This forum post on Anti-CNN asks the question of netizens: “Without the Great Firewall, would China be able to occupy the battlefield of the Western public discourse?” Here is a sampling of some of the responses by Chinese netizens:
NO IT CANNOT.
1) China lacks language skills. You should know most people only study foreign languages to pass tests.
2) [Chinese] lack the necessary knowledge, they can only understand the sciences [not the humanities].
3) They lack the historical common knowledge, language background, and cultural background. They’re only willing to study the sciences
It can’t, the power to take the initiative is in the hands of others.
I feel it can’t. I once read a media studies professor’s analysis of Western media [idea] dissemination strategies; I feel that we’re really behind in this aspect. As far as regular netizens are concerned, our national education doesn’t teach these kind of techniques, so [common people] probably couldn’t out debate Westerners. Most importantly, at the present the platforms for international exchange were all created by Westerners.
[In response to the above comment] It’s not a matter of being out-debated, it’s that Chinese are taught to love the nation and the Party from when they’re young; Westerners learn freedom, equality, and universal love. With totally different liquids used in the brainwashing, could there be a common language?
Definitely not, even if we had the truth, we would be drowned by all sorts of their strategic moves.
I feel it can, justice eventually defeating evil is a historical trend!
If you judge it, we haven’t even started debating it yet and we’ve already lost! So what is there to debate about? My answer is that it can’t.
It can’t. Many Chinese have already “climbed the wall”, but the information outside it is fundamentally biased towards the West, so they [the Chinese outside the GFW] naturally believe that what the West says is correct and objective. If we were to get rid of the wall, these people would join the West in a battle for public opinion.
Completely impossible. Only when our actual physical power outpaces that of the West could our values win superiority. Value systems are propped up by “hard power”, not by the gift of gab.
Definitely not. They don’t communicate in Chinese, and if we communicate with them in English we’ll definitely be no match!
At the moment, no…but we must continue and improve!
Although I haven’t made a formal count and there’s no official poll, from scanning the first few pages of comments it seems that most people agree China could not win the battle for public opinion with the West, at least not at the moment.