China News

‘China uses fake news sites to spread propaganda and disinformation’

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‘China uses fake news sites to spread propaganda and disinformation’

U.S. cybersecurity firm Mandiant says China used dozens of fake news sites and social media accounts to spread propaganda that fits the Chinese government narrative, some of which are believed to have also posted fabricated content, including fake letters from U.S. senators. The sites, which looked like foreign independent media, were linked to a Chinese public relations firm, it said.

Median said the researchers found a Chinese information action network of at least 72 suspected fake news sites and multiple fake social media accounts designed to “spread content strategically aligned with the political interests of the People’s Republic of China,” including criticism of the United States and its allies, reshaping Xinjiang’s international image, and smearing critics of China.

For example, on August 1, several sites on the network published articles critical of Pelosi after media reported that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, might visit Taiwan.

In addition to this, The Information Campaign uses forged content to discredit people who are critical of the Chinese government, The Median report notes. In one example, a Twitter account called “Jonas Drosten” posted three forged letters claiming to be from Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. The letters claim that Adrian Zenz, a German scholar who exposes the problems of internment camps and forced labor in Xinjiang, received financial help from Rubio and Steve Bannon, a right-wing strategist and former U.S. President Donald Trump.

The now-blocked Twitter number and forged letters were quoted and forwarded by multiple websites and social media accounts on the action network, and China’s English-language state-run China Daily even mentioned “Jonas Drosten” in an article in May, calling him a former colleague of Cheng’s, in an attempt to support the story that Mr. Cheng was taking money to “concoct genocide in Xinjiang.””

The more than 70 sites spread the word in 11 languages, targeting audiences in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the researchers said.

They said the sites were technically structured in connection with The Chinese public relations firm Shanghai Haixun News Agency Technology Co., Ltd., using the company’s registered servers and services.

According to Haixun’s website, the services they provide include expert global news releases and digital marketing of foreign social media, in which overseas publications can be simultaneously delivered in more than 40 languages and cover more than 100 countries.

But the researchers say there isn’t enough evidence yet to determine the extent of the company’s involvement, or whether the company is aware of its involvement.

A representative of Shanghai Haixun Technology Co., Ltd. told Bloomberg that the actions described in The Median report did not exist. The company representative said haixun was just a media release platform that cooperated with Chinese companies.

Median said there was some evidence that the campaign, which they named HaiEnergy, had not been particularly successful, had failed to “generate substantial engagement,” and that the content disseminated by fake websites and accounts had not gained much influence outside of the network.

The report does not directly link this information operation to the Chinese government, but the report notes that this is of greater concern because of the use of infrastructure associated with public relations firms, “as it shows a recent trend towards outsourcing information operations to third parties, which will make information operations easier to carry out and obscure the identity of actors.” ”###