China Prepares for Psychological Warfare

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The recent unveiling of China’s new PSYOP (Psychological Operations) aircraft, the Gaoxin-7(高新七号), marks an important step forward for People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) psychological warfare capabilities.

Based on a Y-8 airframe (similar to the U.S. Military’s C-130), the Gaoxin-7’s primary mission is to conduct PSYOP missions against enemy forces. Although specific details are few and far between, People’s Republic of China (PRC) media has compared the Gaoxin-7 to the U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) EC-130J “Commando Solo” in terms of its mission and capability. The EC-130J Commando Solo is essentially a flying broadcast station which can transmit media in AM, FM, HF, TV and military communication frequencies to enemy positions. Its transmission capability is so powerful that it is required to operate at least 200 miles off the coast of the United States during training missions so as to avoid interfering with civil communications.

PSYOP has had an important role in numerous U.S. Military operations and Chinese military planners have paid close attention to these developments. The EC-130J Commando Solo has also played a central part in these operations. In Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Commando Solo was used broadcasted messages in Arabic which urged Iraqi soldiers to surrender. In both conflicts, large numbers of Iraqi troops surrendered to coalition forces without fighting. More recently, Commando Solo participated in the Libyan Air War and broadcasted messages which urged Libyan soldiers to avoid fighting and return to their homes.

The Gaoxin-7 would play a significant role in any future hostilities or heightened tensions. One area where the Gaoxin-7 could be particularly effective would be in a conflict with Taiwan. PLA psychological warfare efforts could potentially have a devastating effect on Taiwanese troops. As some observers have noted, Taiwan’s military does not have particularly high morale and the public generally lacks confidence in the military’s ability to defend the island.  Prior to, and during, a conflict with Taiwan, the Gaoxin-7 would likely be used to broadcast messages to demoralize Taiwanese troops, and persuade them to surrender. Important PLA psychological warfare concepts such as the humane treatment of POW’s policy (优待俘虏/Yōudài fúlǔ) would likely have a powerful impact on Taiwanese soldiers. Going back to the Mao Era, this policy seeks to encourage enemy soldiers to surrender without fighting in return for fair and humane treatment. When combined with fear-inducing PSYOP measures, and the PLA’s military superiority, the appeal of humane treatment in exchange for surrender would be even stronger.

China has already laid a strong foundation for psychological warfare against Taiwan with the establishment of the PLA’s General Political Department’s 311 Base in Fujian Province. In 2011, this base was designated as the focal point for all psychological warfare efforts against Taiwan, including help transmit China’s Voice of the Straits radio.

Additionally, the PLA has also stepped up PSYOP training against Taiwan. In 2006, the PLA included psychological warfare units in exercises held in the Nanjing Military Region. During the exercise, these units dropped leaflets on mock enemy positions and broadcast PSYOP messages in Taiwanese and English. The addition of the Gaoxin-7 will greatly enhance and extend the reach of the PLA’s PSYOP activities against Taiwan.

In addition to Taiwan, the Gaoxin-7 could also play a key role in the event of hostilities in the South China Sea against countries like The Philippines and Vietnam. Like Taiwan, the Vietnamese and Philippine militaries are significantly out-gunned by the PLA. Here again, the PLA’s policy of humane treatment for POWs could have a powerful impact on soldiers and sailors who have little expectation of victory. With its medium sized airframe, the Gaoxin-7 could operate from some of the PRC-controlled islands in the South China Sea.

With the introduction of the Gaoxin-7, the PLA now wields a powerful new psychological weapon which can be deployed to produce fear and confusion in the minds of enemy troops and leaders. If used effectively, the Gaoxin-7 could greatly reduce the amount of resistance that the PLA would otherwise encounter in future battles.

Aaron Jensen served in the U.S. Air Force for seven years and holds an MA in Asia-Pacific Studies at National Chengchi University (NCCU). He currently studies Chinese at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) in Taipei, and has written for Strategic Vision for Taiwan Security.

