Tissue of lies - Borrowing mouths to speak on Xinjiang (Ariel Bogle, Nathan Ruser, Albert Zhang and Daria Impiombato)

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Borrowing mouths to speak on Xinjiang (Ariel Bogle, Nathan Ruser, Albert Zhang and Daria Impiombato)

Fergus Ryan | 10 Dec 2021 | Funding source unknown
Borrowing mouths to speak on Xinjiang Fergus Ryan, Ariel Bogle, Nathan Ruser, Albert Zhang and Daria Impiombato




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    1. The term `party-state media` is used in this paper to reflect the solidification of CCP control over media outlets that followed a major reorganisation of the sector in 2018. See `Ownership and control of Chinese media`, Safeguard Defenders, 14 June 2021, online.


    2. `MOFA: BBC is not trusted even in the UK`, CGTN, 1 April 2021, online.


    3. James Thorpe, `Understanding China is getting harder every month`, Foreign Policy, 27 May 2021, online.


    4. Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, Danielle Cave, James Leibold, Kelsey Munro, Nathan Ruser, Uyghurs for sale: `re-education`, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang, ASPI, Canberra, 1 March 2020, online.


    5. Nathan Ruser, `Exploring Xinjiang`s detention system`, The Xinjiang Data Project, 24 September 2020, online.


    6. Nathan Ruser, James Leibold, Kelsey Munro, Tilla Hoja, Cultural erasure, ASPI, Canberra, 24 September 2020, online.


    7. Albert Zhang, Jacob Wallis, Zoe Meers, Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: the CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms, ASPI, Canberra, 30 March 2021, online.


    8. Zhang et al., Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: the CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms.


    9. Jacob Wallis, Albert Zhang, Ariel Bogle, Trigger warning: the CCP`s coordinated information effort to discredit the BBC, ASPI, Canberra, 4 March 2021, online.


    10. Zhang et al, Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: the CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms.


    11. `Tell the Chinese story well and spread it internationally`, Qiushi, 1 August 2016, online.


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    13. Anne-Marie Brady, Sidney Rittenberg, `The political meaning of friendship: reviewing the life and times of two of China`s American friends`, China Review International, 2002, 9(2): 307-19, online.


    14. `In the 30th collective study of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Xi Jinping emphasised strengthening and improving international communication work to show a true, three-dimensional and comprehensive China`, Xinhua,1 June 2021, online.


    16. `The special subject of the main station`s Party group conveys and learns the spirit of the important speech by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the 30th collective study of the Politburo of the Central Committee`, CCTV, 3 June 2021, online.


    17. `The special subject of the main station`s Party group conveys and learns the spirit of the important speech by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the 30th collective study of the Politburo of the Central Committee`.


    18. `Transform China`s development advantages into international discourse advantages`, Qiushi, 25 May 2020, online; Samantha Hofman, Social credit: technology-enhanced authoritarian control with global consequences, ASPI, Canberra, 28 June 2018, online.


    19. `Regarding telling the Chinese story well, General Secretary Xi Jinping said this`, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, online.


    21. Laura Silver, Kat Devlin, Christine Huang, Large majorities say China does not respect the personal freedoms of its people, Pew Research Center, 30 June 2021, online.


    22. Fergus Hanson, Emilia Currey, Tracy Beattie, The Chinese Communist Party`s coercive diplomacy, ASPI, Canberra, 1 September 2020, online.


    24. The Xinjiang Data Project, ASPI, Canberra, 2021, online.


    25. `Break their lineage, break their roots`: China`s crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, Human Rights Watch, 19 April 2021, online.


    28. Zhang et al., Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: the CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms.


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This report explores how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses foreign social media influencers to shape and push messages domestically and internationally about Xinjiang that are aligned with its own preferred narratives.

Summary

In short, ASPI, in this report, endeavours to prove that the CPC uses foreign influencers to produce propaganda that assists their narrative. They assert that these influencers have penetration in international arenas - "extraterritorial projection of the CCP`s political power". This aligns with an on-going theme from ASPI that alleges attempts by China at `foreign influence`.

Sources

ReferenceNoteContextClaimAnalysis
Party-state media1. The term `party-state media` is used in this paper to reflect the solidification of CCP control over media outlets that followed a major reorganisation of the sector in 2018. See `Ownership and control of Chinese media`, Safeguard Defenders, 14 June 2021, online.Our research has found key instances in which Chinese state entities have supported influencers in the creation of social media content in Xinjiang, as well as amplified influencer content that supports pro-CCP narratives. That content broadly seeks to debunk Western media reporting and academic research, refute statements by foreign governments and counter allegations of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
interference in foreign countries
Double standardA double standard is applied where China is expected to be exemplary.
This reference cites a Safeguard Defenders report that demonstrates that the CPC has consolidated control over Chinese media. The inference is that this is bad. Yet, as the MOFA video cited in the next reference ably explains, this is hardly unique to China. The video refers to the BBC World Service not governed by Ofcom. Further, the larger issue of concentration of media power ignores the situation in Australia and other western countries where a single person controls the messaging for a nation and the proliferation of `think tanks`, such as ASPI, which serve to project the governing party`s narrative internationally.

BBC is not trusted even in the UK2. `MOFA: BBC is not trusted even in the UK`, CGTN, 1 April 2021, online.Often, such content is then promoted by party-state media[1] and diplomatic accounts across major international social media networks and in Ministry of Foreign Afairs (MOFA) briefings.[2]
No claim
Source contradicts thesisThe source provides evidence that contradicts the thesis of the report or paper
In the referenced video, a MOFA official makes a cohesive and poignant argument regarding both the double standard applied to China and the status of the BBC as a media organisation.

Understanding China is getting harder every month3. James Thorpe, `Understanding China is getting harder every month`, Foreign Policy, 27 May 2021, online.This trend is particularly notable given the difficulty faced by journalists reporting in Xinjiang."[3]
restricting journalist access
Statement is vague, general or confusing but source does not clarifyThe use of terminology in the context in which the citation is found is generalised or confusing
Thorpe`s opinion piece referenced here provides examples of journalists and researchers who, for various reasons, have been unable to enter China. The context of their bans is not explained in any detail, nor referenced to enable the reader to further investigate Thorpe`s claims. A lawsuit against Adrian Zenz is referred to as exemplifying how western researchers might be deterred from conducting research in China. Since Zenz`s research does not meet proper research standards and was not conducted in China, this becomes a somewhat mute point.

In any case, the use of `difficult` does not provide any metric by which access might be judged.

Uyghurs for sale4. Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, Danielle Cave, James Leibold, Kelsey Munro, Nathan Ruser, Uyghurs for sale: `re-education`, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang, ASPI, Canberra, 1 March 2020, online.The Chinese party-state continues to deny allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including forced labour,[4]
forced labor
Claim is made and more evidence is requiredA claim is made but it cannot be verified without further information, not provided by the source
In her paper, "ASPI`s `Uyghurs for Sale` Report: Scholary Analysis or Strategic Disinformation?", Jaq James thoroughly deconstructs this report, demonstrating that none of the claims hold up to scrutiny and are illustrative of the sloppy research that characterises ASPI.

Exploring Xinjiang`s detention system5. Nathan Ruser, `Exploring Xinjiang`s detention system`, The Xinjiang Data Project, 24 September 2020, online.The Chinese party-state continues to deny allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including forced labour,[4] mass detention[5]
imprisonment or other deprivation of libertyImprisonment or other deprivation of liberty in violation of international law of people of Xinjiang
Claim is made and more evidence is requiredA claim is made but it cannot be verified without further information, not provided by the source
Since Ruser failed to provide any `on-the-ground` verification of his or ASPI`s claims, relying on dubious hearsay `testimony`, this source can provide no substantiation of the whether the allegations are true or not. Further, it would be entirely reasonable, given the lack of evidence, for China to deny the allegations.

