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China Ramps Up Disinformation Campaign To Undermine International Xinjiang Outcry

July 1st, 2021 16:25

US media report­ed at the end of April that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment was step­ping up its inter­na­tion­al dis­in­for­ma­tion oper­a­tion sur­round­ing the mass deten­tion of Uyghurs and oth­er Tur­kic Mus­lims in “re-edu­ca­tion camps.” Accord­ing to a Radio Free Asia report:

April 29, 2021 “The CCP’s infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions are grow­ing in scale and reach,” the ASPI report said, adding that Chi­na’s approach has been to demon­strate “moral equiv­a­lence” between Chi­na’s actions and those of the U.S.  “The par­ty-state has real­ized that it needs to speak with a more col­lo­qui­al voice if it’s to active­ly shape opin­ion in the West,” it said, adding that the CCP is also out­sourc­ing its pro­pa­gan­da work to com­pa­nies under the CCP’s Unit­ed Front Work Depart­men­t’s aegis, includ­ing the Xin­jiang-based Changyu Culture. […]

Pro-Chi­na for­eign nation­als are also co-opt­ed to share the posts, with a blog called Jer­ry’s Chi­na pur­port­ed­ly run by an Aus­tralian nation­al shar­ing 697 Xin­jiang-relat­ed posts link­ing to offi­cial sources in the course of 2020.  CCP bot accounts with unlike­ly names, gener­ic pho­tos and sim­i­lar visu­al mark­ers have been pro­lif­er­at­ing too, and are used to repost state media arti­cles and pro-Chi­na con­tent.  At the end of 2019, Changyu Cul­ture land­ed a 600,000 yuan (U.S. $92,720) con­tract to shoot pro­pa­gan­da videos about the “beau­ty” of life in Xin­jiang, pro­duc­ing Ara­bic, Eng­lish, Turk­ish and Chi­nese ver­sions, and dis­sem­i­nat­ing them online.  The client com­mis­sion­ing the video was Xin­jiang Audio­vi­su­al Pub­lish­ing, which counts among its share­hold­ers the Xin­jiang region­al branch of the State Admin­is­tra­tion of Radio, Film and TV.  Changyu Cul­ture has its own YouTube chan­nel, with 5,280 sub­scribers but only 1,437 views as of April 17, 2021.  Most of its videos have gar­nered less than 20 views each, but all have Eng­lish-lan­guage sub­ti­tles. Its con­tent is some­times shared by Chi­nese state media on social media plat­forms out­side China.

Read the rest here.

In March, an exclu­sive Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report inves­ti­ga­tion exposed a Chi­nese influ­ence oper­a­tion flood­ing YouTube with hun­dreds of pro­pa­gan­da videos white­wash­ing China’s human rights vio­la­tions in Xin­jiang and push­ing the hash­tag #StopX­in­jian­gRu­mors. The New York Times lat­er cov­ered the same story.

Oth­er GIOR report­ing on China’s dis­in­for­ma­tion efforts regard­ing the human rights sit­u­a­tion in Xin­jiang has included:

  • In May, we pub­lished a GIOR inves­ti­ga­tion uncov­er­ing a Chi­nese influ­ence oper­a­tion flood­ing YouTube with hun­dreds of pro­pa­gan­da videos in which Chi­nese cit­i­zens denounce West­ern com­pa­nies which crit­i­cized the human rights sit­u­a­tion in Xinjiang.
  • In April, we report­ed that Chi­na employs an exten­sive net­work of more than 20 mil­lion “inter­net com­men­ta­tors” to ampli­fy con­tent favor­able to the Chi­nese government.
  • In April, we report­ed that Chi­na was using West­ern YouTu­bers to defend itself against accu­sa­tions of human rights vio­la­tions in Xinjiang.