Enter the lamb warriors

“Liberal media can try to point out China’s own poor record on racial equality and religious freedom, but this can be dismissed as whataboutism.”

The propaganda battle between the United States and China will be reminiscent of the Cold War decades ago, except that this time, liberal media will be weaker and more divided.

Patriotic Chinese citizens will draw encouragement from how America’s woke generation is putting traditional liberals on the defensive. Embarrassed by the unsophisticated methods of the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department and wolf warrior diplomats, young Chinese will construct a new soft power rhetorical strategy around the language of victimhood and social justice. When American commentators point fingers at China’s lack of democracy and human rights, the new lamb warriors will simply ask the Americans to check their white privilege and cease with the micro-aggressions.

They will remind the world how the West crushed their forefathers in a Century of Humiliation, and how racism continues to rob Chinese of their dignity. They will declare that Americans cannot speak for global justice and human rights, because as citizens of a superpower, they lack the lived experience of intersecting oppression. Liberal media can try to point out China’s own poor record on racial equality and religious freedom, but this will be dismissed as whataboutism.

Anyway, a post-truth world is quite comfortable with moral contradictions, so the lamb warrior strategy should be enough to throw liberal media off-balance until 2022.

Cherian George is professor of media studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

The propaganda battle between the United States and China will be reminiscent of the Cold War decades ago, except that this time, liberal media will be weaker and more divided.

Patriotic Chinese citizens will draw encouragement from how America’s woke generation is putting traditional liberals on the defensive. Embarrassed by the unsophisticated methods of the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department and wolf warrior diplomats, young Chinese will construct a new soft power rhetorical strategy around the language of victimhood and social justice. When American commentators point fingers at China’s lack of democracy and human rights, the new lamb warriors will simply ask the Americans to check their white privilege and cease with the micro-aggressions.

They will remind the world how the West crushed their forefathers in a Century of Humiliation, and how racism continues to rob Chinese of their dignity. They will declare that Americans cannot speak for global justice and human rights, because as citizens of a superpower, they lack the lived experience of intersecting oppression. Liberal media can try to point out China’s own poor record on racial equality and religious freedom, but this will be dismissed as whataboutism.

Anyway, a post-truth world is quite comfortable with moral contradictions, so the lamb warrior strategy should be enough to throw liberal media off-balance until 2022.

Cherian George is professor of media studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

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