Cultural erasure6. Nathan Ruser, James Leibold, Kelsey Munro, Tilla Hoja, Cultural erasure, ASPI, Canberra, 24 September 2020, online.The Chinese party-state continues to deny allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including forced labour,[4] mass detention[5] and cultural erasure.[6]
cultural erasureThis claim alleges that vital elements of cultural practice are prevented or significant cultural artifacts, such as dress, buildings, or monuments, are removed, desecrated, or destroyed. For this claim to be properly understood, the motive for the `erasure` must be understood. This may be attention to safety, or the possibility that the practice breaches legal regulations.
Flawed research citedThe research cited is flawed to the extent that it cannot provide substantiation for the thesis
In his article, Cultural erasure - a response (Twitter), Greyfox (pseudonym used for security reasons) demonstrates how this report is flawed in terms of 1. Poor methodology, 2. Traditional structures not being destroyed (range of dates of modification), 3. No ground verification of satellite images, 4. Flawed sampling methodology, 5. Flawed list of mosques, 6. Subjective assessment of damage, 7. False assumptions regarding minarets, 8. Statistical inaccuracies, 9. Poor extrapolation method

Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang7. Albert Zhang, Jacob Wallis, Zoe Meers, Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: the CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms, ASPI, Canberra, 30 March 2021, online.Previous work by ASPI`s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has found Chinese party-state entities using US social media networks in an effort to create greater ambiguity about the situation in Xinjiang, push a counter-narrative and amplify disinformation."[7]
disinformationThis claim suggests that certain media outlets deliberately provide disinformation for a variety of reasons
Claim is made and more evidence is requiredA claim is made but it cannot be verified without further information, not provided by the source
Since the cited paper does not analyse the truth claims of any of the media it identifies as fringe or as agents of the CPC, this source cannot provide any validation of the statement.

For example, rather comically, in Figure 9: WHO Communications Director, Gabby Stern’s tweet on 20 July 2020, where Gabby Stern affirms the truth of a Grayzone tweet (which, of course, gained attention), referring to an element of a Grayzone report, is supposed to exemplify how China is propagating disinformation.

Presumably, with this logic, any official of any international body who makes a factual claim on behalf of the body they represent, which also contradicts an ASPI report or narrative, is seen as contributing to that disinformation and "creating ambiguity". Thus, ASPI sets itself up as the arbiter of what may or may not be affirmed by any international organisation.

smear8. Zhang et al., Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: the CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms.It has also found that the CCP uses tactics, including leveraging US social media platforms, to criticise and smear Uyghur victims, journalists and researchers who work on this topic, as well as their organisations.[8]
disinformationThis claim suggests that certain media outlets deliberately provide disinformation for a variety of reasons
Statement made is entirely subjectiveThe statement made is entirely subjective and therefore the source may provide context but cannot support the statement
Significantly, this citation does not replicate the original that it quotes, leaving out the direct links to those articles claimed to be `smear`. "smear Uyghur victims, journalists and researchers who work on this topic" (p1). This appears to be a deliberate omission to discourage the reader from accessing these articles to be able to make their own judgment of `smear`.

Objectively, if we examine the archive of the tweet from Cao Yi, we find, not a smear, but a counter testimony. Any testimony needs to be tested, preferably by questioning under oath in a proper courtroom. In the absence of the proper procedure for ascertaining the truth, both testimony and counter-testimony can only be accepted tentatively until verification is undertaken.

Trigger warning9. Jacob Wallis, Albert Zhang, Ariel Bogle, Trigger warning: the CCP`s coordinated information effort to discredit the BBC, ASPI, Canberra, 4 March 2021, online.Other tactics have included temporal and narrative alignment between pro-CCP social media influencers and state entities (for example, targeting the BBC over its reporting on allegations of systematic rape in Xinjiang`s internment camps, among other stories)[9]
disinformationThis claim suggests that certain media outlets deliberately provide disinformation for a variety of reasons
Not yet analysed
The report cited is yet another ASPI report which takes singularly unremarkable events (such as the viral amplification of a story on Twitter) and attributes these to a sinister plan by China to project its narrative into foreign audiences. The use of the nonsensical "temporal and narrative alignment" (which means `at the same time, telling the same story`) refers to the very process of something `going viral`. Nothing about a story going viral is `coordinated` unless one subscribes to conspiracy theories which attribute exceptional power to any of the actors.

The fact that narratives counter to the ASPI / western view are picked up and retweeted by officials only indicates that they agree with the narrative. In this case, they agree that the BBC is biased. Since this can easily be demonstrated objectively simply by examining the news stories of the broadcaster, to construe this as a "coordinated information effort" is both absurd and pathological.

Amplification of content that depicts Uyghurs as broadly supportive of the Chinese Government`s policies in Xinjiang10. Zhang et al, Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: the CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms.Other tactics have included temporal and narrative alignment between pro-CCP social media influencers and state entities (for example, targeting the BBC over its reporting on allegations of systematic rape in Xinjiang`s internment camps, among other stories)[9] as well as the amplification of content that depicts Uyghurs as broadly supportive of the Chinese Government`s policies in Xinjiang.[10]
persecution of an identifiable ethnic groupThis claim alleges the persecution of the Uighur people of Xinjiang.
Flawed research citedThe research cited is flawed to the extent that it cannot provide substantiation for the thesis
For analysis of this source, see reference 8

Tell the Chinese story well11. `Tell the Chinese story well and spread it internationally`, Qiushi, 1 August 2016, online."We have always attached great importance to ‘borrowing a mouth to speak’ and used international friends to carry out foreign propaganda." Zhu Ling, editor-in-chief, China Daily, 2016[11]
disinformationThis claim suggests that certain media outlets deliberately provide disinformation for a variety of reasons
MisrepresentationThe statement misrepresents the intent or literal text of the source
This quote has been deliberately misconstrued by rendering the Chinese text as "used international friends to carry out foreign propaganda" which connotes, in western audiences, an idea of deliberate intention to deceive for political purposes. The text could just as easily be translated as "Tell Chinese stories well and do a good job in international communication". If one reads the article carefully, it can only be understood as an appeal to promote China and its stories; a singularly innocuous intent.

Most media outlets promote themselves beyond the borders of their parent country. This is entirely unremarkable. "We moved the U.S. editorial office to the U.S. to be close to the front line of U.S. readers and provide services to readers. This has proven to be successful."

`Who is CPC: Edgar Snow, the first Western journalist to introduce Red China to the world`, Global Times 16 April 2021, online.12. Zhu was referring to a strategy of using ‘friendly’ or noncritical content created by foreigners for both internal and external propaganda—a method the CCP has employed since the Mao era.[12]
disinformationThis claim suggests that certain media outlets deliberately provide disinformation for a variety of reasons
MisrepresentationThe statement misrepresents the intent or literal text of the source

Anne-Marie Brady, Sidney Rittenberg, `The political meaning of friendship: reviewing the life and times of two of China`s American friends`, China Review International, 2002, 9(2): 307-19, online.13. Anne-Marie Brady, Sidney Rittenberg, `The political meaning of friendship: reviewing the life and times of two of China`s American friends`, China Review International, 2002, 9(2): 307-19, online.since the Mao era.[12] The strategy, sometimes referred to as `using foreign strength to propagandise China` , is based on the idea that propaganda can be particularly potent if it`s created by foreigners."[13]
political indoctrination
Not yet analysed

A true, three-dimensional and comprehensive China14. `In the 30th collective study of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Xi Jinping emphasised strengthening and improving international communication work to show a true, three-dimensional and comprehensive China`, Xinhua,1 June 2021, online.The general principles of the strategy are endorsed by Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping. At a June 2021 collective study session of China`s Politburo on external propaganda, Xi stressed the need to `never stop expanding our circle of friends that understand China and befriend China in the arena of international public opinion`, instructing that China must improve its capacity to make its voice heard in the global `public opinion struggle`.[14]
No claim
Not yet analysed

