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The use of the techniques threatens to limit U.S. power projection in the region through influence operations that “diminish or rupture U.S. ties with the South China Sea littoral states and deter governments from providing forward basing facilities or other support,” the report says.

Another goal of the Chinese is to limit U.S. surveillance operations through harassment of aircraft and ships and to try and restrict routine U.S. Navy deployments.

China is also using the Three Warfares to facilitate its military expansion and global reach, and to secure sea-lanes needed to transport vitally needed oil from the Middle East.

The Pentagon study urged the development of effective countermeasures to Beijing’s psychological, legal, and media warfare efforts.

They include forceful legal action to challenge China’s so-called “lawfare” initiatives, high profile statements of U.S. security support for states in the region, and expanded support for regional political forums.

Militarily, the United States should continue reconnaissance missions by U.S. ships and aircraft and protect them with force protection weapons to deter harassment or attack. Clear rules of engagement should be developed to prevent a recurrence of the 2001 EP-3E incident.

Increased naval exercises and more “freedom of navigation” exercises also should be held within China’s exclusive economic zones in the region to counter Beijing’s claims in disputed waters.

The report also calls for bolstering “public diplomacy” campaigns in Asia, using targeted investment and development in the region, and expanding military talks and exchanges.

The Pentagon defines psychological warfare as efforts to influence or disrupt an enemy’s decision-making capabilities, to create doubts, foment anti-leadership sentiments, and deceive opponents.

Psychological warfare includes diplomatic pressure, rumors, false narratives, and harassment to “express displeasure, assert hegemony, and convey threats,” the report said.

For example, China’s economy has been used to threaten the United States with the sale of its large U.S. debt holdings, and state-controlled Chinese businesses have pressured U.S. businesses in China. Boycotts, restrictions on critical exports, such as rare earth minerals, and threats to use predatory trade practices are other Chinese soft warfare means.

For media warfare, also known as public opinion warfare, the Chinese use constant activities to influence perceptions and attitudes.

“It leverages all instruments that inform and influence public opinion including films, television programs, books, the internet, and the global media network (particularly Xinhua and CCTV) and is undertaken nationally by the [People’s Liberation Army], locally by the People’s Armed Police, and is directed against domestic populations in target countries,” the report said.

Hollywood has also been influenced by threats from the Chinese government, which threatens to block market access in an effort to pressure movie studios to avoid themes Beijing opposes.

Also, China’s state-controlled television network CCTV maintains a full time White House reporter who regularly joins the rotating media pool, a position that could permit influencing U.S. media on China through pool reports.

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