Total Media Monopoly
The Effective and Successful Manipulation of Even the
Most Critical and Skeptical Opponents of the Chinese Party/State
by Clive Ansley
I lived and worked in China for fourteen years and from 1999 to 2003 I observed firsthand the vicious campaign of vilification and demonization unleashed by the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”) and its then General Secretary, Jiang Zemin. In those early days, no one could possibly have contemplated or foreseen the nightmarish and diabolical designs that Jiang and a small fiendish cabal surrounding him were fashioning as a “final solution” to the threat they attributed to the peaceful practitioners of Falun Gong.
Today, the reality of the mass murder and organ pillaging from the practitioners of Falun Gong by the CCP cannot be questioned. The massive evidence from unimpeachable sources compels us to take the Slaughter as a given. But looking back, what is there about the Chinese political system, which might possibly account for the fact that since 1999 an atrocity, which in some ways dwarfs the atrocities committed by the Third Reich, has continued unabated in China?
How did this come about? What made it possible? With the benefit of hindsight, it seems clear that the astonishing and hysterical campaign of hatred and vitriol released against Falun Gong by Jiang Zemin was intended to numb the sensibilities of those who would be called upon to commit the cruelest atrocities and tortures against their fellow man in the name of heroic struggle against an “evil cult” (Not the Chinese Communist Party, but another alleged “evil cult”!).
Juxtaposing a distinguishing feature of both Nazi Germany and today’s China—a once civil and rational society becoming overrun by “a ruthless political party … careful to hide its criminal activities from [the] public eye”—the Judgment of an Israeli Ecclesiastical Court noted the eerily similar way both persecutions have been received by the world community.(1)
The Goebbels theory of the “Big Lie” is too well known to warrant elaboration. Tell it often enough and make it big enough and people will believe it. The Third Reich made full use of this principle in its demonization of the Jews. They succeeded in portraying the Jews as a kind of sub-species, not quite human, and a dangerous threat to German society.
This is what I witnessed the CCP do to the Falun Gong. It should surprise no one that the models for many CCP policies and campaigns are to be found in Nazi Germany. The so-called “Communist” Party of China is communist in name only. In reality, it perfectly conforms to the classical definition of fascism.
The campaign I witnessed unfolding against the Falun Gong in those early years of the persecution even then reminded me daily of the Nazi demonization of the Jews. But I could never have foreseen the horrific revelations to come.
Ironically, the massive media vilification of Falun Gong in those days regularly falsely accused Falun Gong practitioners of the very kinds of inhuman and obscene crimes we now know the CCP continues to perpetrate against Falun Gong practitioners, human rights lawyers, dissidents, Christians, Uighurs, and Tibetans.
It was Jiang Zemin who at the very beginning of the persecution coined the characterization of Falun Gong as an “evil cult”. In order to fan the flames of hatred against this latest group in a long line of victims targeted by the CCP over the course of its history, the CCP published stories of Falun Gong practitioners killing their children, even going so far as to claim that the practitioners actually ate their children!
The inflammatory horror stories and fairy tales carried daily in the print and television media in those early years gave visceral shape and content to the growing personification of the “evil cult” whose image the CCP was manufacturing and disseminating.
A story widely covered in the Chinese media involved an individual who had put rat poison in the noodles at a popular restaurant in Nanjing. Forty-two people had died. These murders were attributed to the teachings of Falun Gong. Though I knew nothing about Falun Gong at that time, I did not believe this story for an instant. For one thing, I got the very strong impression that saddling Falun Gong with responsibility for this mass murder had been essentially an afterthought on the part of the Chinese authorities. The “trial” of the alleged murderer had been well-publicized and there had been no mention of Falun Gong in the coverage of that event. But as he was being taken away for execution, the media seemed to be adding the message that “By the way, he was a Falun Gong practitioner.” I remember clearly that most of the story had already unfolded before any allegation of a Falun Gong link had been crafted.
In these early days, it seems I never saw any media report not filled with savage hatred directed against Falun Gong, usually accompanied by tales of diabolical and inhuman practices allegedly resulting from the study of Falun Gong.
Again, though I had no knowledge of Falun Gong during the early years of the persecution, I was highly skeptical of the CCP’s accusations. The Falun Gong victims of the CCP defamation were, of course, denied any forum through which to answer the accusations against them. But I know from long personal experience that China under the CCP is based on institutional lying. This is true to the point that lying by CCP leaders, party and government organs, and spokespersons is virtually pathological. They are incapable of speaking the truth, even when the truth is not harmful to them. The CCP lies on general principles, even when there is no reason to hide the truth. A joke so widespread in China that it has become a cliché holds that “The only true statement in the People’s Daily is the date.” So I was a skeptic.