The special subject16. `The special subject of the main station`s Party group conveys and learns the spirit of the important speech by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the 30th collective study of the Politburo of the Central Committee`, CCTV, 3 June 2021, online.globally.[16] These state-supported training programs for online influencers would help the People`s Republic of China `break through and enhance the `spread of a positive attitude` , according to Shen.[17]
No claim
Not yet analysed

Spread of a positive attitude17. `The special subject of the main station`s Party group conveys and learns the spirit of the important speech by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the 30th collective study of the Politburo of the Central Committee`.globally.[16] These state-supported training programs for online influencers would help the People`s Republic of China `break through and enhance the `spread of a positive attitude`, according to Shen."[17]
No claim
Not yet analysed

Comprehensive national power18. `Transform China`s development advantages into international discourse advantages`, Qiushi, 25 May 2020, online; Samantha Hofman, Social credit: technology-enhanced authoritarian control with global consequences, ASPI, Canberra, 28 June 2018, online.`comprehensive national power` .[18]
No claim
Not yet analysed

Telling the Chinese story well19. `Regarding telling the Chinese story well, General Secretary Xi Jinping said this`, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, online.In a 2013 address to propaganda ministers from across the country, Xi specifically instructed that there should be a `focus on building a discourse system with new concepts, new categories and new narratives that integrate the Chinese and the foreign`.[19]
No claim
Not yet analysed

Large majorities say China does not respect the personal freedoms of its people21. Laura Silver, Kat Devlin, Christine Huang, Large majorities say China does not respect the personal freedoms of its people, Pew Research Center, 30 June 2021, online.A Pew Research Center survey released in June 2021 reflected the dire state of China`s international standing, showing that majorities in 15 of the 17 advanced economies surveyed hold an unfavourable opinion of the country.[21]
No claim
Not yet analysed

The Chinese Communist Party`s coercive diplomacy22. Fergus Hanson, Emilia Currey, Tracy Beattie, The Chinese Communist Party`s coercive diplomacy, ASPI, Canberra, 1 September 2020, online.This reputational hit follows China`s early cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak, economic and diplomatic coercion targeting foreign governments and companies[22]
No claim
Not yet analysed

The Xinjiang Data Project 24. The Xinjiang Data Project, ASPI, Canberra, 2021, online.This reputational hit follows China`s early cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak, economic and diplomatic coercion targeting foreign governments and companies[22] and the continued exposure of the CCP`s human rights abuses in Xinjiang by foreign academics,[23] think tanks,[24]
No claim
Not yet analysed

Human Rights Watch25. `Break their lineage, break their roots`: China`s crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, Human Rights Watch, 19 April 2021, online.This reputational hit follows China`s early cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak, economic and diplomatic coercion targeting foreign governments and companies[22] and the continued exposure of the CCP`s human rights abuses in Xinjiang by foreign academics,[23] think tanks,[24]international NGOs[25]
No claim
Not yet analysed

Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang28. Zhang et al., Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: the CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms.This reputational hit follows China`s early cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak, economic and diplomatic coercion targeting foreign governments and companies[22] and the continued exposure of the CCP`s human rights abuses in Xinjiang by foreign academics,[23] think tanks,[24]international NGOs[25] and journalists.[26] China`s internal and external propaganda push has ramped up in response to this, and also aims to burnish the CCP`s credentials as it celebrates its centenary in 2021."[27] Propaganda messaging on China`s handling of the pandemic and treatment of ethnic minorities has been deployed to counterbalance critical reporting of those issues."[28]
No claim
Not yet analysed

31 'Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang's regular press conference on March 18, 2020', media release, Permanent Mission of the PRC to the UN Ofice at Geneva and Other International Organizations in Switzerland, 19 March 2020, online.31. the Washington Post were expelled from China in the first half of 2020, according to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China,[29] which is itself an organisation that China's Ministry of Foreign Afairs (MOFA) has long described as illegal.[30] MOFA says the expulsions were in response to curbs that the US placed on Chinese reporters."[31]
No claim
Not yet analysed

32 'Attacks on foreign journalists in China cast shadow over Beijing's upcoming Olympics', Hong Kong Free Press, 2 August 2021, online.32. Since their expulsion from China, coordinated attacks on the remaining corps of foreign journalists have intensified.[32] At the same time, MOFA spokespeople have repeatedly held up the American journalist Edgar Snow, best known for his 1937 book Red star over China, as the exemplar of objective foreign reporting on China."[33] In reality, some historians argue that Snow's reporting trips were carefully choreographed and that his interviews with key figures, including Chairman Mao Zedong, were controlled and censored."[34]
No claim
Not yet analysed

33 'A US journalist who dined with Mao is Beijing's ideal for who should cover China', Quartz, 15 April 2021, online.33. Since their expulsion from China, coordinated attacks on the remaining corps of foreign journalists have intensified.[32] At the same time, MOFA spokespeople have repeatedly held up the American journalist Edgar Snow, best known for his 1937 book Red star over China, as the exemplar of objective foreign reporting on China."[33] In reality, some historians argue that Snow's reporting trips were carefully choreographed and that his interviews with key figures, including Chairman Mao Zedong, were controlled and censored."[34]
No claim
Not yet analysed

34 'A US journalist who dined with Mao is Beijing's ideal for who should cover China'.34. Since their expulsion from China, coordinated attacks on the remaining corps of foreign journalists have intensified.[32] At the same time, MOFA spokespeople have repeatedly held up the American journalist Edgar Snow, best known for his 1937 book Red star over China, as the exemplar of objective foreign reporting on China."[33] In reality, some historians argue that Snow's reporting trips were carefully choreographed and that his interviews with key figures, including Chairman Mao Zedong, were controlled and censored."[34]
No claim
Not yet analysed

35 Kaitlyn Tifany, 'America's health will soon be in the hands of very minor internet celebrities', The Atlantic, 18 February 2021, online.35. The social media influencer ecosystem is a global phenomenon in which people grow an audience for their online accounts by creating particular types of content (travel videos, for example), typically based on a specific personality, style, topic or message. The use of digital platforms to make money is not unusual, and typical monetisation pathways include advertising revenue, paid product placement and content deals. Endorsement arrangements between government institutions and social media influencers are also common. For example, fitness influencers were paid by local governments to urge Americans to stay at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.[35] It's worth noting that advertising disclosure requirements vary by country and by platform.
No claim
Not yet analysed

38 Wang Xuandi, 'Hunan man punished for using VPN to watch porn', Sixth Tone, 29 July 2020, online.38. Accessing banned foreign platforms in China is possible by using virtual private networks (VPNs), which are strictly monitored in the country as they allow users to breach the Great Firewall, or climb over the wall ().[37] Only VPN services authorised by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology are allowed, while selling or accessing other non-authorised VPN services is illegal."[38] The law is applied selectively, and penalties are more often imposed when individuals use VPNs to access controversial pieces of information or publish political content that opposes CCP lines."[39] In Xinjiang, for example, since a harsh internet crackdown that began in 2009,[40] the use of VPNs has been listed as one of the red flags authorities have used to detain Uyghurs and other minorities."[41]
No claim
Not yet analysed

40 Henryk Szadziewski, Greg Fay, 'How China dismantled the Uyghur internet', The Diplomat, 22 July 2014, online.40. Accessing banned foreign platforms in China is possible by using virtual private networks (VPNs), which are strictly monitored in the country as they allow users to breach the Great Firewall, or climb over the wall ().[37] Only VPN services authorised by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology are allowed, while selling or accessing other non-authorised VPN services is illegal."[38] The law is applied selectively, and penalties are more often imposed when individuals use VPNs to access controversial pieces of information or publish political content that opposes CCP lines."[39] In Xinjiang, for example, since a harsh internet crackdown that began in 2009,[40] the use of VPNs has been listed as one of the red flags authorities have used to detain Uyghurs and other minorities."[41]
No claim
Not yet analysed

