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Chinese Sources Amplifying Russian Disinformation about Ukraine, Report Says

April 7th, 2022 11:17

UK media is report­ing that close ties between Russ­ian and Chi­nese state media and strict gov­ern­ment con­trol of infor­ma­tion have allowed Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion on Ukraine to spread swift­ly through­out Chi­na. Accord­ing to a report by the Guardian:

March 31, 2022 Close ties between Russ­ian and Chi­nese state media along with strict gov­ern­ment con­trol of infor­ma­tion have allowed Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da to spread swift­ly through­out Chi­na, “naz­i­fy­ing” Ukraine in the eyes of some Chi­nese cit­i­zens and fos­ter­ing pro-Russ­ian sen­ti­ment, a new report has claimed.  Tai­wan-based cyber mon­i­tor­ing group, Dou­ble­think Labs, tracked state and social media from mid-Feb­ru­ary until late March. It said Chi­nese sources were ampli­fy­ing Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion about Ukraine and link­ing Ukrain­ian nazism to the Hong Kong protests to encour­age sol­i­dar­i­ty between Russ­ian and Chi­nese peo­ple against “for­eign forces inter­fer­ing with inter­nal affairs”. Russ­ian author­i­ties had pushed a nar­ra­tive of nazism in Ukraine as a key jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for its inva­sion of the coun­try, as well as the threat posed by a Nato expan­sion – nar­ra­tives that gained trac­tion in Chi­na where anti-US sen­ti­ment runs high.

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Since March, Dou­ble­think Lab, a Tai­wanese NGO, has been con­tin­u­ous­ly track­ing the Man­darin-lan­guage infor­ma­tion envi­ron­ment per­tain­ing to the Ukraine-Rus­sia con­flict. The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report has recent­ly report­ed that Dou­ble­think research sug­gests that PRC offi­cials and media are blam­ing the West for the con­flict and draw­ing par­al­lels to Tai­wan. The Kremlin’s rhetoric on Ukraine – claim­ing that both coun­tries are part of the same spir­i­tu­al and polit­i­cal sphere and that NATO med­dling in the region is a secu­ri­ty threat to Rus­sia – has been repeat­ed­ly echoed by Chi­nese claims that Tai­wan is an insep­a­ra­ble part of Chi­na and that US inter­fer­ence in Tai­wan and East Asia is a secu­ri­ty threat to Bei­jing. Like Moscow, Bei­jing has been using a com­bi­na­tion of mil­i­tary provo­ca­tions, a polit­i­cal dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign, eco­nom­ic coer­cion, and diplo­mat­ic maneu­ver­ing to iso­late and pres­sure Taiwan.

A recent GIOR inves­ti­ga­tion into Chi­nese infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions cen­tered on Ukraine has found that Chi­na is also using the Ukraine con­flict to empha­size what it says is the West’s immoral­i­ty, weak­ness, and hypocrisy. These anti-west­ern Chi­nese infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions are con­duct­ed on social media, offi­cial Chi­nese state-backed media chan­nels, and through state­ments by Chi­nese offi­cials and diplo­mats. We have also report­ed that Chi­na has ampli­fied false Russ­ian claims about the US and bio­log­i­cal weapons labs in Ukraine and that pro-Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da has been pushed on social media by inau­then­tic accounts and gen­uine Chi­nese offi­cials. A recent report by Brook­ings, a US think tank, argues that Russia’s and China’s increas­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion on the nar­ra­tive being sup­plied to its domes­tic audi­ences sug­gests this is a broad­er project to reshape the glob­al infor­ma­tion landscape.