Discourse Power | May 26, 2022
Deep-fake it 'til you make it, ideological superpower, hymns for the New Era, and China-Iran for world peace
“Hostile forces outside the country have increased their ideological onslaught against China on the international stage by leveraging technology and their control over discourse power"
Deep-fake is becoming a more essential instrument for various destabilizing forces inside and outside China to target Chinese society, according to US historian Prof. Liu Guozhu of Zhejiang University, mandating a more cohesive response to protect China's national security.
Deep-fake, a technology that combines artificial intelligence and digital art to manipulate photographs or videos of individuals to make them look like someone else, has evolved far beyond the uncanny valley since its debut in 2017.
Anyone with Internet access can now create high-quality deep-fakes, leading to the widespread adoption of the novel technology in fields ranging from entertainment and politics to pornography and crime.
"While deep-fake 深度伪造 technology can improve human civilization in some ways," argues Prof. Liu Guozhu of Zhejiang University's Institute of World History and the Center for Non-Traditional Security and Peaceful Development Studies (NTS-PD), "it can also pose risks and challenges to national security."
In a recently published essay for the peer-reviewed Chinese Journal of International Security Studies, Liu analyzes the national security implications of the novel technology using Xi Jinping's Comprehensive National Security Concept 总体国家安全 as a guide.
”Users of the Internet and digital social platforms are increasingly exposed to deep-fake content. For example, during the current Russia-Ukraine crisis, even Chinese residents who live far from the battlefield were constantly exposed to deep-fake military and political information.
“The sheer volume and effect of these deep-fakes, as well as the speed with which they circulated around the world, has sparked alarm on various digital news platforms, serving as a wake-up call for all countries to deal with their potential risks.
“Deep-fake technologies are becoming increasingly accessible, allowing a variety of state and non-state actors to engage in otherwise complex disinformation activities, as well as making it easier and more convenient to influence the politics of other countries to the point where they can even influence their political orientation;
“state and non-state actors can also use deep-fake to disrupt the information space of other countries, triggering crises or escalating existing political or security tensions.
“The most profound influence of deep-fakes is that it creates a "liar's dividend" - a loss of confidence in interactions at all levels, from the individual to society, state, and the international community, resulting in more and more long-term hurdles to social, national, and global governance.
“China is a major Internet power, but not a powerful one. The domestic population's degree of education and online literacy varies, and in some parts of the country, there are ethnic separatist and violent terrorist forces as well as religious extremist ideologies.
“Their effects are compounded by the fact that hostile forces outside the country have increased their ideological onslaught against China on the international stage by leveraging technology and their control over discourse power.
“The cross-border nature of digital activities also means that international cooperation is required to address the national security issues raised by deep-fakes.
“The international community must renounce double standards on international security governance and advocate for more comprehensive, cooperative, and shared security concepts based on mutual respect and trust in order to jointly create a community of shared security for mankind in the digital era 数字时代人类安全的命运共同体.” (Chinese Journal of International Security Studies)
“China should do everything possible to build a healthy relationship between itself, the United States, and Latin America”
Dr. Cao Ting, Associate Professor of Latin American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, believes that as China's interests in America's backyard expand, it must be more aware of the risks posed by US meddling, while also attempting to transform Latin America into an area of major power cooperation.
China's foreign minister embarked on another diplomatic blitz last Friday, this time in Latin America, calling his counterparts in Uruguay, Nicaragua, and Ecuador and denouncing "certain countries" for using ideology to divide the international community and undermine Latin American interests.
Dr. Cao's policy recommendations, while recognizing the role of US interference, are more focused on finding common ground:
“China is the world's biggest developing country, while Latin America is one of the world's biggest developing regions. The two sides' cooperation has a solid foundation as well as plenty of room for growth, making them an important element of South-South cooperation.
“Both sides have contributed vital insights for the reconstruction of the global political and economic order, as well as important references for developing countries to help them overcome their governance challenges.
“This is especially true at a time when the world is undergoing unprecedented changes not seen in a century, the international situation is volatile and complex, major power competition is intensifying, the game between China and the US is ratcheting up, and China's external risks and challenges are growing.
“As a region with a high concentration of developing countries, Latin America is an essential force with which China can cooperate, a region on which it can rely.
“China's collaboration with Latin American countries has sparked strategic mistrust in the United States. If this mistrust is not resolved, the struggle between China and the US in Latin America will heat up as the US's "return" to the region accelerates.
“Consequently, China must pay special attention to the US component in Sino-Latin American relations and adjust its policies accordingly from a strategic standpoint.
“China should be prepared on two fronts: on the one hand, it should raise its risk awareness and be ready for more fierce competition at a higher frequency; on the other hand, it should do everything possible to build a healthy relationship between itself, the United States, and Latin America. It should encourage the normal and healthy development of Sino-American and Sino-Latin American relations.” (Aisixiang)
Academic publishing houses “must establish a Chinese discourse and narrative systems, that tell the China story well, in order to project a trustworthy, respectable, and lovable image of China”
Professor Zheng Wenli, Director of Xiamen University Press, joins other top presidents and editors-in-chief of China's largest academic publishing houses in discussing the current state and future prospects of China's publishing industry in order to serve the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.
The following are excerpts from an interview with Prof. Zheng conducted by the state-owned Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) as part of a series of interviews with other top academic publishers that was published on May 25, 2022. Note how every other sentence is a quotation or a reference to Xi Jinping:
"As an important spearhead for the dissemination of scientific research achievements of Chinese universities, academic publishers have the glorious mission of producing individuals of moral virtue and character, people who utilize culture as a transformational tool.
