• Defense & Security

Accurately analyze, be apprehensive about Beijing’s actions

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yasuyuki Sugiura

The following are excerpts from an interview with Yasuyuki Sugiura, a senior fellow in the China Division at the National Institute for Defense Studies:

China is waging cognitive warfare as one of its various operations. Cognitive warfare is not a stand-alone operation but conducted in tandem with cyber-attacks, long-range precision attacks and other processes.

It is also characterized by a mixture of falsity and truth in the information it disseminates. Not everything is fake, and not everything is real, making it difficult for the other party to make a judgment.

In an actual Taiwan contingency, China would hijack social media and the Taiwan airwaves to spread false information such as “Taiwan has surrendered” and actively publicize Chinese military actions in an attempt to demoralize opponents.

China has been engaged in cognitive warfare since at least the 2000s and has refined its methods. But it is not without its weaknesses. Although China launched a cognitive warfare campaign during the military drill in August, Taiwan did not give in and the United States was not disturbed in the slightest. If the information does not seem reliable, it will not be effective.

The Western media has scrubbed away false information created by Russia during the Ukraine crisis. It is possible for the West to take the initiative in cognitive warfare.

To counter Beijing’s cognitive warfare, it is important to accurately analyze China as it is and be properly apprehensive about the nation by eliminating preconceptions and consulting a wide variety of information sources.

While the Chinese military must not be overestimated, it is also dangerous to underestimate it by believing that its actual situation is not much to fret about.