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RECOMMENDED READING: “How China Censored Covid-19”

January 14th, 2021 14:22

The New York Times and ProP­ub­li­ca have pub­lished an exten­sive inves­ti­ga­tion into state-spon­sored Chi­nese dis­in­for­ma­tion efforts cen­tered on the Covid pan­dem­ic. As the report explains:

China’s curbs on infor­ma­tion about the out­break start­ed in ear­ly Jan­u­ary, before the nov­el coro­n­avirus had even been iden­ti­fied defin­i­tive­ly, the doc­u­ments show. When infec­tions start­ed spread­ing rapid­ly a few weeks lat­er, the author­i­ties clamped down on any­thing that cast China’s response in too “neg­a­tive” a light. The Unit­ed States and oth­er coun­tries have for months accused Chi­na of try­ing to hide the extent of the out­break in its ear­ly stages. It may nev­er be clear whether a freer flow of infor­ma­tion from Chi­na would have pre­vent­ed the out­break from mor­ph­ing into a rag­ing glob­al health calami­ty. But the doc­u­ments indi­cate that Chi­nese offi­cials tried to steer the nar­ra­tive not only to pre­vent pan­ic and debunk dam­ag­ing false­hoods domes­ti­cal­ly. They also want­ed to make the virus look less severe — and the author­i­ties more capa­ble — as the rest of the world was watching.The doc­u­ments include more than 3,200 direc­tives and 1,800 mem­os and oth­er files from the offices of the country’s inter­net reg­u­la­tor, the Cyber­space Admin­is­tra­tion of Chi­na, in the east­ern city of Hangzhou. They also include inter­nal files and com­put­er code from a Chi­nese com­pa­ny, Urun Big Data Ser­vices, that makes soft­ware used by local gov­ern­ments to mon­i­tor inter­net dis­cus­sion and man­age armies of online com­menters. The doc­u­ments were shared with The Times and ProP­ub­li­ca by a hack­er group that calls itself C.C.P. Unmasked, refer­ring to the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty. The Times and ProP­ub­li­ca inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fied the authen­tic­i­ty of many of the doc­u­ments, some of which had been obtained sep­a­rate­ly by Chi­na Dig­i­tal Times, a web­site that tracks Chi­nese inter­net controls.

Read the entire report here.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed last Octo­ber that the US Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty  Octo­ber 2020 “Home­land Threat Assess­ment ” focused heav­i­ly on Chi­nese influ­ence oper­a­tions cen­tered on the COVID-19 pandemic.