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Why Voice of America is losing to voice of communist China – at home and abroad

With funding and program cuts, Washington is crippling the truth-telling Voice of America broadcasts in China. Meanwhile, Beijing is aggressively expanding its media campaign to spread untruths – broadcasting from American soil. America can't afford to let the VOA go silent.

Master of ceremonies for the Voice of America's Tibetan language service Tenzin Lhundup, left, and Tseten Cho Don broadcast in the Tibetan language in the VOA studios in Washington, March 22, 2001. Op-ed contributor Joseph Bosco says: 'It is mystifying that America would divert resources from the one communications medium that the Communist Party cannot completely or permanently block.'

Joe Marquette/AP/file

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In the war of ideas between freedom and authoritarianism, the Voice of America (VOA) broadcast program is losing to the voice of communist China – not because Beijing’s message is better but because its strategic vision and will to win surpass Washington’s.

The United States government is unilaterally disarming (through funding and personnel cuts) much of its program of speaking truth to the Chinese people. Meanwhile, the People’s Republic is aggressively expanding its campaign to spread untruths, especially about Western anti-China “plots.” Worse, China’s misinformation now openly targets the American people, as well – and does it from American soil.

Yet the Broadcast Board of Governors, which manages and oversees all US civilian international broadcasting, proposes cutting parts of its radio transmissions to China and Tibet as well as Burma, Laos, and Vietnam. The board plans to eliminate dozens of personnel directly or indirectly involved in local language broadcasts to those countries even as it adds scores of administrative positions despite budget constraints.

The board of governors proposed drastic reductions in its Mandarin radio broadcasts until Congress ordered a halt. It is now reviewing its plans for total elimination of the Cantonese program reaching China’s most dynamic and democratic-leaning population. The rationale was that “audiences...prefer digital and social media.”


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