Pro-China YouTube Network Used A.I. to Malign U.S., Report Finds

In a faintly stilted tone and with slightly awkward grammar, the American-accented voice on YouTube last month ridiculed Washington’s handling of the war between Israel and Hamas, claiming that the United States was unable to “play its role as a mediator like China” and “now finds itself in a position of significant isolation.” The 10-minute post was one of more than 4,500 videos in an unusually large network of YouTube channels spreading pro-China and anti-U.S. narratives, according to a report this week from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a security-focused…

As Xi Heads to San Francisco, Chinese Propaganda Embraces America

Not long ago, Chinese propaganda was warning that American attempts at easing tensions were mere performance. Its state security agency was urging people to be on guard against American spies. The country’s leader, Xi Jinping, declared that the United States was engaged in a campaign of “all-around containment, encirclement and suppression,” in remarks broadcast across state media. Now, the tone used to discuss the United States has suddenly shifted. Xinhua, the state news agency, on Monday published a lengthy article in English about the “enduring strength” of Mr. Xi’s affection…

China Uses ‘Deceptive’ Methods to Sow Disinformation, U.S. Says

The State Department accused China on Thursday of using “deceptive and coercive methods” to shape the global information environment, by acquiring stakes in foreign newspapers and television networks, using major social media platforms to promote its views and exerting pressure on international organizations and media outlets to silence critics of Beijing. The accusations, detailed in a report by the department’s Global Engagement Center, reflect worry in Washington that China’s information operations pose a growing security challenge to the United States and to democratic principles around the world by promoting “digital…

China Sows Disinformation About Hawaii Fires Using New Techniques

When wildfires swept across Maui last month with destructive fury, China’s increasingly resourceful information warriors pounced. The disaster was not natural, they said in a flurry of false posts that spread across the internet, but was the result of a secret “weather weapon” being tested by the United States. To bolster the plausibility, the posts carried photographs that appeared to have been generated by artificial intelligence programs, making them among the first to use these new tools to bolster the aura of authenticity of a disinformation campaign. For China —…

China’s Economic Outlook: Pep Talks Up Top, Gloom on the Ground

To the residents and business owners of Chedun, a working-class neighborhood in the southwestern outskirts of Shanghai, the signs of an anemic economy are all around. The factories that once drew workers from around the country have moved away. Those that remain have slashed wages. Around the affordable eateries and motley shops where workers once crowded, employees eagerly latch onto anyone passing by. “No one has money now, it’s obvious,” Cherry Qian, 25, said as she sat inside the electronics store she manages, which on Sunday afternoon had seen only…

Rock ’n’ Roll According to the Chinese Communist Party

The song is one of China’s most influential indie rock songs, depicting a story of despair in a struggling industrial city. But a local Communist Party group decided to rewrite it. What if it could spread “positive energy” instead? A man spends decades working a monotonous factory job. His wife grows increasingly insecure about the future. Their son is withdrawn, seemingly struggling at school. Then a building collapses, and their world comes crashing down. It was a story of disillusionment and hopelessness in the industrial city of Shijiazhuang, and it…

How a U.S. Tech Mogul Used Nonprofits to Sow Chinese Propaganda

The protest in London’s bustling Chinatown brought together a variety of activist groups to oppose a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. So it was peculiar when a street brawl broke out among mostly ethnic Chinese demonstrators. Witnesses said the fight, in November 2021, started when men aligned with the event’s organizers, including a group called No Cold War, attacked activists supporting the democracy movement in Hong Kong. On the surface, No Cold War is a loose collective run mostly by American and British activists who say the West’s rhetoric against…

China Moves to Erase the Vestiges of ‘Zero Covid’ to Deter Dissent

This is how China’s ruling Communist Party wants people to remember how it handled the Covid-19 pandemic: It was a “miracle in human history.” Every measure the government imposed was rooted in science, supported by the masses — and, ultimately, “completely correct.” The party is waging an ambitious propaganda campaign to rewrite the public’s memory of “zero Covid,” a signature policy of China’s leader, Xi Jinping, that helped contain the virus for almost three years — but went to such extreme lengths that it smothered the economy and set off…

China Tries to Play Down Balloon Dispute With Censorship and Memes

On Chinese social media, jokes about the suspected spy balloon have been making the rounds. People quipped that the vessel was a misunderstood attempt at wishing Americans a happy Lantern Festival, the Chinese holiday this past Sunday. Others compared it to a glutinous rice ball, a traditional food eaten during the celebrations. The wisecracking was, in part, what happens on social media anywhere in the world: current events transformed to memes to attract likes and follows. But it also dovetailed with signs of a broader government strategy to downplay an…

Hacked Russian Files Reveal Propaganda Agreement With China

Russian officials pushed the lies first. Soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, a Russian defense ministry spokesperson resuscitated debunked claims about a U.S.-funded bioweapons program in the region, accusing Ukrainian labs of experimenting with bat coronaviruses in an attempt to spark “the covert spread of deadliest pathogens.” Disinformation is an old Russian government tactic. But this time Russia had help. Within days, Chinese officials and media outlets had picked up the lies and were amplifying and expanding on the biolabs yarn. The Chinese Communist Party tabloid Global Times created two splashy…