The moral problem that arises out of state run propaganda does so, not as a result of target audience believing in veracity of propaganda, but, when members of that audience do not believe, however choose to act as if they do in furtherance of their own agendas.
A practical problem that arises out of running of state propaganda, and one that Nazis had managed effectively, is that for propaganda to be effective propagandist must be consistent in untruths and misinformation he propagates. Holes in a boat will eventually sink it.
The People’s Republic of China has, within it’s borders, a relatively little known ethnic minority Uygur , who live predominantly in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China’s north west border area.
The Uygur are Caucasian, mostly Muslim and speak a Turkic language. The inclusion of name “Uygur” in regions title is reflective of situation in 1955 when Uygur were by far largest ethnic group in region. They currently number some 8.5 million and up until early 1960’s lived a fairly insular and relatively politically free existence as a result of Xinjiang’s geographical remoteness and it’s then apparent economic bareness. That situation had existed, despite fact that they had been nominally ruled by successive Chinese regimes, since 1876. Going back in time Uygur had been in 9th CE, rulers a great empire in Central Asia and in 1940’s had established a short lived independent state of Eastern Turkestan..
Since early 1960’s, however, things have changed dramatically in Xinjiang. The discovery of rich reserves of natural resources and increasing strategic importance of area brought about a PRC policy to populate region with a resultant inpouring of Han ”migrants”.
The Uygur in a relatively short period of time therefore, have gone from a position of hegemony in 1949 to one of near tenuity now. Their traditional economy has largely been supplanted and their environment has been irrevocably changed.
But Uygur, to date, has demonstrated a remarkable resilience to these changes. They have refused to be assimilated since communist takeover as they had refused to be totally subjugated by Chinese since their first recorded meeting in 63 BCE. They stand out like a sore thumb on hand of Chinese homogeneity.
From their earliest history Chinese have pursued an active policy of expansion and assimilation as they moved outwards from East and last 53 years under communist rule has been no different. From early Mao period PRC has followed an undeclared policy of assimilation of ethnic groups, Uygur, however, have been less than totally acquiescent to this policy. And, this, PRC does not like one iota.
Initially, policies implemented to achieve PRC’s goal were fairly benign in nature, almost paternal, but, with failure of Uygur to comply, methods have become more overt and much more direct. They have escalated from novel such as “intermarriage bonuses”, through attempts at religious re-education, to more multi-targeted and concerted plans.
Prior to riots in Gulja (Yinning) in 1997 Chinese policies had gone fairly much unnoticed by outside world but with this event situation altered considerably.
It is not just coincidence then, that subsequent to riots in Gulja and severe government recriminations that followed and world attention ensuant, that word “Terrorist” began to increasingly replace century old terminology “Separatist” and “Splittist” to describe those seeking independence from China. The term “Separatist” not having quite same evil connotations that term “terrorist” does.
The propaganda machine had been kicked over.
It was put very much into high gear with events of “9/11”. Within a month of that date, and before dust of Twin Towers had settled, PRC had commenced an orchestrated propaganda and lobby programme in an attempt to couch their policies within terms of “War on Terror”. In doing so they hoped to mask actions they deemed necessary to finish task of breaking collective will of Uygur people.
For propaganda to be successful, however, it must be universally believed and, to be believed, it must be themed, it must be constant and it must be consistent in misinformation it provides. To this end PRC has almost failed miserably.