The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), an Australian think tank, is reporting that Chinese-state-linked social media accounts are running a cross-platform disinformation campaign targeting the Chinese diaspora, using the #StopAsianHate campaign to deflect criticism. According to ASPI’s The Strategist report:
July 1, 2021 Chinese diaspora communities continue to be an ‘essential target’ of Chinese-state-linked social media manipulation taking place around the world. Chinese-state-linked accounts are running a multilingual, cross-platform campaign aimed at stoking the fears of these communities by drawing false equivalences between anti-Asian racism and increased speculation about Covid-19 laboratory-leak theories. This campaign illustrates the Chinese Communist Party’s common tactic of using accusations of racism to deflect criticism. The #StopAsianHate hashtag was started by Asian-Americans in March in an effort to end racially motivated attacks and discrimination. […] The same hashtag is now being used to smear Hong Kong doctor Li-Meng Yan, who has published three controversial articles claiming that the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV‑2 was artificially created in a Chinese laboratory. A search of the hashtags #StopAsianHate and #LiMengYan on Twitter between April and June 2021 returns over 30,000 tweets and retweets from more than 6,000 suspicious accounts. All posted the same set of hashtags, memes, English phrases.
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Last month, the New York Times published a major investigation into a Chinese disinformation campaign on YouTube, first covered in March by the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR).
Other recent GIOR reporting on Chinese influence operations on social media has included:
- In June, we highlighted a report analyzing a Chinese cyber campaign that combined cyber attacks with information operations.
- In May, we reported that a large-scale, pro-China network on Twitter is amplifying Chinese official government and state media accounts.
- 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.
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