MERICS, a European think tank working on China, has recently published a podcast examining Chinese information manipulation operations and propaganda efforts in Europe. According to the Podcast:
December 3, 2021 In this episode of our EU-China podcast series, we look at how China spreads disinformation in Europe. We explore patterns in China’s disinformation and propaganda operations, evaluate how effective they are and what has the EU been doing to address this challenge.
Listen to the full podcast here.
The conclusions of the podcast included:
- China is quite open about its use of propaganda which it sees as a proactive tool to educate and shape opinions in order to contribute to a “harmonious society.”
- Before 2019, China mainly used propaganda to boost its image in Europe, for example, through investments in traditional media and op-eds by its ambassadors.
- Following the Honk Kong protests in 2019, China’s tools and objectives changed, and the country adopted more coordinated efforts to rewrite the narrative about the protests. This was accomplished through alternative or fringe media outlets, PR agencies, or paid supplements in European newspapers. China also increasingly used proxies to spread its messages, investing heavily in lobby associations, think tanks, and consultancies in Europe that spread pro-China narratives.
- Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, China has adopted new tactics and focuses more on social media to create ‘alternative versions of truth,’ manipulating social media, hiring social media influencers, and even outsourcing its online influence operations to private contractors.
As a consequence of China’s increasing information manipulation and influence operations in Europe, a European Parliamentary Special Committee has recently identified China as a leading foreign interference actor.