BEIJING, JUNE 11 -- Using television, newspapers and face-to-face encounters, the Chinese government has launched a propaganda offensive to convince its 1 billion people that the democracy movement it bloodily suppressed last week was nothing more than a handful of criminal "counterrevolutionaries." When Chinese turn on their TV sets these days, they are likely to see army trucks being torched by demonstrators, injured soldiers being interviewed at bedside and citizens angrily denouncing the protests. People are also being told repeatedly by the state-run media that there was no massacre of civilians in Beijing. For those who refuse to believe, the propaganda campaign is packed with frightening images of what happens to people who defy authority. Prisoners are almost always shown handcuffed, dirty and terrified. In a few cases, they have what appear to be bruises from beatings. When they are marched from place to place, they are forced into the posture traditionally used in China to humiliate criminals -- gripped firmly by policemen on either side, heads pushed down from behind. Interviews with Chinese suggested that the campaign may be succeeding in increasing public opposition to the democracy demonstrations, which began in mid-April and grew into an unprecedented popular uprising against the government, involving citizens from all walks of life. Outside the Beijing area, people have been aware only that something momentous happened in the city last week, but have known little of the specifics. Now they are getting a detailed version of events, courtesy of state media that maintain a virtual monopoly over distribution of news in China. One student leader interviewed said he felt the propaganda campaign is having an impact. A Chinese woman sympathetic to the movement said she was appalled when her mother, after watching state television coverage, remarked: "Isn't it awful that so many soldiers were hurt." Official radio and newspapers, sound trucks and soldiers who visit schools to educate children are now conveying the same message about the crimes of "bad elements." Such coordination is another sign of the breadth of control that hard-liners have assumed in the government after a recent power struggle with more moderate leaders, and of the limits of liberalization in recent years. During the protests, some wings of the official media reported sympathetically about the movement, and journalists marched in the streets to demand freedom of the press. Now they are marching in lockstep to condemn the protests. The government has acknowledged that there was carnage after the army smashed its way into central Beijing before midnight on June 3 to drive protesters out of Tiananmen Square. It has put the death toll at nearly 300, but said most of the dead were soldiers. Some witnesses have reported that at least 700 civilians died, while other sources place the toll in the thousands. {In Washington, White House Chief of Staff John Sununu said in a television interview broadcast Sunday that "the best number" of those killed in Beijing "measures in the thousands," and "could be even higher" than 4,000.} Witnesses have said troops gunned down unarmed demonstrators in many sections of the city, in some cases crushing their bodies under tank treads. But the government is depicting the operation as a textbook case of restraint in the face of wild provocation and the casualties as being almost entirely on its side. The government's case is bolstered by the fact that, in some areas, demonstrators did attack troops who did not respond, and these incidents were captured on videotape. On nightly television now, images are broadcast of protesters stoning troops, beating them with poles and, in some particularly dramatic photos, firebombing trucks, buses and even armored personnel carriers. In some cases, soldiers were still inside at the time. On one avenue in western Beijing, demonstrators torched an entire military convoy of more than 100 trucks and armored vehicles. Aerial pictures of the conflagration and columns of smoke have powerfully bolstered the government's argument that the troops were victims, not executioners. Other scenes show soldiers' corpses and demonstrators stripping automatic rifles off of unresisting soldiers. By mixing such scenes with shots of sullen, shabbily dressed young men in police custody, the government appears to be trying to portray the democracy movement as a gang of thieves and vandals. Viewers might conclude that there were no civilian casualties at all. Government television has also broadcast lengthy segments showing soldiers clearing debris from the streets, unloading grain and performing other public services to restore cities to normal in the days after the crackdown. On the programs, citizens applaud trucks of soldiers and offer them fruit and soft drinks. The U.S. government's overseas radio service, Voice of America (VOA), whose nine hours of Chinese-language broadcasts daily make it one of the few foreign news channels to which Chinese citizens have access, has come under fire in the propaganda campaign as a purveyor of lies and misinformation. On Saturday morning, official Chinese radio reported what it described as a letter from a listener complaining about VOA, whose signal has been jammed periodically since the demonstrations began. The complaining listener reportedly wrote: "Disregarding press morality, VOA has fabricated various kinds of lies to deceive the masses who do not know the truth." VOA today denied the allegations and said it has not received an official protest from China.