Chi­nese pro­pa­ganda

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Adm. Gary Roug­head, the Navy’s Pa­cific Fleet com­man­der, is dis­put­ing as “pro­pa­ganda” a re­cent re­port in the of­fi­cial Chi­nese press that stated that the ad­mi­ral was ef­fu­sive in his praise for Chi­nese marines dur­ing a re­cent visit to China.

The of­fi­cial Bei­jing mil­i­tary news­pa­per PLA Daily re­ported Nov. 22 that Adm. Roug­head re­cently watched an ex­er­cise in­volv­ing Chi­nese marine box­ing skills and was re­ported to have ap­plauded and cheered. “They have such ex­cel­lent skills and good phys­i­cal strength! I am tired out just watch­ing the per­for­mance, but they are still so full of vigor!” the news­pa­per quoted Adm. Roug­head as say­ing to a Chi­nese mil­i­tary of­fi­cer “in a tone pe­cu­liar to ser­vice­men.”

Dur­ing an­other en­counter with a Chi­nese fe­male mar­tial arts spe­cial­ist, Adm. Roug­head was quoted as say­ing to one of his fe­male Navy aides, “Do you think you could beat this Chi­nese girl if you got into a fist­fight with her?” To which the fe­male of­fi­cer sup­pos­edly re­sponded, “Ha! I don’t think so.”

The news­pa­per quoted Adm. Roug­head telling an­other group of Chi­nese troops: “Your team is re­mark­able and you have left a deep im­pres­sion on me. You and the U.S. Marines have many strong points in com­mon and are both won­der­ful!”

Adm. Roug­head de­clined our re­quest for an in­ter­view.

How­ever, Capt. W. Gureck, a Pa­cific Scott Fleet spokesman, told us he “got a pretty good chuckle” out of the Chi­nese re­port.

“This story is not ac­cu­rate and I trust you know that it’s ob­vi­ously a pro­pa­ganda piece from a state-run news­pa­per,” he said in an e-mail.

The ad­mi­ral did watch the Chi­nese demon­stra­tion but “he did not stand or ap­plaud dur­ing the demo,” Capt. Gureck said.

“There was po­lite ap­plause at the end. He did say they were well-con­di­tioned and that just watch­ing the demon­stra­tion tired him out,” he said.

Capt. Gureck said Adm. Roug­head did not “gush” in his praise of the Chi­nese, and said in­stead that “po­lite would be more ac­cu­rate.”

De­fense of­fi­cials said the Chi­nese pro­pa­ganda treat­ment of the visit is typ­i­cal of how Bei­jing ex­ploits U.S. mil­i­tary ex­changes. The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is ag­gres­sive in play­ing down the threat posed by its large-scale arms buildup and seeks to show neigh­bor­ing coun­tries in Asia that the United States does not re­gard it as a threat.

Crit­ics of the ex­changes, which are be­ing pro­moted by the head of the U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand, Adm. William Fal­lon, say the pro­gram is a naive at­tempt to in­flu­ence Chi­nese mil­i­tary be­hav­ior, and they note that China has failed to re­cip­ro­cate fairly in grant­ing the kind of ac­cess to its fa­cil­i­ties that al­ready has been granted to visit­ing Chi­nese mil­i­tary per­son­nel in the United States.

Bill Gertz and Rowan Scar­bor­ough are Pen­tagon re­porters. Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at bgertz@wash­ing­ton­times.com. Mr. Scar­bor­ough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at rscar­bor­ough@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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