HomeAttacks on U.S.Washingon Post: Massive Effort to Insert Pro-China Propaganda in U.S. Media

Washingon Post: Massive Effort to Insert Pro-China Propaganda in U.S. Media

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According to a Washington Post analysis, a Chinese marketing firm, Shanghai Yihuan Cultural Communication Co., Ltd. (also known as Haixun Press), renowned for its connections to state police and other Chinese governmental bodies, has been conducting an apparent influence campaign aimed at American audiences. This campaign involves placing pro-Beijing articles on various U.S. news outlets, using newswire services, to aid China’s image overseas.

The digital footprint of the Haixun Press is extensive and sophisticated. They assert their capability to place news articles on a global scale and even boost engagement through paid, artificial social media likes on popular platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Despite being a private company, Haixun Press’s ties to the Chinese government are well-documented.

While it remains unclear if the published articles on U.S. news websites are sponsored by Chinese state actors, much of the content seems to be lifted directly from Chinese state media reports or state-funded think tanks. Articles that promote Beijing’s narrative have found their way into the financial news sections of over 32 American news websites, including well-known outlets such as the Arizona Republic and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Ryan Serabian, a senior analyst at cybersecurity firm Mandiant, emphasized the significance of this occurrence. He said, “These actors are trying to blur the line between fiction and fact by placing these pro-China articles onto legitimate U.S. news outlets, likely without their knowledge. So, it’s very important for us to shine a spotlight on that so that measures are taken to prevent this from happening.”

Interestingly, these articles, placed using a newswire distribution service called CloudQuote.io run by the California-based firm FinancialContent, have not attracted a large number of views compared to China’s state media outlets on Western social media. Yet, they illustrate the ever-evolving tactics used to enhance Beijing’s overseas image and undermine political adversaries.

Mandiant, owned by tech giant Google, revealed in its report that this is the first time content from Haixun has surfaced on the subdomains of legitimate U.S. journalism companies. In previous findings, Mandiant discovered that Haixun was responsible for a network of 72 inauthentic news sites hosting pro-Beijing news content.

The issue is far from straightforward, and attempts to track the extent of Beijing’s overseas influence campaign present considerable challenges. The methods vary and evolve rapidly, ranging from pro-China articles criticizing U.S. politicians and policies, to the portrayal of American culture and politics in an unfavorable light.

The Beijing-based marketing company’s extensive client list includes various Chinese government departments, police, and state media, according to online sales materials and social media postings. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Haixun’s state media articles and blogs revealed that local Chinese police employed the firm’s analytical software to monitor individuals’ movements for health control purposes.

It is pertinent to note that campaigns to purchase positive media are not new to China. In fact, since 2017, both private and state-run propaganda operations have shifted focus outward, seeking to counteract negative narratives about Beijing overseas.

A source from a Beijing-based public opinion management firm, who requested anonymity, shared some insider details. “Every government agency in Beijing has a budget to promote its image abroad. They need to prove they are achieving results, including in English-speaking countries,” the source stated. According to the source, funds are allocated to foreign propaganda work, including positive mentions in foreign media, and to buy bot services from groups outside China.

The situation brings to light China’s growing attempts to influence U.S. politics through a range of tactics, including intensive lobbying, control of foreign media outlets, and complex disinformation campaigns. China’s efforts extend beyond its borders, targeting politics and elections throughout the Pacific Rim, with the U.S. being its latest playground.

As U.S.-China relations continue to be strained, it has become evident that Beijing is doubling down on its efforts to influence U.S. politics, media, and society. At the same time, it is also imperative for media outlets and citizens alike to maintain a high level of vigilance to discern the facts from fabricated narratives.

The need of the hour is to shed more light on these practices and take preventive measures to safeguard the integrity of journalism and preserve the democratic values it upholds. The battle against disinformation is not one to be taken lightly, and vigilance is key to preserving truth in an increasingly interconnected world.

The Biden Administration clearly does not see the power of these propaganda technique and the lasting effect it will have on the American population. This is sinister behavior by the Chinese, a direct attack.

Pro-China influence campaign infiltrates U.S. news websites

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