X

EXCLUSIVE: Chinese YouTube Flooded With Videos Whitewashing Chinese Treatment Of Uyghurs

March 16th, 2021 12:56

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.
  • Lea Chou: Joined YouTube in Novem­ber 2020. Over 65 videos.
  • Lena Anne: Joined YouTube in Octo­ber 2019. Over 24 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.