Actions speak louder
Xi’s comments to a Communist Party meeting earlier this month comes against the backdrop off Beijing’s growing isolation in the global community, fueled in this part of the world by its aggressive actions in the South China Sea, its clampdown on democracy and dissent in Hong Kong, its threats against Taiwan and its attempts last year to cover up the early spread of the coronavirus. Xi said it was crucial that China develop a stronger “international voice” which matches its national strength and global status, to present a “true, three-dimensional, and comprehensive China” to the world, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. “We should strengthen the propaganda and interpretation of the Communist Party of China, and help foreign people realize that the Communist party of China [CCP] really strives for the happiness of the Chinese people,” the report cited Xi as saying. The official English translation by Xinhua, the UK’s Guardian newspaper notes, changes “propaganda” to “publicity.” Worsening relations with the West, the Guardian adds, have resulted in tit-for-tat trade sanctions, the expulsion or intimidation of foreign journalists, and increasingly belligerent commentary from China’s “wolf warrior” diplomats, diplomats who use their platform to aggressively defend China’s policies and disparage opponents. We have experienced these attacks from Chinese officials here in Manila, who had the temerity to denounce Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as “unprofessional” for calling out China’s intrusion into Philippine waters in April. This week, the Chinese authorities again showed us that no amount of propaganda—or publicity if you will—can remove the stench of an authoritarian regime that brooks no dissent and disregards individual human rights.