EXCLUSIVE | WION investigates China's network of fake Twitter accounts

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
New Delhi, India Published: Aug 27, 2020, 10:15 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Story highlights

WION's investigation has found out that the Chinese government has an inventory of fake accounts and many of these are being used to spread disinformation against India

China's policies of expansionism and aggression seem to be backfiring. In an effort to exude power, Beijing has painted itself in a corner and is now without any allies.

China is running a multimillion dollar misinformation campaign. Chinese propaganda is an organised and orchestrated effort.

Some tweets by Chinese diplomats, the Chinese state and the Chinese media look genuine on first look, but all of hose are fake which were posted from fake accounts when the border standoff was at its worst point.

China's four distinct methods

Number one: through fake accounts. Some of them impersonating well known news platforms.

Number two: through bots. They amplify a message.

Number three: through the state media. Pushing a well crafted narrative.

Number four: through chinese diplomats themselves.

The interesting thing is that social media platforms such as Twitter are banned in China. However, WION's investigation has found out that the Chinese government has an inventory of fake accounts and many of these are being used to spread disinformation against India.

Around 5,000 suspected fake Chinese Twitter accounts were repurposed to spread disinformation. They were tweeting about the coronavirus and the Hong Kong protests, but suddenly they switched subjects and started running disinformation on the border standoff, the situation in ladakh and on the boycott calls of Chinese products.

Out of the 5,000 suspected fake Chinese accounts, 1,500 were allegedly created in the last five months and another 1,000 in the last 12 months.

The Twitter account of Radio Free Asia, a US government funded broadcaster, is fake. The account has a post that shows a fake photograph of dead Indian soldiers — a picture that has been shared by multiple accounts. The idea behind these posts is to show how India suffered at the hands of the Chinese, but all of these stories are fake.

Cchinese diplomats are involved in pushing disinformation against India, and we have proof. Some tweets from a Chinese Consul General posted in Karachi show him accusing India of “provoking conflicts” with China after being instigated by the United States.

ANother one is Lin Jing, the Chinese Consul General in Cape Town. Once again, his tweets blame India for triggering the standoff in Ladakh.

These Chinese diplomats on Twitter are not only pushing the state’s message, but are also following fake accounts who publish disinformation against India.

We have found that more than 7,000 fake Twitter accounts have links to Chinese diplomats, and this includes Zhao Lijian too, the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry — better known as the 'wolf warrior in chief'.

There are several such fake accounts and they are being followed by Chinese diplomats. The network of accounts have been caught sharing the same fake photographs of Indian soldiers.

The 'main-man' behind this network of lies and fake accounts comes from the top. This wolf warrior brand of diplomacy and these disinformation campaigns on social media are all run under direct supervision of the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Why do we say this? We will give you the answer in the second part of our investigation.

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