America 'uses military exchanges with PLA to disrupt China and brainwash politicians'
Video producer says same tactics were used to cause Soviet Union collapse in 1991
Influential military researchers have accused the United States, in a video they helped produce, of using exchanges between American defence officials and the PLA to undermine the state and corrupt officials.
Military experts said the claims threatened to harm exchanges between the two countries and showed the PLA was trying to address the spread of graft within its ranks and the party.
The unusually hardline video in which the military researchers are quoted was produced by the PLA's National Defence University, based in Beijing, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences along with the army's General Staff Department.
"The American elites … confidently believe that the best way to disorganise China is to work closely with it, allowing it to gradually become part of the US-led international and political system," said General Liu Yazhou, the university's political commissar and one of the video's producers.
The 100-minute video appears to be intended for internal distribution but copies have circulated online and state censors had not taken them down as of yesterday. A second producer of the video is General Wang Xibin, a former president of the university.
The video lists several strategies it says the US uses in a bid to weaken the state, including cultural exports, bribing and brainwashing rising young Chinese political stars, and training pro-American activists and scholars through exchange programmes, including ones involving defence officials.
It said Washington used the same tactics to cause the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and to influence the "jasmine revolution" that toppled Tunisia's former strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
Dr Zeng Zhiping, a retired lieutenant colonel and expert in military law, said the propaganda effort would hurt the two countries' military exchange efforts.
"Only blinkered military officials would be easily brainwashed," said Zeng, who spent last year in the US on a fellowship studying military law. "I am afraid that under such hardline propaganda, only politically correct officials will be sent to study overseas, and that's not a good thing for young officers who are keen on learning advanced military thinking in the West and discovering its culture."
Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong said the film illustrated the contradiction the army and the party faced in trying to instil "traditional Red virtues - hardship and simplicity" - amid the corruption that has taken root after 30 years of economic opening up.
"The party is reluctant to find out the real reasons behind corruption … and blaming US infiltration is … convenient, " he said.
Dr Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, said the video showed that many top PLA leaders harboured long-standing fears about Western countries' ideological infiltration of the army.
"It is no secret that many in the PLA have been worried for a long time that the so-called softening of young politicians and opinion leaders, partially as a result of their exchanges with the United States, could break China's resolve to defend key strategic interests," he said.