41 'Eradicating ideological viruses': China's campaign of repression against Xinjiang's Muslims, Human Rights Watch, 9 September 2018, online.41. Accessing banned foreign platforms in China is possible by using virtual private networks (VPNs), which are strictly monitored in the country as they allow users to breach the Great Firewall, or climb over the wall ().[37] Only VPN services authorised by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology are allowed, while selling or accessing other non-authorised VPN services is illegal."[38] The law is applied selectively, and penalties are more often imposed when individuals use VPNs to access controversial pieces of information or publish political content that opposes CCP lines."[39] In Xinjiang, for example, since a harsh internet crackdown that began in 2009,[40] the use of VPNs has been listed as one of the red flags authorities have used to detain Uyghurs and other minorities."[41]
No claim
Not yet analysed

42 'MOFA: BBC is not trusted even in the UK', CGTN, 1 April 2021, online.42. By leveraging the popularity of foreign media influencers in China, the Chinese state propaganda apparatus can package their messages through potentially more persuasive voices in an attempt to neutralise critical reporting about human rights abuses in Xinjiang and depict a more positive image of the region. In turn, those foreign social media influencers may have their Xinjiang-related content promoted at MOFA conferences,[42] cross-shared on US-based social media platforms and referenced in English-language party-state media articles, growing their profile and potentially ofering new opportunities for monetisation and audience building (Figure 1). While ASPI cannot confirm whether foreign social media influencers are commissioned (and provided monetary compensation up front) to create Xinjiang-related content, the BBC has reported that state media outlet CGTN has set up a department tasked with contacting foreign social media influencers to cooperate or use their videos (see case study 2).[43] Likewise, this report will examine how influencers are invited to take part in state-sponsored tours.
No claim
Not yet analysed

43 Kerry Allen, Sophie Williams, 'The foreigners in China's disinformation drive', BBC News, 11 July 2021, online.43. By leveraging the popularity of foreign media influencers in China, the Chinese state propaganda apparatus can package their messages through potentially more persuasive voices in an attempt to neutralise critical reporting about human rights abuses in Xinjiang and depict a more positive image of the region. In turn, those foreign social media influencers may have their Xinjiang-related content promoted at MOFA conferences,[42] cross-shared on US-based social media platforms and referenced in English-language party-state media articles, growing their profile and potentially ofering new opportunities for monetisation and audience building (Figure 1). While ASPI cannot confirm whether foreign social media influencers are commissioned (and provided monetary compensation up front) to create Xinjiang-related content, the BBC has reported that state media outlet CGTN has set up a department tasked with contacting foreign social media influencers to cooperate or use their videos (see case study 2).[43] Likewise, this report will examine how influencers are invited to take part in state-sponsored tours.
No claim
Not yet analysed

44 The interactive figure is at https://bm-xj-vis.aspi.org.au. Use a mouse to navigate and scroll to zoom. Hovering over edges will bring up a clickable link to the amplification post.44. To illustrate how this ecosystem operates, ASPI ICPC built a network diagram (Figure 2) of Chinese state media and diplomatic accounts that share or post content by foreign social media influencers; reference foreign social media influencers; or promote China-based influencers who have interacted with foreign social media influencers in Xinjiang. An interactive version of this diagram is available online.[44]Nodes are sized by the number of posts shared.
No claim
Not yet analysed

45 David Bandurski, 'All this talk of independence', China Media Project, 12 February 2021, online.45. The most active state media accounts in our dataset were China Media Group's subsidiaries CGTN and CCTV, which are under the control of the CCP's Central Propaganda Department,[45] as well as the People's Daily, which is the oficial newspaper of the Central Committee of the CCP, and its 'We Are China' branded social media accounts.[46]
No claim
Not yet analysed

46 'About us', People's Daily, online.46. The most active state media accounts in our dataset were China Media Group's subsidiaries CGTN and CCTV, which are under the control of the CCP's Central Propaganda Department,[45] as well as the People's Daily, which is the oficial newspaper of the Central Committee of the CCP, and its 'We Are China' branded social media accounts.[46]
No claim
Not yet analysed

