushes back against the United States and its allies, “newspeak” echoes around the corridors of power in Beijing.

It also gushes from state-run media and government officials in a move to prop up the nation’s authoritarian red wall.

“I want to stress that democracy is a common value shared by all, not a patent owned by any country,” Zhao told a regular media briefing when asked about US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s comments during a visit to the world’s largest democracy.

His trip to New Dehli earlier this week was seen as a move to deepen ties between India and the United States amid concerns of China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region. 

For Beijing, it was another opportunity to roll out its version of “democracy.”

“‘One-man, one-vote’ and a multi-party system is not the sole form of democracy,” Zhao pointed out as if reading from the pages of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Still, in case there is a problem understanding the concept of the word, below is the Oxford Dictionary rendition of “democracy”:

“A system of government in which all the people of a country can vote to elect their representatives.”

China’s political landscape revolves around what is in effect a one-party state. Since the CCP took power by force in 1949, it has never held free and open elections.

The Party, put simply, has no mandate from the people through the ballot box.

What was said:

  • The US has made no secret of its desire for India’s help in isolating China.
  • The two democracies have ramped up their military relationship after signing a series of defense deals.
  • Both nations are part of the Quad regional alliance.
  • It also includes Japan and Australia.
  • China has called the Quad an attempt to contain its global ambitions.

One and one make two: “There are few relationships in the world that are more vital than [the] one between the US and India. We are the world’s two leading democracies and our diversity fuels our national strength,” Blinken said at a joint news conference.

Warning shot: “We believe that all people deserve to have a voice in their government, to be treated with respect,” Blinken pointed out amid allegations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has discriminated against Muslims and other minorities.

Smear campaign: “Democracy should not be used as a tool to smear other countries or stoke confrontations. Which country is a democracy and which an autocracy should not be determined by a very small number of countries,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao said.

Big picture: Hardline rhetoric emanating from the heart of the CCP is destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region and fueling hostility with the US. The biggest rift erupted in 2019 after Washington condemned Beijing for human rights abuses against ethnic Muslims in Xinjiang.

Major flashpoints: The crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and the threat to invade the island democracy of Taiwan are other issues of concern. So, is cyber theft and rising tension in the South and East China Seas.

China Factor comment: President Xi Jinping’s administration is desperate to push its own ideological model around the world. Part of the plan is a massive disinformation campaign orchestrated by state media and funded by the Communist Party of China.

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