The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has launched multifaceted and multiplatform information campaigns in the Xinjiang region to refute allegations of forced labour, mass detention, surveillance, sterilisation, cultural erasure, and alleged genocide.
These efforts have included using Western social media platforms to both counter and undermine media reports, research, and Uyghur testimony about Xinjiang, as well as to promote alternative narratives, according to a new report from the Australian Strategy Policy Institute.
This report examines two Chinese state-linked networks that are attempting to influence Xinjiang discourse on platforms such as Twitter and YouTube. This activity shared content in a variety of languages with the Chinese-speaking diaspora as well as international audiences.
Among other things, both networks attempted to shape international perceptions of Xinjiang. Despite evidence to the contrary, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) denies human rights violations in the region.
According to the report, inauthentic and potentially automated accounts shared content aimed at refuting evidence of human rights violations against the Uyghur population. Similarly, content was shared through fake Uyghur accounts and other shell accounts promoting video ‘testimonials’ from Uyghurs discussing their happy lives in China.
The networks appeared to be linked by theme and tactics; however, neither achieved significant organic engagement on Twitter overall – though there was notable interaction with CCP diplomats’ accounts. There were indications of old accounts being repurposed, whether purchased or stolen, as well as little effort to create authentic personas.
Both datasets have been linked to the Chinese government by Twitter, with the latter specifically linked to a company called Changyu Culture, which is linked to the Xinjiang provincial government.