47 YChina, 'What I saw in Xinjiang working as a cotton farmer', YouTube, 8 April 2021, online.47. (Figure 4).[47] Some videos in this category didn't use footage from the region, but instead included a speech to camera or an interview contradicting allegations of human rights abuses.
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49 Barrett, 'Xinjiang Genocide - The Campaign to Take Down CHINA // - ', YouTube, 1 April 2021, online.49. The most mentioned influencers in this category in our dataset were Canadian Daniel Dumbrill,[48] the Barretts (Lee and Oli Barrett, a British fatherson vlogging duo),[49] and Barrie Jones of Best China Info (also British).[50] All of these influencers have been directly referenced by MOFA oficials on social media or in party-state media articles, and both Daniel Dumbrill and Barrie Jones have had their videos shown at MOFA press conferences."[51]
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50 Best China Info, 'Millions of Uyghurs in camps Xinjiang Lies. Where did the did the lies against China start Pt 1of4',YouTube, 28 March 2021, online.50. The most mentioned influencers in this category in our dataset were Canadian Daniel Dumbrill,[48] the Barretts (Lee and Oli Barrett, a British fatherson vlogging duo),[49] and Barrie Jones of Best China Info (also British).[50] All of these influencers have been directly referenced by MOFA oficials on social media or in party-state media articles, and both Daniel Dumbrill and Barrie Jones have had their videos shown at MOFA press conferences."[51]
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51 'Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's regular press conference on March 26, 2021', media release, PRC Ministry of Foreign Afairs, 27 March 2021, online; CGTN, 'MOFA: BBC is not trusted even in the UK', YouTube, 1 April 2021, online.51. The most mentioned influencers in this category in our dataset were Canadian Daniel Dumbrill,[48] the Barretts (Lee and Oli Barrett, a British fatherson vlogging duo),[49] and Barrie Jones of Best China Info (also British).[50] All of these influencers have been directly referenced by MOFA oficials on social media or in party-state media articles, and both Daniel Dumbrill and Barrie Jones have had their videos shown at MOFA press conferences."[51]
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52 Holly Chik, Eduardo Baptista, 'The China-based foreigners defending Beijing from Xinjiang genocide claims', South China Morning Post, 30 March 2021, online.52. based in Shenzhen)[52] and Barrie Jones from the YouTube channel Best China Info (a British expatriate potentially based in Guilin, China).[53]
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53 'In conversation with Jerry Grey and Barrie V', YouTube, 10 April 2021, online.53. based in Shenzhen)[52] and Barrie Jones from the YouTube channel Best China Info (a British expatriate potentially based in Guilin, China).[53]
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54 'A Date with China', China Daily, online.54. Social media influencers from Canada, Germany, the UK and Ghana took part in the 'A Date with China' media tour of Xinjiang in May 2021, which was held under the auspices of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which is the country's chief internet regulator and censor. The tour was co-organised by the China Daily, which is the newspaper published by the Information Ofice of China's State Council (the administrative ofice in charge of the CCP's external propaganda) and by 11 of China's provincial-level cyberspace administrations, including the Xinjiang CAC.[54]
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59 'Poverty alleviation: China's experience and contribution', State Council Information Ofice of the PRC, 6 April 2021, online; 'They are the people General Secretary Xi Jinping cares most about!' [!], CCTV Finance, 22 September 2017, online.59. The oficial themes of the tour are a set of key CCP political slogans, including 'Poverty alleviation' 'Rural revitalisation' and 'Reform and opening up brings a better life' .[58] Achieving a 'moderately well-of society' and eliminating poverty have been a centenary goal of the CCP since at least 2012."[59] In February 2021, Xi Jinping declared the end of extreme poverty in China. With these and other centenary goals hitting their deadlines in 2021, China's propaganda apparatus has increased its eforts to publicise the party's achievements, which is reflected in the themes of the 'A Date With China' campaign."[60]
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60 'China launches all-out propaganda campaign as Xi Jinping claims poverty is over', Radio Free Asia, 25 February 2021, online.60. The foreign influencers who took part in the Xinjiang leg of the tour from 17 to 24 May were embedded in a group of approximately 45 participants including foreign journalists, reporters for Chinese party-state media outlets and journalists from domestic online and commercial media outlets (Figure 6).[61] According to media reports about the tour by the China Daily, the foreign influencers included vloggers Kirk Apesland (a Canadian who goes by the online pseudonym 'Gweilo 60'), Patrick Kllmer (a German national with a sizeable following on Chinese social media), Robert Nani (a Ghanian influencer in China) and British national Stuart Wiggin, who is identified as a People's Daily online reporter in China Daily 'A Date With China' content[62] and as a 'foreign expert' working for the People's Daily subsidiary 'People's Daily Media Innovation' on their website,[63] but who also posts videos on YouTube and a number of Chinese platforms as 'The China Traveller' . He does not describe himself as a party-state media employee on his Youtube 'About' section (see also 'Platforms' inconsistencies in labelling state accounts' section on page 30)."[64]
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62 'Foreigners share impressions of Xinjiang (I)', China Daily, 27 May 2021, online.62. The foreign influencers who took part in the Xinjiang leg of the tour from 17 to 24 May were embedded in a group of approximately 45 participants including foreign journalists, reporters for Chinese party-state media outlets and journalists from domestic online and commercial media outlets (Figure 6).[61] According to media reports about the tour by the China Daily, the foreign influencers included vloggers Kirk Apesland (a Canadian who goes by the online pseudonym 'Gweilo 60'), Patrick Kllmer (a German national with a sizeable following on Chinese social media), Robert Nani (a Ghanian influencer in China) and British national Stuart Wiggin, who is identified as a People's Daily online reporter in China Daily 'A Date With China' content[62] and as a 'foreign expert' working for the People's Daily subsidiary 'People's Daily Media Innovation' on their website,[63] but who also posts videos on YouTube and a number of Chinese platforms as 'The China Traveller' . He does not describe himself as a party-state media employee on his Youtube 'About' section (see also 'Platforms' inconsistencies in labelling state accounts' section on page 30)."[64]
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63 'Fusion media production, fighting the epidemic our way' [], People's Daily Media Innovation, archived on 29 November 2021, online.63. 1The foreign influencers who took part in the Xinjiang leg of the tour from 17 to 24 May were embedded in a group of approximately 45 participants including foreign journalists, reporters for Chinese party-state media outlets and journalists from domestic online and commercial media outlets (Figure 6).[61] According to media reports about the tour by the China Daily, the foreign influencers included vloggers Kirk Apesland (a Canadian who goes by the online pseudonym 'Gweilo 60'), Patrick Kllmer (a German national with a sizeable following on Chinese social media), Robert Nani (a Ghanian influencer in China) and British national Stuart Wiggin, who is identified as a People's Daily online reporter in China Daily 'A Date With China' content[62] and as a 'foreign expert' working for the People's Daily subsidiary 'People's Daily Media Innovation' on their website,[63] but who also posts videos on YouTube and a number of Chinese platforms as 'The China Traveller' . He does not describe himself as a party-state media employee on his Youtube 'About' section (see also 'Platforms' inconsistencies in labelling state accounts' section on page 30)."[64]
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64 The China Traveller, 'About', YouTube, online.64. The foreign influencers who took part in the Xinjiang leg of the tour from 17 to 24 May were embedded in a group of approximately 45 participants including foreign journalists, reporters for Chinese party-state media outlets and journalists from domestic online and commercial media outlets (Figure 6).[61] According to media reports about the tour by the China Daily, the foreign influencers included vloggers Kirk Apesland (a Canadian who goes by the online pseudonym 'Gweilo 60'), Patrick Kllmer (a German national with a sizeable following on Chinese social media), Robert Nani (a Ghanian influencer in China) and British national Stuart Wiggin, who is identified as a People's Daily online reporter in China Daily 'A Date With China' content[62] and as a 'foreign expert' working for the People's Daily subsidiary 'People's Daily Media Innovation' on their website,[63] but who also posts videos on YouTube and a number of Chinese platforms as 'The China Traveller' . He does not describe himself as a party-state media employee on his Youtube 'About' section (see also 'Platforms' inconsistencies in labelling state accounts' section on page 30)."[64]
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65 'Rachel' Zhou Yiqiu [] and Sabira Samat appear in a China Daily video about 'A Date With China', online; and in videos by other participants, such as Kirk Apesland, online.65. inconsistencies in labelling state accounts' section on page 29).[65]
