*WE ARE NOW IN THE ‘POST-TRUTH ERA’ – when public opinion is shaped not by facts but by emotions. 我們現在處於“後真相時代” – 公眾輿論不是由事實而是由情緒塑造的。”It no longer matters what is true or false – what matters is who controls the discourse, said prominent Chinese political scientist Yuan Peng.
The degree of Sinophobia increased in direct proportion to China’s growing economic power. Confucius Institutes were perceived exclusively as breeding grounds for Chinese propaganda. Even a public relations event as obviously successful as the 2008 Summer Olympics was accompanied by loud accusations of human rights abuses and speeches in support of Tibetan separatists.
“Whoever controls the discourse controls the power,” Chinese intellectuals began to write, creatively modifying Foucault’s ideas to suit the political demand.
And soon these theoretical findings emerged from the offices of scholars and became the informational basis of Beijing’s new foreign policy – focusing on the ‘great renaissance of the Chinese nation’. The active position of Chinese diplomats and experts in social media (so-called ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’), the promotion of their terminology in various international platforms – all this is part of the ‘discursive power’ that is being developed by Beijing.
’DISCURSIVE POWER? A surprising new weapon at the dawn of the new information war.
Knowledge and information are the new weapons of the new world – since they shape the EMOTIONS of their public. Look for example at how the young in HK were weaponized against their own home even though they had more freedom and peace than many in the West. Those who can guide these feelings in the right direction are the ones who shape the information agenda. **The emotions that are generated have become the ‘discourse’. This concept, born among French poststructuralist philosophers (primarily Michel Foucault) in the mid-twentieth century, has found itself at the core of global politics in the early twenty-first century.
The phenomenon of ‘discursive power’ in China has not remained unnoticed by experts on the country. The Institute of International Studies of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) has also published an analytical report titled ‘From Soft Power to Discursive Power: The New Ideology of China’s Foreign Policy’, which provides a comprehensive assessment of this phenomenon and makes predictions for the future.
According to its findings, struggles around discourse are part of the hybrid confrontation that is already taking place on a global scale. China’s main goal is to counter the ‘discursive hegemony’ of the West, without overthrowing it, because Beijing needs the structure to build constructive relations with other countries. As a result, an alternative discursive reality to the West will gradually be created and most countries of the world will find themselves in the horns of a dilemma in choosing which point of view to adopt. Most importantly, ‘discursive power’ in Chinese interpretations is not limited to the written word – technological, financial and managerial standards are also part of it. Which, of course, means a new divide awaits the planet.
Such is the wondrous new world – the world of post-truth and ‘discursive multipolarity.’