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China Takes Aim At the BBC- Coordinated Influence Campaign Ongoing

March 19th, 2021 11:40

An Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment think tank has pub­lished a report look­ing at Chi­nese social media cam­paigns aimed at dis­cred­it­ing the BBC. Accord­ing to the Aus­tralian Strate­gic Pol­i­cy Institute’s sum­ma­ry of the report:

March 4, 2021 Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty (CCP) diplo­mat­ic accounts, Chi­nese state media, pro-CCP influ­encers and patri­ot­ic trolls are tar­get­ing the UK pub­lic broad­cast­er, the BBC, in a coor­di­nat­ed infor­ma­tion oper­a­tion. Recent BBC reports, includ­ing the alle­ga­tions of sys­tem­at­ic sex­u­al assault in Xinjiang’s intern­ment camps, were among a num­ber of trig­gers pro­vok­ing the CCP’s pro­pa­gan­da appa­ra­tus to dis­cred­it the BBC, dis­tract inter­na­tion­al atten­tion and recap­ture con­trol of the nar­ra­tive. In ASPI ICPC’s new report, Albert Zhang and Dr Jacob Wal­lis pro­vide a snap­shot of the CCP’s ongo­ing coor­di­nat­ed response tar­get­ing the BBC, which lever­aged YouTube, Twit­ter and Face­book and was broad­ly framed around three promi­nent narratives:

  1. That the BBC spreads dis­in­for­ma­tion and is biased against China
  2. That the BBC’s domes­tic audi­ences think that it’s biased and not to be trusted
  3. That the BBC’s report­ing on Chi­na is insti­gat­ed by for­eign actors and intel­li­gence agencies.

Read the full report here.

The social media con­tent high­light­ed in the report is writ­ten in Eng­lish, French, or Russ­ian, indi­cat­ing that it is aimed at West­ern audiences.

The ASPI report notes:

Chi­nese diplo­mat­ic and state media men­tions of the BBC peaked on Face­book and Twit­ter on 5 Feb­ru­ary 2021 (the day after Ofcom revoked CGTN’s licence to broad­cast in the UK) and on 12 Feb­ru­ary 2021 (when the BBC was banned from broad­cast­ing in China.

Last week, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed on the UK’s revo­ca­tion of Chi­na Glob­al Television’s TV license and China’s sub­se­quent ban of the BBC.

Oth­er GIOR report­ing on China’s influ­ence cam­paigns has  included:

  • Ear­li­er this week, we pub­lished an exclu­sive report about a YouTube cam­paign white­wash­ing China’s treat­ment of its Uyghur population.
  • In Jan­u­ary 2021, we rec­om­mend­ed a study on China’s use of infor­ma­tion manip­u­la­tion in region­al and glob­al competition.
  • In the same month, we report­ed that Swiss media had iden­ti­fied over 230 orga­ni­za­tions as part of China’s overt and covert influ­ence oper­a­tions in Germany.