“The most important questions that major academic publishers must address right now are how they can stay true to our mission 坚守使命, prioritizing societal benefits while staying on the right track of innovation and seizing opportunities.
“University presses should pay particular attention to the [Two] Strategic Overalls 战略全局 of the world's unprecedented changes unseen in a century and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation;
“they must do a better job of rallying people around the flag, unifying the hearts of the people, cultivating a new man 育新人, rejuvenating the culture, and promoting our national image;
“They should endeavor to compose greater hymns for the New Era 多讴歌新时代, meeting the increasing demand for high-quality publications; they must establish a Chinese discourse and narrative systems, as they tell the China story well, in order to project a trustworthy, respectable, and lovable image of China to the rest of the world.” (CSSN)
“China should aspire not just to become an academic power, but also to become an ideological power”
CUHK-Shenzhen Professor and Director of the Qianhai Institute of International Affairs Zheng Yongnian discusses with CASS how China can become a “knowledge superpower”.
Xi Jinping is expected to score a third term as Party General Secretary at the 20th Congress, which will be convened around November. In preparation, propaganda departments all over China have been working around the clock to produce sycophantic paeans of adulation for his leadership.
Professor Zheng was interviewed this week by the China Social Science Network (CSSN), a portal run by state-led Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), as part of a series of interviews "20 questions leading up to the 20th Party Congress".
He writes that “for a country to achieve the status of a major power, it must meet modernization standards not only on a material and institutional levels, but also on an intellectual level.”
Zheng believes that China lacks soft power: “China's overall strength has grown significantly in recent years, with the advancement of Internet technology and the ability to transmit information through the media driving China into a technological powerhouse.
“However, Western media continue to stigmatize China's image in the international community. This is enabled through its extant knowledge system, rooted on Western characteristics as the foundation of their "soft power."
“Our country, on the other hand, has mostly progressed in media technologies, information dissemination, and other elements of "hard power" without a knowledge structure to back it up.
“The vast disparity between our poverty alleviation practices and knowledge base is an excellent illustration. Over the past four decades of reform and opening up, nearly 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty, with another 100 million after the 18th Party Congress, but these figures are not reflected in our academic progress and knowledge system construction.
“Two economists, Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, earned the Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on poverty alleviation. Reading their works reveals that there is still a significant gap between Chinese economists and the topics they covered.” (CSSN)
”China and Iran are the targets of US and Western persecution, containment, and weakening, whereas their shared interests are more prominent than ever. China and Iran are comprehensive strategic partners, and both should deepen their solidarity and collaboration to solve the various obstacles and challenges they face”
Wu Hailong, president of the China Public Diplomacy Association and former assistant minister at China’s foreign ministry, regards Sino-Iranian relations as an anchor of stability in a tumultuous world.
You may recall Wu lashing out at European Union ambassador Nicolas Chapuis last year for failing to understand "the basics" of Chinese diplomacy and warning of dire consequences for relations with the EU.
“Not long ago, China launched the Global Security Initiative, emphasizing that it will insist on peaceful resolution of differences and conflicts between countries through dialogue and consultation, as well as support any initiatives that promote peaceful crisis resolution.
“On the basis of adhering to a common, comprehensive, and sustainable security concept, China and Iran should work together to construct a world of lasting peace.
“Development is the most important guarantee of peace and the key to resolving a variety of issues.
“The survival and development of a country are dependent on regional peace and stability. Iran is a major regional player. Faced with a complex and volatile international landscape, China and Iran should improve cooperation and communication, as well as play a proactive role in ensuring Middle East peace and stability.
“China has been working hard to promote Middle East peace and stability, assisting Middle Eastern nations in resolving their own security challenges, and respecting and supporting regional countries in exploring political systems and development paths that best suit their own national characteristics. China, Iran, and other countries in the region all benefit from a peaceful and stable Middle East.
“The international storm has put China and Iran's relationship to the test. The two sides have been assisting each other on topics concerning their core interests, bilateral economic and trade cooperation has grown, and cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 has yielded excellent results.
“China and Iran should solidify and improve the outcomes and quality of their Belt and Road Initiative collaboration. China and Iran should build long-term and stable energy cooperation, with interconnectivity cooperation as a focal point for carrying out and implementing infrastructure projects.
“The two sides should expand financial collaboration to avoid Western countries interfering in Sino-Iranian financial cooperation, as well as actively research and develop new financial cooperation models.
“China and Iran have inked a 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement that has enriched and reinforced their comprehensive strategic partnership, and both parties should work tirelessly to put the agreement into effect. Iran's nuclear accord is of immediate concern to the country, as well as a subject of regional security and stability.
“China has played an active role in continuing compliance negotiations and resolving and bridging issues between the parties over the years. China has always been on the right side of history, vigorously promoting the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue and contributing to global peace and stability.
“The bilateral relationship will undoubtedly reach a new level if China and Iran can work together and cooperate closely, providing greater stability to a tumultuous world.” (Taihe Institute)
Playing in the Background
Kendrick Lamar, the grandmaster of Discourse Power, has given us a really unnerving display of deep-fake in his recent track The Heart Part 5 (explicit language):
Discourse Power is written by Tuvia Gering, a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and a Krauthammer Fellow, specializing in Chinese security and foreign policy, and emergency and disaster management. Any views expressed in this newsletter, as well as any errors, are solely those of the author.
Follow Tuvia on Twitter @GeringTuvia