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66 'What's daily life like for Uyghurs A talk with Uyghur influencer Sabira Samat and Daniel Dumbrill', YouTube, 7 June 2021, online.66. inconsistencies in labelling state accounts' section on page 29).[65] There was also a woman whom state media journalists have named as Sabira Samat, who is also called a 'Uyghur influencer'."[66] Along with another influencer known as Hurshidem Ablikim,[67] she appears on 'Guli Talks Xinjiang' accounts on the domestic platforms Douyin, Xigua and Weibo.
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67 'GLOBALink | Xinjiang Guli Epi 3: A vlogger's beautiful trips', Xinhua Global Service, 8 March 2021, online.67. inconsistencies in labelling state accounts' section on page 29).[65] There was also a woman whom state media journalists have named as Sabira Samat, who is also called a 'Uyghur influencer'."[66] Along with another influencer known as Hurshidem Ablikim,[67] she appears on 'Guli Talks Xinjiang' accounts on the domestic platforms Douyin, Xigua and Weibo.
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68 Gulixinjiang, Instagram, online.68. under the account name 'Story of Xinjiang by Guli ' as well as on Instagram,[68]
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69 Story of Xinjiang by Guli, 'My twitter has been banned ', YouTube, 24 May 2021, online.69. under the account name 'Story of Xinjiang by Guli ' as well as on Instagram,[68] and used to appear on Twitter until the account was suspended in May 2021."[69]
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70 Story of Xinjiang by Guli, 'Within German guy's vision of Xinjiang', YouTube, 1 June 2021, online.70. under the account name 'Story of Xinjiang by Guli ' as well as on Instagram,[68] and used to appear on Twitter until the account was suspended in May 2021."[69] The Youtube account has been rebranded ' Xinjiang and Tibet sisters' as of November, 2021. This brand shares content about life in Xinjiang and sometimes directly addresses allegations of human rights abuses in the region on YouTube[70] and Instagram.[71]
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71 'Within German guy's vision of Xinjiang Part 2', Instagram, 4 June 2021, online.71. The Youtube account has been rebranded ' Xinjiang and Tibet sisters' as of November, 2021. This brand shares content about life in Xinjiang and sometimes directly addresses allegations of human rights abuses in the region on YouTube[70] and Instagram.[71]
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74 German boy Wu Yuxiang, 'It turns out Xinjiang is like this German boy toured around Xinjiang and really loved it!' [!], Bilibili, 28 May 2021, online.74. rmqi, Kashgar and Hotan. In a separate video, Kllmer says that they also went to Kashgar surrounds and Shache.[73] 'I went to many places in Xinjiang this week. I saw a lot of people, ate a lot of delicious Xinjiang food, saw a lot of enthusiastic people, and saw many of their new industries. I was also very happy to see all of that,' Kllmer says in Mandarin. At another point, Kllmer says of Xinjiang people:
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75 Story of Xinjiang by Guli, 'Within German guy's vision of Xinjiang', YouTube, 1 June 2021, online.75. 'It's almost like [you can] grab any Xinjiang person of the street and they're all able to dance.'[74] 74: 'A Date With China' media tour. Kllmer posted at least one video to his YouTube channel and three videos to his Bilibili channel. In one video that was posted to his Bilibili account but not on YouTube, Kllmer recounts his experiences on the media tour and what he noted about the 'real Xinjiang'. In the itinerary outlined by Kllmer, he says that he attended variety performances at each of the locations they went to:
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77 'Wu Yuxiang Patrick's World' [ Patrick's World], YouTube, archived 1 June 2021, online.77. rmqi, Kashgar and Hotan. In a separate video, Kllmer says that they also went to Kashgar surrounds and Shache.[73] 'I went to many places in Xinjiang this week. I saw a lot of people, ate a lot of delicious Xinjiang food, saw a lot of enthusiastic people, and saw many of their new industries. I was also very happy to see all of that,' Kllmer says in Mandarin. At another point, Kllmer says of Xinjiang people:
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78 'German guy Wu Yuxiang' [], Bilibili, archived 3 August 2021, online.78. Kllmer's videos tend to get more engagement on Chinese domestic platforms compared to content that appears on his YouTube channel. For example, on 27 July 2021, Kllmer's YouTube account[77] had only 3,510 subscribers, whereas his Bilibili account had more than 150,000 fans.[78]
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79 Wu Yuxiang Patrick's World [ Patrick's World], 'Unforgettable experience at a Xinjiang night market! German guy eats at Hotan Night Market' [], YouTube, 7 June 2021, online.79. Kllmer's videos tend to get more engagement on Chinese domestic platforms compared to content that appears on his YouTube channel. For example, on 27 July 2021, Kllmer's YouTube account[77] had only 3,510 subscribers, whereas his Bilibili account had more than 150,000 fans.[78] One video about visiting a Xinjiang night market published on his YouTube account on 7 June 2021 reached 6,146 views and 786 likes."[79]
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80 German Guy Wu Yuxiang, 'Everything can be grilled! German guy eats his way through Hotan Night Market! Exploring the best places to eat in Xinjiang!' [!], Bilibili,31 May 2021, online.80. Kllmer's videos tend to get more engagement on Chinese domestic platforms compared to content that appears on his YouTube channel. For example, on 27 July 2021, Kllmer's YouTube account[77] had only 3,510 subscribers, whereas his Bilibili account had more than 150,000 fans.[78] One video about visiting a Xinjiang night market published on his YouTube account on 7 June 2021 reached 6,146 views and 786 likes."[79] On Bilibili, the exact same video received more than 52,000 views and 4,241 likes."[80]
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82 Miss Wow China, 'Xinjiang cotton demystified: I interviewed two Uygur owners of cotton field', YouTube, 17 June 2021, online.82. / VLOG4 ',[81] for example, vlogger Stuart Wiggin shared footage ostensibly from Makit. In this video, Wiggin visits a date plantation and later a cotton field, where he talks to the same apparent cotton farmer as fellow 'A Date With China' participant and CGTN journalist 'Rachel' Zhou Yiqiu[82] and Patrick Kllmer."[83]
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83 'It turns out that Xinjiang is like this The German guy played all over Xinjiang and really loved it!' [], Bilibili, 28 May 2021, online.83. / VLOG4 ',[81] for example, vlogger Stuart Wiggin shared footage ostensibly from Makit. In this video, Wiggin visits a date plantation and later a cotton field, where he talks to the same apparent cotton farmer as fellow 'A Date With China' participant and CGTN journalist 'Rachel' Zhou Yiqiu[82] and Patrick Kllmer."[83]
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86 Miss Wow China, 'Xinjiang cotton demystified: I interviewed two Uygur owners of cotton field'.86. Miss Wow China,[86] Patrick Kllmer[87] and Stuart Wiggin's The China Traveller videos.[88]
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87 'It turns out that Xinjiang is like this The German guy played all over Xinjiang and really loved it!' [], Bilibili, 28 May 2021, online.87. Miss Wow China,[86] Patrick Kllmer[87] and Stuart Wiggin's The China Traveller videos.[88]
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88 YChina, 'What I saw in Xinjiang working as a cotton farmer', YouTube, 8 April 2021, online.88. Miss Wow China,[86] Patrick Kllmer[87] and Stuart Wiggin's The China Traveller videos.[88]
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89 Miss Wow, 'Talking about Kashgar with Gweilo 60', YouTube, 16 June 2021, online.89. Many of the 'A Date With China' videos from YouTube vloggers feature an event with local dancers in Kashgar. Examples include Miss Wow's 'Talking about Kashgar with Gweilo 60' video,[89]
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90 Gweilo 60, 'Ancient city of Kashgar Xinjiang China', YouTube, 6 June 2021, online.90. Many of the 'A Date With China' videos from YouTube vloggers feature an event with local dancers in Kashgar. Examples include Miss Wow's 'Talking about Kashgar with Gweilo 60' video,[89] Gweilo 60's 'Ancient City of Kashgar Xinjiang China'[90]
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91 The China Traveller, 'Xinjiang 2021: I explore the ancient city of Kashgar', YouTube, 31 May 2021, online.91. Many of the 'A Date With China' videos from YouTube vloggers feature an event with local dancers in Kashgar. Examples include Miss Wow's 'Talking about Kashgar with Gweilo 60' video,[89] Gweilo 60's 'Ancient City of Kashgar Xinjiang China'[90] and The China Traveller's 'Xinjiang 2021: I Explore the Ancient City of Kashgar / VLOG2 !' (Figure 10)."[91]
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92 Gweilo 60, 'Oppressed in Xinjiang once again!', YouTube, 25 June 2021, online.92. In contrast with Wiggin, Canadian vlogger Kirk Apesland appears more overtly political in his videos from the trip. For example, in a YouTube video posted on 26 June 2021 and titled 'Oppressed in Xinjiang once again!', Apesland walks and films at the Hotan Night Market, pointing to the renowned tourist location as evidence that no human rights violations are taking place in the region. 'This is in Xinjiang province. This is not what you would expect from people that are oppressed and suppressed like, seriously, look at this! Do these people look like they're having a rough time' Apesland says (Figure 11).[92]
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93 'Foreigners share impressions of Xinjiang (II)', China Daily, 29 May 2021, online.93. Content created as part of the Xinjiang leg of the 'A Date with China' tour received significant online amplification across US-based social media platforms. China Daily articles and videos,[93] in addition to other related material, have been promoted at least 150 times by Chinese state media and MOFA accounts on Facebook alone.
