Information Warfare: Correct Thinking in the Chinese Army

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December 14, 2007: About half the troops in the Chinese army believe there is going to be a war between China and Taiwan. At least this is the case in units that have undergone a new education program. China, like all communist states, has a policy of indoctrinating their soldiers with "correct thinking." This extends to, in effect, replacing the chaplains with political officers. Their job is to watch out for disloyalty, and supervise the indoctrination (referred to as a "mental training.") Such programs are nothing new in China, but new techniques have been developed that are supposed to be more effective in getting the official message across, and accepted. The new training also makes more troops willing to turn in fellow soldiers suspected of espionage or "incorrect thought."

All this is nothing new. Since antiquity, the most effective commanders saw to it that their troops believed strongly in why they were fighting. This comes down to us in references to generals who were good public speakers, particularly when it came to rousing their troops to do their best in battle. During World War II, and since, the United States has had information programs that attempt to get all the troops to understand what's at stake. These efforts have become more difficult since the 1960s, when television, and later the Internet, provided more powerful platforms, that often delivered contrary messages. This is what China is most intent on counteracting.

 


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