Comments
11
boycott china products
March 23, 2014 at 02:33

China may be successful in delivering Psychological messages but the question is who will believe them? China may not realize that they can not sustain their military (military of the Communist party, not of the Chinese citizens) without the help of other countries, like Japan, Indonesia, Philippines. If these countries made an embargo of mineral and other resources, which China don’t have, China’s economy will be doomed painfully. Chinese Citizens will no longer have confidence towards the communist party as poverty increasing, labor market getting expensive, very low-quality and substandard products being rejected in international market and foreign investments being pulled-out. Chinese citizens should fight for democracy. They should get envy with other Chinese living in the different parts of the world, who are all successful, living happily with freedom, prosperity and peace.

boycott china products
March 23, 2014 at 02:20

China may be successful in delivering Psychological messages but the question is who will believe them? China may not realize that they can not sustain their military (military of the Communist party, not of the Chinese citizens) without the help of other countries, like Japan, Indonesia, Philippines. If these countries made an embargo of mineral resources, China;’s economy will be doomed painfully. Chinese Citizens will no longer have confidence towards the communist party. Chinese citizens should fight for democracy. They should get envy with other Chinese outside China who are all successful, leaving in prosperity and peace.

Larrybudwiser
August 16, 2013 at 18:15

So another example of China's intent to be a peaceful superpower. It seems they (the Chinese) are cluesless on many thing diplomatic. It's like inviting a peasent to a formal ball.

General Tso
August 15, 2013 at 03:56

This will be used internally when the CCP is overthrown in some provinces and the CCP no longer controls the media outlets in the breakaway provinces (or for example, Tibet).

Matthew Hall
August 15, 2013 at 03:48

Maybe "Hanoi" Jane Fonda can work for the chinese. Robert Downey Jr. seems to LOVE china these days. He's there promoting his movies often. He might do it, too. "This is IRONMAN telling you that China will crush you like dogs…. surrender"! "Since the chinese bought far more tickets for my movies than you americans, I support them now"!

fdsaasdf
August 15, 2013 at 03:00

Hokkien = Taiwanese. I am sure the author knows this. 

If there was massive civil disobedience, and perhaps a local region breaks away from the central fold (like what happened in the 1960s when the army and Party both broke down into fiefdoms, a classic Chinese Characteristic) then local transmissions could potentially be taken away from Party control. I think this plane is effective for those hard to reach areas —  think the far West, or deep inside Sichuan. Just look at The Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution (Mao's Personal Civil War) to see how fast and quick Beijingers control can disappear. This plane is awesome!

Pablo
August 15, 2013 at 01:37

@applesauce. I guess you don't realize that Taiwanese is actually slightly different from the Minnan spoken on the mainland – 50 years of Japanese rule added various new words to the language. Is it an entirely new/different language? Probably not, but it isn't exactly the same as the Minnan spoken on the mainland either.

Observer
August 14, 2013 at 23:53

Watch out the world community. Bully china will bore you to death with all the chantings such as "historic evidences", "we are the greatest", "undispute territories", "five thousands years of civilization" and other propaganda slogans.

Kanes
August 14, 2013 at 14:04

This will be used internally and externally. Broadcasts will only be in Chinese. They will be in English, Japanese, Hindi, etc. Communists overdo propaganda and this machine will play a very big role in that. It follows China's doctrine of minimising the chances of prolonged war.

applesauce
August 14, 2013 at 11:15

 

your thinking makes no sense, why would they need a plane to overwhelm local tranmissions when the chinese government already controls said media within china? if its only to drop leaflets they wouldnt need a special plane for that, a crop duster could do it at 1/100th of the price.

 

 

" broadcast PSYOP messages in Taiwanese and English. "

i guess the auther doesnt realize that they mainly speak chinese( Mandarin) and use chinese script(traditional) in taiwan. or does he mean  Hokkien, which is chinese dialect originally from the fujian area.

9 dashes, 4 dishes, 1 soup
August 14, 2013 at 08:45

Am I alone in thinking this plane is partly intended to be used for psyop operations inside China? I'm thinking of a large-scale civil disturbance. 

 

 

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