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Chinese Government Hires US Social Media Influencers Amid Beijing Olympics Boycotts

December 15th, 2021 16:01

US media is report­ing that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has hired a US firm to recruit social media influ­encers to pro­mote the 2022 Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics. Accord­ing to a report by Open Secrets:

Decem­ber 13, 2021 The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment hired a firm to recruit social media influ­encers as part of a new dig­i­tal oper­a­tion amid con­tro­ver­sies sur­round­ing diplo­mat­ic boy­cotts of the 2022 Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics, OpenSe­crets’ review of For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act Records found.  The influ­ence oper­a­tion is being coor­di­nat­ed by Vip­pi Media, a con­sult­ing firm based in New Jer­sey, as part of a $300,000 con­tract that spans through March 2022. China’s Con­sulate Gen­er­al in New York paid $210,000 in advance on Nov. 23.  As part of the online influ­ence cam­paign to pro­mote the 2022 Win­ter Olympics in Bei­jing, and the 2022 Par­a­lympics, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is pay­ing the firm to recruit influ­encers who are “to be acti­vat­ed to dri­ve view­er­ship, mass aware­ness and pre­mi­um con­tent” for China.

Read the rest here.

The report notes that the new online influ­ence oper­a­tion comes amidst inter­na­tion­al back­lash against Chi­na over an array of alleged human rights abus­es that led the White House to announce that Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s admin­is­tra­tion “will not send any diplo­mat­ic or offi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tion to the Bei­jing 2022 Win­ter Olympics.”

In May, we report­ed that Chi­na had become the top spender on for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tions in the US, with Chi­nese for­eign agent spend­ing sky­rock­et­ing from just over $10 mil­lion in 2016 to near­ly $64 mil­lion in 2020. We have also report­ed that China’s US for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tion bud­get is focused main­ly on tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ing and oth­er media activities.