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Chinese Efforts to Amplify Russian Propaganda on Ukraine Intensifies, US Says

May 10th, 2022 14:17

US media report­ed last month that China’s offi­cials and state media are increas­ing­ly par­rot­ing Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da organs on the war in Ukraine, under­cut­ting US and Euro­pean diplo­mat­ic efforts, even after the killings in Bucha. Accord­ing to a report by the New York Times:

April 11, 2022 Only a month ago, the White House warned Chi­na not to ampli­fy Russia’s cam­paign to sow dis­in­for­ma­tion about the war in Ukraine. The Chi­nese efforts have inten­si­fied any­way, con­tra­dict­ing and dis­put­ing the poli­cies of NATO cap­i­tals, even as Rus­sia faced renewed con­dem­na­tion for the killings in Bucha and oth­er atroc­i­ties in recent days.  The result has been to cre­ate an alter­nate real­i­ty of the war — not just for the con­sump­tion of China’s cit­i­zens but also for a glob­al audi­ence.  The pro­pa­gan­da has chal­lenged the West­ern efforts to iso­late Rus­sia diplo­mat­i­cal­ly, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Mid­dle East, Africa and Latin Amer­i­ca, which have been fer­tile ground for con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and dis­trust of the Unit­ed States.

Read the rest here.

Anoth­er US media report not­ed that three tac­tics appear to play an out­sized role in China’s pro-Rus­sia infor­ma­tion war­fare: Flag­ship state media echo­ing Russ­ian state dis­in­for­ma­tion, manip­u­lat­ing social media hash­tags and trend­ing top­ics, and cen­sor­ship of alter­na­tive view­points and infor­ma­tion sources. Accord­ing to a report by the Diplomat:

April 16, 2022 In the weeks since Putin’s inva­sion of Ukraine, three of China’s state media out­lets – the CCP mouth­piece People’s Dai­ly, the nation­al broad­cast­er Chi­na Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion (CCTV), and the nation­al­is­tic tabloid Glob­al Times – have been par­tic­u­lar­ly active in feed­ing Russ­ian state pro­pa­gan­da to Chi­nese news con­sumers. Rather than sim­ply pro­mot­ing Moscow’s offi­cial views or state­ments, they have dis­sem­i­nat­ed con­tent that includes mul­ti­ple out­right false­hoods. […] The CCP regime has aid­ed the dis­sem­i­na­tion of pro-Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da by manip­u­lat­ing hash­tags and trend­ing top­ics on domes­tic social media plat­forms. There have been numer­ous exam­ples of Chi­nese state out­lets cre­at­ing hash­tags linked to dis­in­for­ma­tion nar­ra­tives that are then aggres­sive­ly ampli­fied. […] Even as they keep their algo­rithms and trend­ing top­ics aligned with the government’s pri­or­i­ties, staff at Chi­nese social media plat­forms have been busy delet­ing con­tent that departs from the offi­cial line. Among oth­er tar­gets, they have removed posts and open let­ters by promi­nent indi­vid­u­als with­in Chi­na who direct­ly ques­tioned the government’s sup­port for Moscow, crit­i­cized Putin, voiced sup­port for Ukraine, or decried nation­al­ist neti­zens’ dis­re­gard for China’s own his­tor­i­cal suf­fer­ing at the hands of for­eign invaders.

Read the rest here.

Fol­low­ing these media reports, the US gov­ern­ment last week pub­licly crit­i­cized what it calls the “pro-Rus­sia neu­tral­i­ty” of Chi­nese gov­ern­ment offi­cials who would “avoid explic­it pub­lic endorse­ment or con­dem­na­tion of Russia’s inva­sion” while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly ampli­fy­ing Moscow’s mes­sag­ing, demon­strat­ing sup­port for Rus­sia. Accord­ing to a US State Depart­ment press release, the PRC tool­box for influ­enc­ing pub­lic opin­ion on Ukraine includes the following;

  • PRC and CCP media present unver­i­fied infor­ma­tion and claims from Russia’s state-run media and offi­cials. In a feed­back loop, Russia’s state-run media then cite PRC and CCP media to por­tray Russia’s posi­tion as wide­ly supported.
  • PRC and CCP media favor­ably cov­er Russia’s false nar­ra­tives while heav­i­ly cen­sor­ing and edit­ing U.S. and oth­er offi­cials from demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­tries and inde­pen­dent media, as well as crit­i­cal voic­es from with­in the PRC, regard­ing Russia’s war against Ukraine and atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted by Russia’s forces.
  • PRC “wolf war­rior” diplo­mats boost Krem­lin nar­ra­tives by ampli­fy­ing and repost­ing con­tent from fringe media out­lets and anti-NATO and anti‑U.S. influ­encers who align with Beijing’s nar­ra­tives. Fre­quent­ly, this con­tent appears in PRC, CCP, and Krem­lin propaganda.

Read the rest here.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report has been report­ing exten­sive­ly on increas­ing evi­dence of coor­di­na­tion between Russ­ian and Chi­nese dis­in­for­ma­tion on Ukraine. Recent report­ing has included:

  • On April 14, we report­ed that the EU for­eign pol­i­cy body found that Chi­na is fre­quent­ly repeat­ing Russ­ian rhetoric on the Ukraine war, in many cas­es ampli­fy­ing Russ­ian disinformation.
  • On April 7, we report­ed that close ties between Russ­ian and Chi­nese state media and strict gov­ern­ment con­trol of infor­ma­tion had allowed Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion on Ukraine to spread swift­ly through­out China.

On March 16, we report­ed a dis­in­for­ma­tion researcher had found a clear over­lap on Twit­ter between pro-Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da pushed by inau­then­tic accounts and gen­uine Chi­nese offi­cials ampli­fy­ing the US bioweapons con­spir­a­cy theory.