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International Herald Tribune, France

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Internet 'Muckraking Frenzy' Damaging China's Global Interests (Huanqiu, People's Republic of China)

 

Is social networking undermining nationalism and patriotism in China? Furthermore, is the failure of China's government to coordinate with and influence research institutions and media at the root of the problem? According to this editorial from China's state-run Huanqiu, nearly simultaneous charges by cyber-security company Mandiant and the White House that China's military is mounting hacking attacks on U.S. institutions show that when it comes to stage-managing apparently 'independent' media, NGOs and research institutions in confronting the nation's adversaries, America's government does a much better job than China's.

 

EDITORIAL

 

Translated By John Chen

 

February 22, 2013

 

People’s Republic of China – Huanqiu – Original Article (Chinese)

According to U.S. cyber research company Mandiant, this nondescript Shanghai building houses 'Unit 61398', a secretive Chinese military unit that has been hacking U.S. enterprises and governemnt agencies. Beijing denies the charges, but admires what it sees as a well-coordinated public relations attack by Mandiant and the White House.

 

BBC NEWS VIDEO: China army unit 'behind prolific hacking', Feb. 18, 00:01:40RealVideo

On Feb. 20, the White House issued a 141-page strategy paper outlining strict aimed at cracking down on the growing problem of international theft of U.S. trade secrets. The was published after U.S. cyber-security company Mandiant accused the Chinese military of participating in hacking attacks on U.S. networks. Although the White House paper doesn't focus on any particular country, U.S. media report that China is the primary target.

 

This is another outstanding example of the U.S. government and non-governmental organizations joining forces to target China. In its 60-page, February 18th report, Mandiant offered a detailed "behind the scenes" description of the so-called attacks by the Chinese military, and just two days later, the White House came out with a similar report. Does this seem like a coincidence?

 

The apparent coordination among U.S. non-governmental organizations, media, and government came as something of a surprise. In the United States, research institutions are said to be "free" and the media completely "ndependent." Yet this time, it appears that public institutions have been carefully stage-managed to pave the way for government policies. In the name of American national interests, the U.S. government and related agencies are writing and directing these theatrical productions aimed at powers like China, with the stage filled with "extras."

 

Perhaps we shouldn't criticize this cooperation of forces in the U.S. There is nothing wrong in people uniting to safeguard from, what their point of view, is the national interest. But it is a lesson China should learn from.

 

Can today's China do what the United States has done here, uniting government agencies and public institutions in a diplomatic dispute? Probably not. Chinese authorities lack experience interacting with the public, especially media, when formulating major policies. China's government sector almost never takes the initiative to reveal sensitive information to the media. When disputes with foreign countries occur, initial reports come almost entirely from abroad.

 

 

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At the moment, Chinese media, particularly the Internet, lacks any clear-cut safeguards for China's national interests. Many people, in the midst of a "muckraking frenzy," damage confidence in the government and public officials, which also reduces support for China's government during foreign disputes. Even patriotism is questioned and mocked, and among some circles, "universal values" have become fashionable. Particularly when it comes to the problem of cyber security, China's people are split, and some even support the position of the United States and the West.

 

In fact, because of the lack of cooperation between official and public agencies as exists in the West, China acts clumsily in its disputes with outside parties. To guard the national interest, China relies primarily in hard power, and doesn't know where to begin when it comes to soft power. In China there are 1.3 billion voices debating incessantly, and when there is friction with the United States, China mainly relies on fragmented official statements and diplomatic cliché. Meanwhile, the Chinese public only has access to tidbits of information and acts as onlookers.

 

 

This is a situation that has to change, otherwise China risks being mocked on the global stage as a dim-witted giant. Western verbal attacks not only damage China's international image, but the embarrassment and humiliation could undermine the confidence of Chinese society, and cause some people to question the credibility of the government's domestic policy.

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Key government agencies must change their way of thinking in order to mobilize the public to cooperate with the formulation of government policies, struggles with foreign entities and decision-making. The government must be more collaborative about mobilizing social forces to maintain enthusiasm for Chinese national interests and create fresh opportunities to put patriotism into practice. When important issues arise, informed and experienced officials must foster the cooperation of the people and united people across the country.

 

China's opening up to the world is comprehensive, and some government departments simply cannot cope with conflicts with other countries and the unpredictable nature of such situations. Without encouraging Chinese social forces to engage in widespread mass communication with the world, China's voice during this critically-important time will not be heard.

 

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Posted By Worldmeets.US Feb. 22, 2013, 10:40am