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GIOR Investigation: Chinese Information Operations on Ukraine War Emphasize West’s “Immorality, Weakness, and Hypocrisy”

March 4th, 2022 13:01

A Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report inves­ti­ga­tion into Chi­nese infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions cen­tered on Ukraine reveals that Chi­na is using the 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. In August 2021, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed that  Hu Xijin, the edi­tor-in-chief of the Chi­nese gov­ern­men­t’s main Eng­lish-lan­guage news­pa­per, the Glob­al Times, was a high­ly influ­en­tial jour­nal­ist and “the voice of Chi­na” who is wag­ing a sophis­ti­cat­ed pro­pa­gan­da war against the West. Xijin recent­ly pub­lished a video in which he accus­es the US and NATO of immoral­i­ty because they are encour­ag­ing Ukraini­ans to fight against the Russ­ian invaders. Accord­ing to the video:

March 2, 2022 Just one week into the war, nego­ti­a­tions were high on the agen­da of both sides, reflect­ing a strong will­ing­ness for a set­tle­ment despite the wide gap in posi­tions. Yet in Wash­ing­ton and Europe, lit­tle encour­age­ment is seen for the nego­ti­a­tions. The US and its allies are quite incen­di­ary by encour­ag­ing Ukraine to com­bat. One could say that fight­ing is the basis for nego­ti­a­tions but advo­ca­cy for nego­ti­a­tions deserves to be high on the agen­da. It’s obvi­ous that both the US and NATO are hard­ly empha­siz­ing it that way. The US and NATO have repeat­ed­ly stat­ed that they will not send troops to war while pro­vid­ing arms and aid to Ukraine as a fortress to sap the fight­ing pow­er of Russia’s army, leav­ing the Ukrain­ian peo­ple alone to suf­fer end­less­ly, which is immoral.

Watch the full video here.

In anoth­er video pub­lished by the Glob­al Times, Hu Xijin says, “nei­ther Rus­sia nor the West should mis­un­der­stand that the oth­er side is weak” and that nei­ther of them should pur­sue absolute vic­to­ry in Ukraine.

The Glob­al Times has also pub­lished an arti­cle sup­port­ing the Twit­ter cam­paign #Stand­With­Rus­sia and #Stand­With­Putin, which it claims is a sign that neti­zens from around the world “join in to crit­i­cize the US and West­ern coun­tries’ hypocrisy.” Accord­ing to the article:

March 4, 2022 Twit­ter has wit­nessed thou­sands of posts with hash­tags like #Stand­With­Rus­sia and #Stand­With­Putin in recent days, a response from Indi­an neti­zens toward the US’ report­ed­ly implic­it sanc­tions against India for abstain­ing in the UN vote on Ukraine. The dis­cus­sions start­ed by Indi­an neti­zens have seen even more neti­zens from around the world join in to crit­i­cize the US and West­ern coun­tries’ hypocrisy for their full sup­port of Ukraine while keep­ing silent to the deaths caused by them­selves and NATO around the world.

Read the rest here.

How­ev­er, recent research reveals that the  #Stand­With­Rus­sia and #Stand­With­Putin hash­tags have been pushed main­ly by inau­then­tic accounts, sug­gest­ing a coor­di­nat­ed influ­ence oper­a­tion. Accord­ing to a Twit­ter thread from dis­in­for­ma­tion researcher Marc Owen Jones:

March 3, 2022 This is a thread on pro-Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da & #dis­in­for­ma­tion. I analysed the hash­tags “i stand with Putin” & “i stand with Rus­sia’. I analysed around 20,000 Twit­ter inter­ac­tions involv­ing 9600 unique accounts. […] 15/ any­way, that’s it for now. To sum up. There are bots, spam and what appears to be lots of inau­then­tic behav­iour dri­ving the ‘i stand with putin’ and ‘i stand with rus­sia’ hash­tag. Of course there are real peo­ple in there too, not least those con­demn­ing the hash­tag. #Ukraine

Read the full thread here.

Dou­ble­think Lab, a Tai­wanese NGO, has recent­ly pub­lished a list of Man­darin-lan­guage infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions on the Ukraine-Rus­sia con­flict, high­light­ing how PRC offi­cials and media are blam­ing the West for the con­flict and draw­ing par­al­lels to Tai­wan. Accord­ing to the Dou­ble­think Lab report:

March 2, 2022 PRC state media and diplo­mats argue on Twit­ter that the US and NATO are respon­si­ble for the con­flict and that West­ern sanc­tions will only bring more suffering. […]

PRC state media and diplo­mats argue on Twit­ter that the US and NATO are respon­si­ble for the con­flict and that West­ern sanc­tions will only bring more suffering.

“Guan­cha,” a web­site with close links to the CCP, pub­lished a sto­ry claim­ing that Ukrain­ian neo-Nazis “Azov reg­i­ment” par­tic­i­pat­ed in the 2019 protests in Hong Kong. […]

For­eign Min­istry spokesper­son Hua Chun­y­ing uses Eng­lish to tweet about Xi’s phone call with Putin, how­ev­er does not make clear the PRC’s posi­tion on the inva­sion. PRC ambas­sador to the US Qin Gang appeals for peace­ful uni­fi­ca­tion with Tai­wan and oppo­si­tion to Taiwan’s independence. […]

22nd, Bei­jing News sub­sidiary Hori­zon News (世面) is sus­pect­ed of acci­den­tal­ly pub­lish­ing cen­sor­ship guid­ance direc­tions to a pub­lic Wei­bo account, includ­ing the direc­tion not to pub­lish any­thing that is anti-Rus­sia or pro-West, instruc­tions on how to han­dle repub­li­ca­tions, and mon­i­tor com­ment threads, etc.

Read the full list here.

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.