According to a Global Influence Operations Report investigation, YouTube is being flooded with hundreds of Chinese propaganda videos whitewashing China’s human rights violations against the Muslim Uyghur population in Xinjiang. GIOR has found evidence of several newly created YouTube accounts pushing the hashtag #StopXinjiangRumors and flooding the platform with hundreds of videos seeking to convince an English-speaking audience that Western states are spreading false claims about the situation of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang. Just eight YouTube accounts have uploaded more than 616 videos in recent months. YouTube channels such as “Uyghur Story,” “Hai chaim” or “Adax阿达西” have uploaded hundreds of videos allegedly portraying Uyghurs explaining how happy they are in China, how successful they are after having “graduated from an E&T center” [China’s “re-education” camps] or that they are living the best life possible.
The YouTube videos carry titles like “Happy and free Xinjiang people,” “I’m satisfied with my life now,” “This is the best life for Xinjiang people,” or “He realizes his dream to open a music restaurant after graduating from E&T center.” All the videos, uploaded from just a handful of accounts, come with English subtitles and are clearly aimed at a Western audience. Dozens if not hundreds of videos uploaded from the same accounts are directed at former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who declared China’s treatment of Uyghurs a “genocide” in January. They carry titles such as “Pompeo, you are a liar,” “Pompeo, IQ Is A Good Stuff, I Hope You Have It,” or “Pompeo, We’re Living Better and Better, So Please Shut Up.” Finally, a month ago, the same accounts started to push the hashtag #StopXinjiangRumors. In just one month, 16 YouTube channels uploaded more than 180 videos with this hashtag to YouTube, carrying titles like “My life is wonderful #stopxinjiangrumors,” “genocide” claim is totally a lie! #StopXinjiangRumors” or “What a lovely family! Three children! #StopXinjiangRumors”. Most of these videos are just one or two minutes long. Many of the accounts involved are using the same titles for their videos, suggesting a coordinated influence operation.
The following YouTube channels are involved in the pro-China influence operation, having uploaded more than 616 videos in total:
- Uygur Story: Joined YouTube in January 2019. Over 230 videos.
- Hai chaim: Joined YouTube in January 2021. Over 121 videos.
- Adax阿达西: Joined YouTube in November 2020. Over 75 videos.
- Rysok Hunhak: Joined YouTube in November 2020. Over 58 videos.
- Lea Chou: Joined YouTube in November 2020. Over 65 videos.
- Sore Hanking: Joined YouTube in December 2020. Over 37 videos.
- Lena Anne: Joined YouTube in October 2019. Over 24 videos.
- Chamr0Eun Unnyya: Joined YouTube in December 2020. Over 6 videos.
Since the Chinese government launched its “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism” in its Western province Xinjiang in 2014, it has sent at least a million Uyghurs, a Muslim minority, into so-called re-education camps. While China claims the Uyghurs have benefited from “education and vocational training,” more than 40 countries, including the U.S. and the European Union, have condemned China over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Prior Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reporting on China’s influence operations aimed at a Western audience include:
- In March 2021, we reported that YouTube took down almost 3.000 channels deemed part of a Chinese influence operation.
- In January 2021, we recommended a study on China’s use of information manipulation in regional and global competition.
- In the same month, we reported that Swiss media identified over 230 organizations part of China’s overt and covert influence operations in Germany.