Why was it possible for the CCP to sell the “Big Lie” to so many of the Chinese citizenry?
This is not a simple question. It is a puzzling one, precisely because of the seemingly overwhelming lack of credibility from which the CCP suffers in the eyes of most Chinese. The CCP is widely hated in China for many reasons. And quite aside from hatred, it is widely understood to lack any semblance of credibility. So how does it happen that the CCP can continually launch persecutions against supposed pariahs and cause much of the Chinese population to fall into line?
The observation that China is a complex and multi-faceted society is a hackneyed one. But it is fundamental to understanding the seemingly inexplicable contradiction between the widespread disrespect for and fear of the CCP on the one hand, and the repeated successes the CCP enjoys on the other hand with so many of its propaganda campaigns.
I believe we can identify at least some of the factors giving rise to these puzzling contradictions. First, like all fascist states, China profits hugely by skillfully catering to jingoism and nationalism. Creating imaginary threats to the nation, both external and internal, is a tried and tested method. The history of imperialist aggression and predation in China by western powers has produced a rather schizoid attitude toward those western powers. The CCP has been remarkably successful in harnessing China’s wounded pride, which persists as a corrosive legacy of her victimization by the imperialist invaders during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Chinese who detest the CCP regularly rally behind its leaders to support anti-American demonstrations or territorial claims against Tibet, Taiwan, and virtually any island in the East or South China Seas.
Similarly, with respect to domestic issues I knew many individuals who regularly ridiculed the CCP for habitual lying, yet swallowed the party line on particular issues, without blinking.
Close to 100% of Chinese citizens, for example, appear to support capital punishment. When I argued against it on the basis that execution of the innocent is inevitable, I was almost always greeted with incredulity. Typically, I was told that no one on trial for a capital crime in China was innocent, because the Chinese police would never charge anyone who was not guilty. But the very people making this argument were often the most strident critics of the CCP and the entire Chinese system! They were the very people who most often attacked the credibility of the CCP, yet the fact that the CCP exercises micro-management over both the police and the courts apparently never occurred to them.
Almost all lawyers with whom I worked in China regularly invoked the joke about the date being the only truth in the People’s Daily. But I vividly remember discussing with one such lawyer the story of an alleged Falun Gong follower killing her two children. At that time, knowing nothing of Falun Gong, I did not argue that the story was necessarily false. I simply questioned why we should believe it, given the source.
The discussion had been sparked by a comment from this lawyer that Falun Gong practitioners were “terrible people”. I asked him why he was so sure of this. He responded with the example of a double infanticide by a Falun Gong mother. “But”, I asked him, “How do you know that that is true, that it really happened?” He responded that he had just watched a full television newscast about the killing the previous evening (as had I!). I then reminded him of who controls China Central Television (“CCTV”). He is a person who had regularly argued that no one should believe anything they see in the CCP media; yet now he was insisting to me that Falun Gong is clearly evil and basing his argument on a television program passed by the censors of the CCP’s Central Propaganda Unit, at a time when the CCP was mounting another massive campaign against yet another alleged “enemy of the people”.
I had a similar discussion with another CCP critic and skeptic over the alleged restaurant poisoner in Nanjing. Again, this lady was angrily denouncing the Falun Gong after having read in the newspapers and seen on television the claims that the person to be executed had been a Falun Gong practitioner and had committed his crimes as a result of the practice.
When five alleged Falun Gong practitioners apparently attempted a group suicide by self-immolation in Tiananmen Square, the event received saturation coverage in both the print and TV media. It was very effective. My observation at the time was that most Chinese who saw the stories were disgusted with Falun Gong as a result.
Even I accepted the “fact” that these self-immolations had occurred and that the news coverage was legitimate. Unlike almost all other anti-Falun Gong stories I had seen, this one carried live footage and I witnessed the horrifying event “with my own eyes”. It did not turn me against Falun Gong, for several reasons, but I never at the time entertained any doubt that the event was real and the media coverage genuine. Only several years later did I have the opportunity to view compelling evidence that the entire event had been a hoax staged by the Beijing police.
Everyone familiar with the persecution of Falun Gong now knows what really happened. The film footage was genuine, but what it covered was not. The five who doused themselves with gasoline and set themselves on fire were clearly shown not to be Falun Gong practitioners; every one of the five “protesters” had police standing behind them with fire extinguishers ready to use within seconds; and the clothing of all five was visibly bulked up with what now appear to have been fire retardant materials. Also later came the realization that the nearest fire extinguishers would ordinarily be far removed from the center of Tiananmen Square. There is no way that ten police officers could have reached the demonstration with fire extinguishers in time to douse the flames, unless the whole exercise had been staged and pre-planned.
