China is devising a new way to create a fifth column in the United States – using our young people’s own fixation on social media against us.
Beijing has cultivated a vast network of social media personalities who leverage their followers on platforms like TikTok and Instagram to broadcast CCP talking points on a variety of issues.
Often, these personalities are actually paid journalists for Chinese state media who downplay their ties to the regime on social media and instead identify as “bloggers”, “travellers”, “foodies” or “foodies”. other fashionable forms.
In other cases, China has hired companies to recruit established influencers to deliver carefully crafted messages in furtherance of the regime’s goals. This extends not only to Chinese influencers, but also to Western influencers keen to replicate Beijing’s position on issues such as China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims and the story of Olympian Eileen Gu, an American who competed for China in the last Winter Olympics.
Through this network of influencers, Beijing easily spreads propaganda to Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube users around the world. According to research firm Miburo, which tracks disinformation operations overseas, at least 200 influencers with ties to the Chinese government or its state media operate in 38 different languages.
“You can see how they try to infiltrate each of these countries,” said Miburo president Clint Watts, a former FBI agent. “It’s just a matter of volume, ultimately. If you bombard an audience long enough with the same stories, people will tend to believe them over time.
AP gives the example of Vica Li, who has 1.4 million followers on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. She claims to want to teach her fans about China so they can travel around the country more easily.
“Through my lens, I will take you to China, take you into Vica’s life!” she says in one of her videos.
What Li doesn’t mention is that she is listed as a digital journalist on the website of China’s state-owned broadcaster CGTN and has regularly appeared on their shows. While Li claims to have created all of her channels on her own, her Facebook account shows that it is run by at least nine people.
In fact, impersonating a “traveler” is a common tactic of these China-linked figures, many of whom are women, who share photos and videos touting China as a great place to visit.
“They’ve clearly identified ‘Chinese Woman Influencer’ as the way forward,” Watts said of China.
The AP identified dozens of these accounts, which collectively garnered more than 10 million followers and subscribers. Many of the profiles belong to Chinese state media journalists who in recent months have transformed their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts – platforms largely blocked in China – and started identifying themselves as “bloggers”, “influencers” or non-descriptives”. journalists”. Almost all ran Facebook ads, aimed at users outside of China, encouraging people to follow their pages.
The figures do not proactively disclose their ties to the Chinese government and have largely removed references in their posts to their employers, which include CGTN, China Radio International and the Xinhua news agency….
But the AP found in its review that most Chinese influencers’ social media accounts are inconsistently labeled as state-funded media. Accounts — like those belonging to Li Jingjing and Vica Li — are often tagged on Facebook or Instagram, but not flagged on YouTube or TikTok. Vica Li’s account is untagged on Twitter. Last month, Twitter began identifying Li Jingjing’s account as a Chinese state account.media.
For her part, Li takes issue with the labels on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Another example is Jessica Zang, whose Instagram account is full of photos of her posing smiling in beautiful places like a ski resort in the Altai Mountains in China’s Xinjiang region.
Zang is a video blogger for CGTN, but rarely mentions her employer to her 1.3 million followers, nor is she labeled as “state-controlled media” on TikTok, YouTube or Twitter.
“I think it’s probably by choice that she doesn’t put any state affiliation, because you put that label on your account, people start asking certain types of questions,” Rui Zhong, who studies technology and Sino-US relations for the Washington-based Wilson Center, Zang said.
As with many influencers on Beijing’s payroll, most of Zang’s content is related to tourism or human interests. But once in a while, she publishes a propaganda article, such as a video titled “What do foreigners in BEIJING think about the CCP and their life in China?”
In this video, Zang interviews locals who praise the communist regime and say they are not controlled like outsiders believe.
“We really want more people…to know what China is really like,” Zang told his audience.
English-speaking Westerners also board:
Last April, as CGTN sought to expand its network of influencers, it invited English speakers to enter a months-long competition that would culminate in jobs as social media influencers in London, Nairobi, Kenya or in Washington. Thousands of people applied, CGTN said in September, describing the event as a “window for young people around the world to understand China”.
British video blogger Jason Lightfoot praised the opportunity in a YouTube video announcing the event.
“So many crazy experiences that I will never forget for the rest of my life, and all thanks to CGTN,” Lightfoot said in a video he said was filmed from the campus of Chinese tech company Huawei. .
Of course, this model of propaganda is not new. It has been used for decades by the left-wing globalists who run Hollywood and the mainstream media. Now young people are indoctrinated not only to reject Christianity and patriotism, but to bow down to the CCP.