RAND, a US think tank, has published a study examining China’s disinformation efforts on social media. According to the RAND study:
The Chinese military’s focus on information warfare is expanding to include information operations on social media. Given the possibility of U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan or another regional contingency, understanding how the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) thinks about the use of disinformation campaigns on social media has emerged as an important question for U.S. national security policymakers and defense planners. This report describes how the PLA might direct social media disinformation campaigns against the United States and its armed forces, especially the U.S. Air Force. […]
The study argues that China will incorporate social media further into its military operations, seek to communicate directly with Chinese-American military officers to turn them against US policies, and introduce information that is difficult for the United States to definitively refute. According to the study’s key findings:
China is treating Taiwan as a test bed for developing attack vectors using disinformation on social media. […]
Should outright kinetic exchanges appear imminent or actually occur, an elevated level of disinformation should be expected, accompanied by messages aimed at such key groups as senior political and military leaders, service members and their families, and base-hosting communities.
Given China’s control over the Chinese-language social media platform WeChat and a general belief among China authors that the global ethnic Chinese diaspora is a favorable vector of influence for Beijing to leverage, China will likely seek to communicate directly with Chinese-American military officers and personnel and their families, attempting to turn them against any U.S. policies or operations that China finds objectionable.
Chinese disinformation efforts also will likely seek to introduce information that is difficult for the United States to definitively refute, either because doing so would require revealing classified information or because it is impossible to disprove a negative.
Read the full study here.
Recent GIOR reporting on China’s social media disinformation efforts has included:
- In July, we reported that Chinese-state-linked social media accounts are running a cross-platform disinformation campaign targeting the Chinese diaspora
- In July, we reported that the New York Times covered a Chinese influence operation on YouTube, first exposed by a GIOR investigation in March.
- In June, we recommended a RAND study examining Russian and Chinese Covid-19-related ‘malign and subversive information efforts’ targeting US audiences.