But we did not think of those things at the time. I did not argue back then that the event had been staged. My arguments with Chinese lawyers and others were limited to the observation first, that every organization and movement attracts some extremists and we do not condemn Christianity when some unbalanced mother in the U.S. drowns her five children in the bathtub because “Jesus told me to do it”; second, this act could have been a reflection of the utter desperation felt by people driven over the edge by the persecution; third, similar self-immolations by Buddhist monks in Vietnam in the early 1960’s and more recently in Tibet have been hailed as acts of incredible heroism and self- sacrifice.
One lesson we have learned from the persecution in China, and from the media campaigns which have facilitated that persecution is this: Even a people who have purportedly learned to place no credibility on anything carried by their state monopolized media can still be repeatedly duped and manipulated by that same media in certain instances. If the “Big Lie” is repeated without respite; if the monopoly of the media is absolute so that no response by the accused is possible; if a jingoistic appeal to national pride is carried incessantly or fears of either external or internal enemies are exploited; then even a populace which considers itself too sophisticated to be taken in by the state propaganda organs will in fact be so taken in, time and time again.
Westerners must try to imagine the effects on a population when 100% of their print and broadcast media are subject to a total monopoly of all information. Citizens develop an overall and general cynicism, but are prone to being repeatedly deceived about specific issues or events which are presented to them from only one monotone viewpoint. The persecution of Falun Gong over the past fifteen years is an excellent case in point.
Our Western media is also very venal in many ways. Certainly, individual media organs in Canada and the U.S. represent special vested interests and weight their news coverage to benefit those special vested interests. But the absence of an absolute monopoly over the media, and especially the absence of a state monopoly, means the object of any character assassination normally can find a way to reply and get an opposing view into the public eye.
We must never underestimate the power of even a widely disrespected propaganda machine, when it is the only available source of information or opinion. There were undoubtedly neighbors who knew that the accused mother was not a Falun Gong practitioner or even that she did not kill her children. Any Falun Gong practitioners could have told any media interviewer that nothing in the teachings of Falun Gong sanctions any kind of killing. Undoubtedly there were people in Nanjing who could have provided evidence that the mass poisoner there had never been a Falun Gong practitioner. Falun Gong practitioners could easily have pointed out that no practitioner ever adopts the sitting position of the alleged self-immolators in Tiananmen Square.
But how would anyone have pointed out any of these things? How would anyone have placed an alternate theory before the public? There was no possible avenue open to them. They could not have letters to the editor published; they could not write opinion pieces for the op-ed page; they could not give interviews on television news programs. They could not even rally in public with placards. Only one voice was ever heard. When this one singular view on any issue is repeated ad nauseam, day in and day out, and no dissenting voice is ever heard, no reply is ever forthcoming, then the very people who have counseled us never to believe anything from the CCP media begin to believe the message in spite of themselves.
When Falun Gong practitioners were accused, they had no forum in which to respond. Whether guilty as charged or victims of vicious defamation, the response of the Falun Gong practitioners never reached the Chinese public.
Moreover, in the early years of the persecution, citizens were not left to passively imbibe and ingest the CCP hate campaign against Falun Gong. The many media accounts at the time of mass rallies to denounce the practice and make public criticisms of practitioners was hauntingly reminiscent of earlier historical precedents such as the anti-landlord campaigns, the anti-Rightist campaigns, the Cultural Revolution, the anti-Confucius and Anti- Lin Biao campaigns. Such campaigns have always been designed to help the CCP transform passive readers or listeners into active participants in the hate campaign of the day.
Actual physical participation in persecution seems to be very effective psychologically. The participant is taken to a higher stage of commitment because of his or her own complicity. During the Cultural Revolution it was not uncommon for wives to take part in the public condemnation and severe beating of their own husbands, in order to demonstrate their own political purity and loyalty to the movement. Both in that period and in the course of the persecution against the Falun Gong, actual participation has served to some extent as a protection against becoming a target of the campaign.
Public denunciations and arbitrary beatings by police, forfeitures of property and bank accounts, employers being forced to fire anyone identified as a practitioner of Falun Gong, routine and arbitrary “administrative” detentions and imprisonment of practitioners, all these things served to reinforce the tacit acceptance that practitioners of Falun Gong were somehow “not quite human” and need not be accorded the basic respect to which human beings are normally entitled. All these things have played a role in rendering Chinese police, paramilitary, medical personnel, and prison guards amenable to committing murder, diabolical torture, and the most gruesome crimes against humanity the world has seen since the Holocaust. I refer of course to the mass murder of healthy human beings, kept alive in donor herds, to be slaughtered on demand so their organs can be sold by the state at huge profits.
