WhatsApp Channel Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now

China uses Indian influencers to spread disinformation

Indian intelligence operatives have recently uncovered a group of over a dozen Indian influencers and video bloggers (social media influencers) actively propagating the narrative of the Chinese government. These individuals have been identified as instrumental in spreading rhetoric aligned with Beijing’s agenda across various online platforms.

Security services tasked with monitoring Chinese activities have developed a comprehensive list of their various activities and social media posts based on intelligence analysis and regular surveillance of these pro-China influencers.

An Indian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told the media: “These internet celebrities appear to be motivated by financial gain, and they help Chinese state agencies promote propaganda in India, which poses a serious risk to India. With large followings among young people, some in the millions, their posts are therefore important in shaping public opinion in India, underscoring the urgency of eradicating this threat.”

Indian officials believe this is all part of a Chinese strategy to use social media influencers in rival countries such as India to spread information about Chinese authorities, mostly to refute media reports and academic research and refute statements by foreign governments.

Strategic analyst Professor Madhav Nalapat believes that “the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a campaign of spreading disinformation (completely false narratives) and misinformation (partially true narratives but presented in a way that leads to false conclusions), targeting mainly countries such as India and the United States.”

Professor Nalapat said: “The purpose of this is not only to present the People’s Republic of China as a moderate country full of opportunities and not posing any threat but also to make the Indian people doubt their own government and even hate themselves.”

Officials from Indian security agencies pointed out that China’s propaganda using Indian social media celebrities, including YouTube bloggers, may affect the views of certain groups in India towards China and its policies.

However, analysts disagree with security officials. Jabin T. Jacob, director of the New Delhi-based Center for Himalayan Studies, said in an interview with the media: “Assuming that Indians will be easily influenced by pro-China propaganda is a derogation of Indian intelligence and an underestimate. People are suspicious of China. The fact is that the more connections there are between people, the more fully Indians understand China, and the clearer they can look at China.”

MUST READ: ☞  Why Indian workers going to Israel despite the war?

In certain quarters of the Indian security apparatus, there’s a sentiment that while some video bloggers aspire to foster cross-cultural harmony between India and China, others opportunistically align themselves with China’s propaganda efforts. These influencers are believed to perpetuate stereotypes that not only perpetuate superficial perceptions of Indian life but also bolster existing preconceptions held by the Chinese public about Indians.

“Given the large followings of these bloggers across multiple social media platforms, they have the ability to shape narratives that could have national security implications, especially if they spread misinformation or lead to a biased view.”

Indian security officials have discovered that the complexity of the problem lies in the sponsorship arrangements of these influencers. The suspected vloggers appear to be paid by China and are also allowed to visit restricted areas such as Xinjiang and Tibet.

Professor Nalapat said: “Many people involved in such activities may not be aware of the origins of the narratives provided to them by the Chinese Communist Party, as the Chinese Communist Party is careful to conceal its involvement in any such activities.”

He said, “These people only see who the CCP wants them to see and hear only what the CCP wants them to hear. The real situation is hidden, just like the Soviet Union during the Stalin era.”

Some Indian YouTubers have produced content that focuses on pro-China narratives, including refuting accusations of genocide against the Uyghurs, in addition to putting forward positive views on China’s governance in Xinjiang and Tibet. By actively showcasing achievements in these fields, Indian vloggers help China counter Western views. Other foreign influencers active on Western social media platforms have followed a similar trend.

Washington-based Freedom House said in a report titled “Beijing Global Media Influence 2022” that the Chinese Communist Party has used a range of tactics, including mass dissemination of content produced by state agencies, harassment and intimidation of local media, targeted dissemination of false information, and the use of cyberbullying and fake social media accounts.

Freedom House said China’s main purpose is to influence public opinion in its favor, sometimes as a way for China to try to protect its investments in target countries.

MUST READ: ☞  U.S. House Approves Biden Impeachment Inquiry

Sarah Cook, director of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan research at Freedom House, said: “The Chinese government is using more sophisticated, covert, and coercive tactics, such as cyberbullying, cyberattacks, or direct phone calls to journalists, trying to influence reporting in countries around the world.”

Chinese state media operate social media accounts in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and Urdu and have large followings. Interacting in the local language can attract a lot of social media attention.

China Central Radio and Television’s Hindi Facebook page has 11 million fans, which is about the same number of fans as the BBC’s Hindi Facebook page. China Central Radio and Television’s Tamil Facebook page, China Radio International’s Bengali page, and Xinhua News Agency’s Urdu page have 10 million, 10 million, and 1.8 million fans, respectively.

While these languages ​​are widely spoken in India’s neighboring countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, they are also spoken by millions of people in India. China Radio International (CRI) also broadcasts programs in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and Urdu to listeners in India.

The content promoted by Indian vloggers for China covers a variety of topics, such as the unique rural life of the Uyghurs and the interaction between Uyghur mosques and local communities. The titles of the videos often use eye-catching words such as “shocking” and “surprising.” These videos show that, under the guidance of the Chinese Communist authorities, these Indian bloggers visited some regions, including Xinjiang, to show the audience the good infrastructure and governance there.

“Just because we buy Chinese goods, interact with Chinese people, or like Chinese movies does not mean Indians have a positive preference for China. China’s communism and its mistreatment of religious minorities do not win any favor in India,” Jacob said.

Professor Nalapat believes that the tension between China and India is due to China’s attempts to weaken India’s national interests and weaken India’s resistance to the CCP’s expansionism through covert and overt means.

Nalapat said: “The people of India can see for themselves what the People’s Republic of China is like and how it is hostile to India’s stability and growth. However, there is a risk that they may be misled into taking actions that are harmful to themselves, such as joining groups to paralyze urban life and work through violent means.”

MUST READ: ☞  China on Twitter: Negative population growth for the first time in 60 years, "forcing multiple births will not solve the problem"

The situation highlights the significant influence that threatened Indian YouTubers have. Security agencies believe that only through constant scrutiny of the content they produce can India’s national interests be protected and the integrity of information circulated in the public domain maintained.

Intelligence agencies say China is now funding bloggers to produce stories about China, including Tibet, Wuhan, and Xinjiang (to refute accusations of Uyghur genocide), to show “normal” life there and counter international opinion, especially in India Countries that have bad relations with China.

According to sources from security agencies, one of the Indian bloggers visited different areas of Xinjiang, Beijing, and Shanghai. In order to facilitate the broadcast of videos, China also provided him with special Internet services and access to some restricted areas.

India is one of the targets of Chinese intelligence and cyber surveillance, and a recent investigation by The Washington Post revealed that hackers from Beijing appear to have successfully stolen 95.2 gigabytes of the Indian government’s immigration data.

The documents come from Shanghai-based iSoon, a Chinese cyber company that specializes in selling third-party hacker data to Chinese government agencies, security agencies, and state-owned enterprises while also assisting the Chinese government with intelligence gathering, hacking, and other surveillance activities.

The Indian government has decided to set up an “expert committee” under the National Cyber ​​Security Coordinator at the National Security Council Secretariat to investigate hacking and data collection services of the Chinese government.

Analysts say this is indeed good news. More and more journalists and opinion leaders have become aware of China’s united front tactics and no longer accept the narrative of the Chinese Communist Party, which always tries to present itself as friendly. The power is just to make friends, not to mislead others.

Exciting news! Meritnews24 is now on WhatsApp Channels  Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest insights!”Click here!

Leave a Comment

WhatsApp Channel Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now