Praise for a Chinese aircraft armed with psychological warfare capabilities emerged in state media on Tuesday, alongside claims the plane could “give the enemy nervous breakdowns” - a statement that attracted mass ridicule online.
The article, originally printed in the Global Times, was entitled “China’s new psychological warfare aircraft overtakes the US army – It gives the enemy nervous breakdowns.” The title was a reference to the Gaoxin 7, a plane armed with portable electronic devices for psychological combat assignments, the article reported. During missions, the Gaoxin 7 would utilise its own “programmes”- which the article did not describe in further detail - to disrupt the normally-scheduled broadcasts of television, radio and wireless internet communications.
These infiltrations would “limit the spread of enemy propaganda, affect the morale of the enemy’s army, sow seeds of rumour and confusion, and send all enemy troops from soldiers to officials into a state of nervous breakdown, achieving victory without soldiers even having to fight.”
“The capabilities of the [Gaoxin 7] psychological warfare aircraft…can be used to collapse the enemy propaganda dissemination mechanism,” the article reported. “After that, [dealing with] dropped enemy pamphlets and other propaganda items will be a piece of cake.”
The rest of the article did not elaborate on the Gaoxin 7. Instead, it explained that the Chinese military’s use of psychological warfare was nothing new. It added that “weapons of mass persuasion” were frequently used by the United States in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. One example cited was the United States’ Lockheed EC-130 aircrafts, which were used during both the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom to disrupt enemy communications.
China’s Sina Weibo users were largely unimpressed with the Gaoxin 7, and even less with the idea of Chinese state media referencing “enemy propaganda”.
“This in [itself] is propaganda,” one user wrote. “[The Chinese government] uses propaganda to brainwash its own people, and now they want to use it for modern warfare as well? They shouldn’t make such an exhibition of themselves.”
“The Global Times is a weapon of mass disinformation,” another replied.
Other netizens wrote that they were wary of the deadly nature of psychological warfare and its usage in World War II and the Korean War, but simply could not take the article’s choice of words seriously - particularly its claims about the Gaoxin 7 giving the enemy “nervous breakdowns”.
“This ‘weapon of mass persuasion’ is going to give people nervous breakdowns?” one perplexed poster wrote. “Who writes this ignorant stuff?”
“After I read this news, I think I had a nervous breakdown myself,” another quipped.