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94 YChina, 'I visited 3 families in Xinjiang, here is what they told me', YouTube, 11 April 2021, online.94. A number of other foreign social media influencers have created Xinjiang content in 2021 that's then been heavily promoted, and sometimes repackaged, by Chinese party-state media and diplomatic accounts. For example, Raz Gal-Or is the co-founder of the Y-Platform, which is a multichannel online video network in China. He features in three videos from Xinjiang shared on the company's YChina YouTube channel in April 2021, in which he visits a local home among other activities.[94]
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95 YChina, 'What I saw in Xinjiang working as a cotton farmer'.95. A number of other foreign social media influencers have created Xinjiang content in 2021 that's then been heavily promoted, and sometimes repackaged, by Chinese party-state media and diplomatic accounts. For example, Raz Gal-Or is the co-founder of the Y-Platform, which is a multichannel online video network in China. He features in three videos from Xinjiang shared on the company's YChina YouTube channel in April 2021, in which he visits a local home among other activities.[94]A video titled 'What I saw in Xinjiang working as a Cotton Farmer'[95] received significant amplification on social media from diplomatic and party-state media accounts amid an international stand-of over Xinjiang cotton and its alleged links to forced labour[96]
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96 Peter S Goodman, Vivian Wang, Elizabeth Paton, 'Global brands find it hard to untangle themselves from Xinjiang cotton', New York Times, 6 April 2021, online.96. A number of other foreign social media influencers have created Xinjiang content in 2021 that's then been heavily promoted, and sometimes repackaged, by Chinese party-state media and diplomatic accounts. For example, Raz Gal-Or is the co-founder of the Y-Platform, which is a multichannel online video network in China. He features in three videos from Xinjiang shared on the company's YChina YouTube channel in April 2021, in which he visits a local home among other activities.[94]A video titled 'What I saw in Xinjiang working as a Cotton Farmer'[95] received significant amplification on social media from diplomatic and party-state media accounts amid an international stand-of over Xinjiang cotton and its alleged links to forced labour[96] (see Figure 13).
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97 CGTN, 'Foreign blogger Raz Galor visits cotton farm in Xinjiang', YouTube, 5 April 2021, online.97. A number of other foreign social media influencers have created Xinjiang content in 2021 that's then been heavily promoted, and sometimes repackaged, by Chinese party-state media and diplomatic accounts. For example, Raz Gal-Or is the co-founder of the Y-Platform, which is a multichannel online video network in China. He features in three videos from Xinjiang shared on the company's YChina YouTube channel in April 2021, in which he visits a local home among other activities.[94]A video titled 'What I saw in Xinjiang working as a Cotton Farmer'[95] received significant amplification on social media from diplomatic and party-state media accounts amid an international stand-of over Xinjiang cotton and its alleged links to forced labour[96] (see Figure 13). While the YChina YouTube video doesn't show it, CGTN reporter Huang Yue was also at the cotton field and filmed an interview with Gal-Or.[97]
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99 CGTN, 'Liu Xin talks to foreign blogger on his experience in Xinjiang', YouTube, 13 April 2021, online.99. A number of other foreign social media influencers have created Xinjiang content in 2021 that's then been heavily promoted, and sometimes repackaged, by Chinese party-state media and diplomatic accounts. For example, Raz Gal-Or is the co-founder of the Y-Platform, which is a multichannel online video network in China. He features in three videos from Xinjiang shared on the company's YChina YouTube channel in April 2021, in which he visits a local home among other activities.[94]A video titled 'What I saw in Xinjiang working as a Cotton Farmer'[95] received significant amplification on social media from diplomatic and party-state media accounts amid an international stand-of over Xinjiang cotton and its alleged links to forced labour[96] (see Figure 13). While the YChina YouTube video doesn't show it, CGTN reporter Huang Yue was also at the cotton field and filmed an interview with Gal-Or.[97] Subsequent party-state media coverage claimed that this was a chance encounter."[98] Gal-Or also appears to have given a live interview from the field with CGTN anchor Liu Xin."[99]
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100 'The Central Propaganda Department takes over the merger of the three major news, publishing and film stations' [ ], Caixin, 21 March 2018, online.100. The promotion of YChina content by CGTN, which is supervised by the CCP's Propaganda Department,[100] may be part of the outlet's editorial strategy.
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101 Kerry Allen, Sophie Williams, 'The foreigners in China's disinformation drive', BBC News, 11 July 2021, online.101. some departments have also been instructed to 'find foreigners to send to Xinjiang to represent us.'[101] In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Gal-Or disclosed 'that it was the government that had told him which farmers to meet in Xinjiang'.[102]
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103 YChina, 'I am being ATTACKED by the New York Times', YouTube, 2 December 2021, online.103. In a video posted to YChina's YouTube channel on 2 December 2021, Gal-Or said 'no state media directed me in any part of my trip. It was my own personal decision to go to Xinjiang.'[103]
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104 ''Global Stringer Y China', CGTN, archived 25 November 2021, online.104. on 2 December 2021, Gal-Or said 'no state media directed me in any part of my trip. It was my own personal decision to go to Xinjiang.'[103] YChina is listed as a global stringer on CGTN's website.[104]
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106 CGTN, 'Foreign blogger Raz Galor visits cotton farm in Xinjiang', YouTube, 4 April 2021, online; CGTN, 'Liu Xin talks to foreign blogger on his experience in Xinjiang', YouTube, 13 April 2021, online.106. Footage from Gal-Or's visit to Xinjiang was widely promoted across US-based social media platforms via the accounts of both state media and MOFA. For example, it was shared by YouTube channels associated with CGTN[106]
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107 ShanghaiEye, 'What's real Xinjiang and its cotton farm like Follow this Israeli vlogger and find out', YouTube, 6 April 2021, online.107. Footage from Gal-Or's visit to Xinjiang was widely promoted across US-based social media platforms via the accounts of both state media and MOFA. For example, it was shared by YouTube channels associated with CGTN[106] as well as Shanghai Media Group's Shanghai Eye,[107] CCTV[108] and Xinhua."[109]
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108 CCTV Video News Agency, 'Israeli vlogger documents real life in Xinjiang', YouTube, 7 April 2021, online.108. Footage from Gal-Or's visit to Xinjiang was widely promoted across US-based social media platforms via the accounts of both state media and MOFA. For example, it was shared by YouTube channels associated with CGTN[106] as well as Shanghai Media Group's Shanghai Eye,[107] CCTV[108] and Xinhua.[109]
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110 Global Times, 'Raz Gal Or, a 23-year-old young entrepreneur from Israel planned to spend a week in Aksu, a major cotton producing area in Xinjiang, to experience the work and life of ordinary people, and to record local life using his camera', Facebook, 16 April 2021, online.110. profiles associated with the Global Times,[110] CGTN,[111] Xinhua[112] and China Radio International on various pages, including its Spanish [113] and German [114] accounts, among others.
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111 CGTN, 'What did foreigners who visited a cotton farm in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region think about the locals' living conditions Israeli Jewish blogger Raz Galor told CGTN that he was very impressed by Xinjiang cotton industry's advanced technology, noting that the locals enjoy a high salary', Facebook, 5 April 2021, online.111. profiles associated with the Global Times,[110] CGTN,[111] Xinhua[112] and China Radio International on various pages, including its Spanish [113] and German [114] accounts, among others.
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114 CRI German, 'Der israelische Video-Influencer Raz Galor erlebt die Arbeit und das Leben einfacher Leute in Aksu in #Xinjiang und bringt die wirkliche Geschichte der Menschen hier in die Welt (via bilibili)', Facebook, 17 April 2021, online.114. profiles associated with the Global Times,[110] CGTN,[111] Xinhua[112] and China Radio International on various pages, including its Spanish [113] and German [114] accounts, among others.
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115 'Three issues of Xinjiang videos were posted overseas, and I was sprayed', [],Bilibili, 17 April 2021, online.115. In a video posted to the YChina Bilibili account, that wasn't cross-posted to the company's YouTube account, Raz Gal-Or addressed some YouTube comments lef on his Xinjiang tour series of videos (Figure 14). In answering one comment that said that he didn't address any serious problems in Xinjiang, Gal-Or says 'friend, there aren't any problems to mention.' He also commented on questions he could have asked the Uyghurs he interviewed in Xinjiang. For example, 'What else can I ask Take me to your secret hiding spot where everyone controls your mind'[115]
