Re: [iwar] A question... Is honesty more effective?

From: David Cowhig (
Date: 2001-04-07 18:22:32

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From: David Cowhig <>
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Date: Sun, 08 Apr 2001 09:22:32 +0800
Subject: Re: [iwar] A question... Is honesty more effective?
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That is to overgeneralize. I would think that even Sun Tzu himself would
tell the truth if it was to his advantage. If one gets a reputation of
being deceptive, ones deceptions are ineffective. So I would suggest
that General  Sun Tzu tell the truth as much as possible. Then people
will more likely believe the deceptions.

Here is a summary of a section of the recent book "China Needs A
Strategy of International Communications" by a Shanghai academic now
teaching at the University of Hong Kong.  The main theme is that Chinese
propaganda is less effective than it could be because its many
deceptions reduce its credibility.


The Principle of the Distinction Between the Inner and the Outer
(Neiwai you bie)

Everyone knows the principle of the "distinction between the inner and
the outer".  In any meeting on external propaganda, all the leaders have
to bring it up.  Just
what does the principle of the distinction between the inner and the
outer mean?  First, it means preserving secrecy. There are some secrets
that can be discussed
internally  but should not be discussed with foreigners.  The second is
that "we don't wash our dirty laundry in public". We leave the ugly
things at home and only tell
the outside world about glorious things. The third is  that there are
some things that can be discussed with foreigners that we can't discuss
domestically.  For example,
when the Party and Government  have a meeting with foreign guests,  the
Chinese media only says that "they had a cordial and friendly
discussion". That means the
Chinese and foreign points of view were identical or similar.  "The two
sides had a frank discussion"  means that that some of the discussions
were not congenial and
there was disagreement.

The clearest example can be seen in the reports of the Chinese News
Service (Zhongguo Xinwenshe)  [Note from pp. 30 - 31:  Abbreviated as
Zhongxinshe, China
News Service was re-established in 1978. Its main task is to provide
news to foreign Chinese language media.  China News Service has 32
bureaux around the
world.  End note]  The China News Service provides news only to foreign
media. Chinese media are forbidden to use its material.  This
arrangement must be
unique.   Every country protects its secrets,  but how can the so-called
"secrets" that are known to all Chinese citizens at home be kept secret
from foreigners?  I'll
discuss "don't wash our dirty linen in public" more below.  Here the
principle of the distinction between the inner and the outer isn't about
keeping things secret from
the foreigners its about keeping things secret from Chinese people.
That has created many situations in which news is exported and then
re-imported. That cannot
be allowed to continue.

To my understanding, the principle of the distinction between the inner
and the outer also includes the following:

--  Reducing the ideological content of propaganda.  Domestically the
Chinese media can carry on a strong campaign educational campaign in
communist ideology,
patriotic education,  education in the theory of  Marxist Mao Zedong
thought, education in socialist values,  but communications with
foreigners cannot have such as
a heavy ideological content.   We want to convey the image of China as
"a developing country that is moving forward" we should play down the
image of "socialist
China".  The reason is simple.  If we don't, the people we are
communicating with won't accept it.

-- The difference in emphasis between Chinese domestic propaganda and
international communications.  There is no fundamental difference, but
if the propaganda
emphasis of domestic propaganda were simply carried over into
international communications, many people would not like it.  This
includes some propaganda
methods such as yelling slogans.  This is proper for domestic
propaganda, but international communications should focus on what the
foreign audience needs. Just
carrying domestic propaganda into international communications is
ignoring the audience and is not practical.

The Principle of Balance

Don't wash your dirty linen in public. As a principle, this results in
international communications that only talk about the fine housing all
the Chinese farmers have, the
prosperous cities and world beating science and technology. Is this the
image of a developing country?  We should present the image of China as
a "developing
country that is moving forward".  That means that international
communications should not avoid the ugly side of things but not going to
the other extreme either.
There must be balance.

We should have pride in our country but should not encourage narrow
nationalism.  In international communications we shouldn't be saying
that China is the
greatest.  Our foreign audience will not be amused.


A more extensive summary of that section is available at

David Cowhig

Fred Cohen wrote:

> According to Sun Tzu:
>       "All warfare is based on deception...."
> (for more details see - bottom of the home page)
> Question:
>       Is all of information warfare based on deception?
> FC
> --
> Fred Cohen at Sandia National Laboratories at tel:925-294-2087
> fax:925-294-1225
>   Fred Cohen & Associates: - -
> tel/fax:925-454-0171
>       Fred Cohen - Practitioner in Residence - The University of New
> Haven
>    This communication is confidential to the parties it is intended to
> serve.
>       PGP keys: - Have a great day!!!
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