We have highlighted before the sort of Orwellian propaganda the Chinese Communist party likes to use to keep its vast kingdom under control – see https://marcellus.in/story/chinas-troll-king-how-a-tabloid-editor-became-the-voice-of-chinese-nationalism/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=MIMPL&utm_campaign=3L3S-9th-Jan-2022&utm_content=LR1.
This piece from ProPublica illustrates how even a sporting event like the Winter Olympics is airbrushed by the Communist Party. Whilst such articles will be viewed by some as a sign of American unease with China’s growing muscle, the fact that China has to airbrush sporting events is a sign that it could go the way of the former USSR. What the Pravda did for the USSR, a hired cyber army now performs the same function for modern day China: “While China’s control of what its domestic viewers and readers consume is well established, the country has spread its own version of the Games beyond its borders, with an arsenal of digital tools that are giving China’s narrative arguably greater reach and subtlety than ever before.
With bots, fake accounts, genuine influencers and other tools, China has been able to selectively edit how the events have appeared, even outside the country, promoting everything that bolsters the official, feel-good story about the Winter Olympics and trying to smother whatever doesn’t.
“For the Chinese Communist Party, the Winter Olympics are inseparable from the broader political goal of building up the country’s national image,” said David Bandurski, director of the China Media Project, a monitoring organization. Referring to the country’s leader, he added: “This is what Xi Jinping has called ‘telling China’s story well.’”
On Twitter, which is banned in China, Chinese state media outlets and journalists, as well as diplomats, have tried to buff the image of the Games, raving about venues and cooing over the Olympic mascot.”
Using a tactic which is now used utilised by demagogues and dictators the world over, “China has also sought to influence online discussions in more concealed ways. The New York Times and ProPublica identified a network of more than 3,000 inauthentic-looking Twitter accounts that appeared to be coordinating to promote the Olympics by sharing state media posts with identical comments, for instance. Such accounts tended to be recently created with very few followers, tweeted mostly reposts and nothing of their own, and appeared to operate solely to amplify official Chinese voices.
Some of their efforts have centered on an account called Spicy Panda, which has been posting cartoons and videos to push back against calls for a boycott of the Olympics. In one cartoon, Spicy Panda accused the United States of wielding “its deceiving propaganda weapon to stain the Olympics.”
The tweet was reposted 281 times, all by the fake-looking accounts, but received little other engagement, a strong indication that the network was mobilized to promote the message. Aside from the bursts of promotion, Spicy Panda’s posts about the Olympics received almost no attention.
An analysis of Spicy Panda’s supporters turned up 861 accounts — 90% of which were created after Dec. 1. The accounts’ first wave of coordinated posts pushed Beijing’s stance that Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections were legitimate, though critics have called the vote a sham. Then the accounts turned their attention to the Olympics. (By Thursday, all but one of the accounts had been suspended, shortly after the Times and ProPublica asked Twitter about them.)
Spicy Panda appears to have a connection with iChongqing, a state media-linked multimedia platform based in Chongqing, a city in central China. The accounts that shared Spicy Panda’s posts often did the same with the tweets by iChongqing’s account. IChongqing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”
Leaving aside politics, the other function of the propaganda machine is to portray China’s sports performance in positive light: “When the United States men’s hockey team played an overmatched Chinese team, the game was not shown on the main state television sports channel, CCTV 5, and the 8-0 defeat was mentioned only glancingly in news reports. A state media slide show devoted to the men’s figure skating competition conspicuously omitted the gold medalist, Nathan Chen of the United States.
In Chinese footage of the Games, the mountains where many competitions are being held have been deftly framed to exclude the dry, brown slopes in the background, until Day 8 when a snowstorm covered them in a frosting of white.”
Meanwhile, true to form, enterprising Indians are cashing in on the Chinese Communist Party’s desperate need for positive publicity: “One American company, Vippi Media Inc., based in New Jersey, signed a $300,000 contract with the Consulate General of China in New York to help promote the Games, according to the company’s filing with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Under the contract, first reported by the research group Open Secrets, the company has been promoting the Games by recruiting “social media stars” to post on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, the company’s founder, Vipinder Jaswal, said in a telephone interview.
“They were very clear and I was very clear that it’s about the Olympics and the Olympics only, nothing to do with politics,” he said.”

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