On Jan. 28, Jianli Yang, head of the Citizens Power Initiative for China, and Nick Monaco, a Chinese misinformation researcher, revealed the Chinese regime is ramping up misinformation efforts globally. The action is about the Beijing Winter Olympics and uses previously unseen patterns and characteristics reported in The Diplomat magazine.
According to this paper, last year, Georgetown University scholar Ryan Fedasiuk found that “the militarization of China’s internet trolls” culminated in a so-called volunteer internet army of over 20 million people under the Communist Youth League (CYL).
This “army” includes college students and CYL members tasked with monitoring internet commentators and public opinion guides. If this group managed to breach the Great Firewall, as others have done in the past, it might readily overwhelm worldwide social media platforms.
There are also 2 million paid professional internet commentators, censors who volunteer their time, and an unknown number of internet cops.
As the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing approach, China’s cyber army has stepped up its attempts to intimidate, attack, and create havoc among human rights campaigners around the world.
In December 2021, ‘Spamouflage’ launched a campaign centered on Olympic themes. In addition, a government-run “Rumor Busting Platform,” established in 2019 as a domestic fact-checking agency, has published patently fake stories denying human rights abuses in Xinjiang and accusing boycotting governments of engaging in political manipulation.
China has been recruiting overseas vloggers to propagate CCP messages to make its deception more successful in recent years.
Another strategy is to localize Chinese propaganda for international audiences by deploying Chinese influencers to spread the message in the local language.
According to Jianli Yang and Nick Monaco, even though American social media companies have taken steps to remove China’s state-linked information operations, dealing with Chinese propaganda on a large scale and for-profit is insufficient.