Under the guise of ‘guiding public opinion’, a policy concept that dates back to the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) justifies its manipulation of information to maintain social stability and political control over China, notes Albert Zhang, an analyst in ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre.
More recently, China’s authoritarian leader, Xi Jinping, has revived the Cultural Revolution-era term ‘public opinion struggle’ and declared social media ‘the main battlefield’ because of its ability to spread values and ideas—like human rights and democracy—that are perceived as threats to the party’s political legitimacy, he writes for The Strategist:
The CCP’s efforts to shape public opinion online now go beyond simply censoring dissidents and spreading pro-government propaganda. They are more global and aggressive, often directly interfering in state sovereignty and democratic discourse and supporting the party’s broader strategic and economic goals…..ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre has published a new report entitled ‘Gaming public opinion: The CCP’s increasingly sophisticated cyber-enabled influence operations’, alongside reporting by The Washington Post which explores the growing challenge of CCP cyber-enabled influence operations conducted within democracies through social media. RTWT
Since dictators work tirelessly and in tandem to maintain their media advantage in the modern world, democracies must double down on their commitment to protect and invest in independent media, argues Ariane Gottlieb, an assistant program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies. Democracy advocates should aim to reach citizens in closed societies and support underfunded outlets. They must equip media entities and independent tech companies with the expertise and tools to resist efforts to coopt their platforms. Most critically, the world’s democracies must support and protect independent journalists in repressive settings, she writes for American Purpose.