We must remember that the Chinese population as a whole has never been told about the atrocious and inhuman crimes the CCP has perpetrated against the practitioners of Falun Gong, just as the Nazis never publicly acknowledged the Death Camps. The function of the dehumanization and demonization campaigns against both the Jews and the Falun Gong practitioners did not in either case involve the public as a whole; it rather served to anesthetize the agents of the state who would be enlisted to actually commit the atrocities. The screams of the victims tend to fall on deaf ears when the perpetrators of the atrocities can rationalize that the dying victims are, after all, “only Jews”, or only “members of an evil cult”.
The success of this campaign to dehumanize Falun Gong practitioners is perhaps nowhere better exemplified than in the co-opting of the country’s medical profession. Outside of contemporary China and Nazi Germany, who could ever conceive of a medical profession whose members actually willingly take part in the routine murder of healthy human beings who have never been condemned even by a Chinese “court”, let alone a real court? Outside of Germany in the 1930’s and contemporary China, who could conceive of “murder committees” comprised jointly of doctors in transplant hospitals and “judges” in Chinese criminal “courts” who cooperate in arranging for the killing of compatible “donors” in order to supply fresh organs to waiting wealthy customers? But that is the reality of the medical profession in China today. Would this be possible in the absence of the concerted campaign by the CCP to de-humanize the adherents of Falun Gong? It is doubtful.
China, as anyone who is familiar with the country can attest, is not a state subject to “rule of law”. The law is whatever the tyrant of the day says it is. Falun Gong was declared an “evil cult” and made eligible for “prosecution” through the vehicle of a simple edict from Jiang Zemin. Yet, there was and is no section of the Chinese Criminal Code which could be stretched under any legitimate legal regime so as to apply to Falun Gong. Even if there were, the “courts” were never asked to interpret the law and hear evidence. The oligarch of the hour simply declared all practitioners guilty and proceeded with the persecution.
Surely the very existence of mass murder for organ pillage, as an ongoing atrocity, renders ludicrous any pretensions that China is a country ruled by law. Yet, the CCP since 1979 has made every effort to promote the appearance of a bona fide legal system, just as did the Nazis during the era of the Third Reich. It is crucially important to oppressors in totalitarian states that they are able to point to the apparent form of a legal system and claim that all their actions are rooted in law.
The most telling facts exposing the truly fraudulent nature of the Chinese “legal system” are that the Chinese “courts” are forbidden by the CCP from accepting any lawsuits from Falun Gong practitioners contesting their loss of constitutional rights, and all Chinese lawyers are forbidden to undertake legal representation of any Falun Gong practitioners.
The patently false representation that China is a state governed by the “rule of law” and that Chinese “courts” are independent has served as an essential tool in the cultivation of respect for China abroad. This tool has been employed widely both by the CCP itself and by its handmaidens in those Western governments heavily tilted toward the CCP.
Two previous Canadian Prime Ministers, both close friends of the CCP leaders responsible for the worst of China’s human rights abuses, routinely trumpeted the alleged “legal reforms” which they falsely claimed, to Canadian citizens, were unfolding in China. In the third year of the persecution, Jean Chretien stood shoulder to shoulder with Jiang Zemin and extolled the “…tremendous advances in human rights which have taken place over the last ten years under the leadership of President Jiang. “His successor, Paul Martin, did not go to quite such ridiculous lengths, but continued to praise China’s alleged progress in human rights and its commitment to implementing the “rule of law”. Neither has ever addressed the fundamental truth that both in theory and in practice, the CCP ranks above the law and exercises total control over all organs of the legal system, including police, prosecutors, “courts”, and interpretation of statutes.
China can have a “legal” system controlled by the CCP or it can have the “rule of law”; it is conceptually impossible to have both.
So long as the CCP maintains the external form and structure of a genuine legal system, it enables the Chretiens and Martins of the West to ignore the substance of the system and continue their misrepresentations to their citizens about the alleged steady progress in advancing the “rule of law” in China.
So long as the CCP remains in power, it is difficult to imagine the persecution and the forced organ harvesting coming to an end any time soon. But for this to happen, it is necessary to make the existence of these crimes fully known to the Chinese people and to the people of the world.
 Judgment of the Ecclesiastical Sanhedrin Court in Jerusalem, July 15, 2008