The Indian education system inculcates among our young a touching tradition of accepting hand-me-downs. Whether it is the elder sibling’s books and clothes or western notions of ‘cool’, the young receive second-hand stuff unquestioningly. Okay, maybe the old books and clothes a little grudgingly sometimes.
This is why our alarms should have gone off when in 2015 a Gallup poll found that nearly 70 percent of American millennials, suckled on the teats of a free-market economy and great democratic freedom, said they would be happy to vote for a socialist presidential candidate.
Then in 2020, a poll conducted before the presidential election by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that barely half of the millennials were fine with socialism. Besides, 36 percent of millennials and 25 percent Gen Z-ers had a favourable view of Communism.
These are generations born after tens of millions were killed by Lenin’s de-Cossackisation and famines, Stalin’s stone-cold gulags, Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’, Castro and Guevara’s execution camps, Pol Pot’s killing fields of Cambodia, Kim Jong’s Juche tyranny in North Korea, Ceausescu’s Timisoara killings, or Bengal’s Marichjhapi massacre. For these western youngsters, Communism suddenly became “cool”. How could their urban, English-speaking Indian counterparts not follow?
Elders in the West were bewildered. But they still failed to see the big picture staring at them: China was no longer satisfied being the new, rising economic and military superpower. It wanted more. It sought cultural dominance too, and a collapse of faith in democracies.
Unnoticed by most, using the very democratic foundations of free speech, China infiltrated US campuses and newsrooms. It then slowly started working on the minds of newer generations, feeding them with lies, window-dressing the most murderous ideologies to make them look desirable to youngsters, propping up opinion-makers in colleges, newspapers and channels who were on its payroll.
“Reuters establishes a new round of internal vetting on stories about human rights in China after its English and Chinese websites are blocked. Radio stations in 15 US cities broadcast content provided by Chinese state-run media. Tech giant Apple removes the New York Times’ mobile-phone applications from its download store in China with little explanation. And several rounds of crippling cyberattacks hit the New York-based servers of New Tang Dynasty Television and The Epoch Times newspaper’s websites,” reads Freedom House’s senior research analyst Sarah Cook’s 2017 testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission titled, ‘Chinese government influence on US media landscape’.
She exposed how the Communist Party of China (CCP) was pumping in money to advertise Xinhua at Times Square, or selling China Daily in major US cities. It is also seeping in state media content in the US mainstream media by its policy of “borrowing the boat to reach the sea”.
“Chinese diplomats and other officials have gone to great lengths to develop ‘friendly’ relations with private media owners and reporters, encouraging them to produce their own content that promotes key narratives favoured by Beijing. Media owners whose reporting portrays Beijing positively are frequently rewarded with advertising, lucrative contracts for non-media enterprises, joint ventures, and even political appointments,” wrote Cook. “Chinese state media have also purchased small financial stakes in overseas media to solidify such a relationship.”
This frightening penetration of a totalitarian state into the minds of welcoming democracies does not stop at manipulating the media. China sows its dark seeds in the nurseries of knowledge too: West’s campuses.
The China-funded Confucius Institutes are a clutch of educational bodies to teach Chinese language, culture, and history mainly in foreign lands. But its real intent is much less noble.
In 2018, Politico reported: “A 2011 speech by a standing member of the Politburo in Beijing laid out the case: ‘The Confucius Institute is an appealing brand for expanding our culture abroad,’ Li Changchun said. ‘It has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power. The ‘Confucius’ brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical."
Li was right. Confucius Institutes have come up at more than 500 college campuses worldwide, with more than 100 of them in the US — including at The George Washington University, the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa.
“Overseen by a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education known colloquially as Hanban, the institutes are part of a broader propaganda initiative that the Chinese government is pumping an estimated $10 billion into annually, and they have only been bolstered by growing interest in China among American college students,” the Politico report said.
If China can creep its way into injecting its dark ideology in the world’s most powerful democracy, it is difficult to believe that it has not compromised India’s own political, academic and media ecosystems.
Prominent politicians like Rahul Gandhi have repeatedly spoken China’s language, praised it, met with Chinese officials in the heat of Doklam or Galwan hostilities with their own nation, India. The Congress is yet to divulge the contents of a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding it signed with the CCP when its UPA government was in power.
Prominent news organisations have carried China’s official advertorials at the peak of a national conflict. Many campuses have been hotbeds of Maoist activity. Freshly minted ‘wokes’ are out to cancel everybody and every idea they disagree with, including their own parents.
It all fits into China’s ‘unrestricted warfare’. Engineer disaffection towards democracy so that the young undermine the very freedoms they have grown up on. Kill family values while keeping the same values intact in China. Push societies towards anarchy while making the young feel that they are changing the world.
And finally, to make Communism look tempting, like China-made products that break and shatter your peace when you start using those.
(This is the second of a three-part series on the truth of Communism and socialism, as these are sold to Gen Z and millennials. To read the first part, click here)