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Context From The Talk

Larry Diamond On Countering Chinese Propaganda With Truth

Truth is the best propaganda.

We can’t just sit back passively and say “we’ll wage this battle” with one arm tied behind our back when they have all four limbs to run with. And that means if our media companies, our television companies, this is my own opinion and I feel it very strongly, if we can’t get our cable television channels to be able to broadcast to the Chinese public, why should China global television have access to our cable television airways? That’s not obvious to me. If our scholars and journalists are increasingly being threatened with visa denials, if they say or write something critical of Xi Jinping or the Chinese Communist Party Leadership, why should they continue to have unfettered access in the other direction?

These are some of the ways that I think we will never eliminate the asymmetry but I think we can narrow it and fight back. It’s asymmetrical in both directions because we have an intrinsic advantage here that they don’t have. And that is, I feel this very deeply, the truth is on our side. If we can mobilize it and broadcast it and penetrate it, then we can counter the lying narratives against it around the world. Edward R. Murrow, John F. Kennedy’s founding director of the U.S. Information Agency, had a very good line. He said “The truth is the best propaganda, and lies are the worst. Because lies eventually can be exposed, but we need to expose them.”

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