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117 Frank Tang, 'How the Israeli who captured Chinese hearts plans to turn online fame into fortune', South China Morning Post, 25 November 2017, online.117. interviews with foreigners in China.[116] In January 2017, Gal-Or and Fang appear to have started a new media company called Beijing weWOWwe Technology Limited Company with a reported 10 million (US$1."[5 million) in seed funding from Gal-Or's father's company Infinity Group and Will Hunting Capital ."[117]
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118 Meir Orbach, 'China's Weibo backs Y-Platform in $3.[5 million round', CTech, 23 March 2020, online.118. interviews with foreigners in China.[116] In January 2017, Gal-Or and Fang appear to have started a new media company called Beijing weWOWwe Technology Limited Company with a reported 10 million (US$1."[5 million) in seed funding from Gal-Or's father's company Infinity Group and Will Hunting Capital ."[117] In March 2020, the Nasdaq-listed Chinese social media company Weibo Corporation joined a US$3."[5 million series A funding round in Y-Platform."[118]
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119 'Beijing Weiwo Technology Co. Ltd' [], Qichacha, archived 29 July 2021, online.119. Fang Yedun is listed as CEO of weWOWwe according to information listed on Qichacha, a Chinese corporate records database.[119]
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123 'Crooked Nuts Research Association and YCHINA' [ YCHINA], INNONATION, online.123. On-the-street interviews with China-based foreigners and funny, generally apolitical videos featuring Mandarin-speaking expats discussing daily life inside China are the mainstays of YChina's content output. The company claims to have worked with brands such as General Electric, Google, Huawei, Jeep, KFC, McDonald's and Pizza Hut, according to the website of INNONATION, a company owned by Amir Gal-Or, Raz Gal-Or's father (Figure 16).[123]
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124 'YChina' [], Tianyancha, archived 25 July 2021, online.124. broadcast on CCTV1, CCTV13 and CCTV online. [124]
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125 'Since the reform and opening up, more and more foreigners have studied, worked and lived in China. In their contacts with ordinary Chinese people, especially grassroots Communist Party members, their understanding of China andthe Communist Party of China has also deepened. So what do they think of these Communist Party members around them' [], Weixin,online.125. broadcast on CCTV1, CCTV13 and CCTV online.[124]In 2019, YChina released a video featuring Gal-Or helping a 90-year-old military doctor fulfil his wish to witness a flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square (Figure 17)."[125]
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126 People's Daily, 'The real China as I see it: Raz Galor', YouTube, 2 June 2021, online.126. Are China' YouTube channel.[126]
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127 'How this Israeli internet star, Raz Gal-Or, captured Chinese hearts', YouTube, 6 December 2017, online.127. laugh.'[127]
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128 The CCP's 'positive energy' obsession, China Media Project, 15 December 2015, online.128. 'Positive energy' is a key phrase used by Xi Jinping since 2013 referring to the need for an emphasis on uplifing messages over criticism in China's information space.[128]
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129 YChina, 'Hong Kong Today: What do the people have to say', YouTube, 8 September 2019, online.129. In September 2019, YChina published a series of videos featuring Raz Gal-Or touring Hong Kong and commenting on the protests taking place there.[129]
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130 Wallis et al., Trigger warning: the CCP's coordinated information efort to discredit the BBC.130. In September 2019, YChina published a series of videos featuring Raz Gal-Or touring Hong Kong and commenting on the protests taking place there.[129] His content was also used as part of eforts to criticise the BBC following a 2 February 2021 report into allegations of systematic rape in Xinjiang's internment camps and the decision by Ofcom (the British broadcasting regulator) on 4 February 2021 to withdraw CGTN's UK broadcast licence.[130]
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135 [], People's Daily, online.135. One example of this is a video by Stuart Wiggin, a vlogger who China Daily has referred to as a People's Daily online reporter who took part in the 'A Date with China' campaign. In his YouTube video titled 'Cherries and Camel Milk in Kashgar'[134] Wiggin posits that he is filming in Shache (also known as Yarkant), a town of around 120,000 people. However, our analysis of the video has found that no part of the video appears to show the town of Yarkant.
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136 'Yarkant facility #2', Xinjiang Data Project, ASPI, Canberra, 2021, online.136. The road to this location also passes the large detention complex in Odanliq (Figure 18).[136]
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137 'Come quick! The cherries in Misha, Yarkant are red' [], Xinmin Evening News, online.137. The second half of the video is also filmed within a government-organised 'poverty-alleviation' project in Misha municipality .[137] Misha is also a rural township outside of Yarkant.
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139 Gweilo 60, 'What's happening in Xinjiang', YouTube, 9 June 2021, online.139. Videos mainly featuring 'model' 'poverty-alleviation' projects are common products of the participants in the 'A Date with China' campaign and several other bloggers who are supportive of government policy in Xinjiang. Another example of this is several participants, including Wiggin[138] and Apesland,[139] making videos about the same date farm in a rural township north of Mekit County. This same farm has also been visited by CGTN foreign reporters[140] and was profiled by the China Daily newspaper.[141]
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140 'Tasting red dates baijiu in Xinjiang', CGTN, 25 May 2021, online.140. Videos mainly featuring 'model' 'poverty-alleviation' projects are common products of the participants in the 'A Date with China' campaign and several other bloggers who are supportive of government policy in Xinjiang. Another example of this is several participants, including Wiggin[138] and Apesland,[139] making videos about the same date farm in a rural township north of Mekit County. This same farm has also been visited by CGTN foreign reporters[140] and was profiled by the China Daily newspaper.[141]
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142 See, for example, Nathan Vanderklippe, 'How the Globe slipped under Xinjiang's surveillance state to expose forced labour at Lop County industrial park', The Globe and Mail, 11 December 2020, online; Cate Cadell, 'In China's new Xinjiang: patriotic tourism, police and propaganda', Reuters, 19 July 2020, online.142. Among the videos uploaded by social media influencers visiting Xinjiang that we analysed, many show only small and limited sections of the cities being visited. For example, in a video of YChina's Raz Gal-Or titled 'I interviewed 10 random Xinjiang locals, this is what they told me', the initial shots are within 150 metres of Aksu International Hotel, and the most prominent shot is from a brief taxi drive back to the hotel (Figure 19). This is in stark contrast to the work of many foreign journalists in Xinjiang who go to considerable lengths to try to see large parts of the region.[142]
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143 Nathan Ruser, Documenting Xinjiang's detention system, ASPI, Canberra, September 2020, online.143. There are more than 385 diferent detention facilities that have been constructed or expanded since 2017 across Xinjiang.[143] Because this number is so high, many driving trips taken in Xinjiang will travel past a number of those facilities. The trips taken by many vloggers and influencers are no diferent.
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144 Xinjiang Data Project, 'Mekit facility #3', online; Mekit facility #2, online; Mekit facility #1, online; 'Mekit facility #6, online.144. A number of vloggers and influencers featured in this report visited several locations that would have required driving directly past a number of large-scale detention facilities. This fact directly contradicts the narrative of 'normality' many of them are pursuing and presenting about Xinjiang. For example, one location visited by a number of members of the 'A Date with China' campaign was a Mekit County forestation project. This project is roughly 20 kilometres out of Mekit town, and the main route requires visitors to drive directly past four large detention facilities, including one high-security prison (Figure 20).[144]
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145 FerMuBe, 'Our journey to Xinjiang 2021', YouTube, April 2021, online.145. Foreign influencers Fernando Munoz Bernal from Colombia and Noel Lee from Singapore also travelled together to Xinjiang in early April this year.[145] While both men were interviewed by local media, their trips dont appear to have been as highly choreographed as the previously described case studies, and Bernal specifically denies travelling with China Daily.[146] Both men used their trip to claim that Western governments and medias allegations of repression, forced labour and genocide in Xinjiang are false.[147]
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146 Lin Min, 'Untrue coverage prompts Colombian teachers to speak out' [],Shenzhen Daily, 15 May 2021, online146. Foreign influencers Fernando Munoz Bernal from Colombia and Noel Lee from Singapore also travelled together to Xinjiang in early April this year.[145] While both men were interviewed by local media, their trips dont appear to have been as highly choreographed as the previously described case studies, and Bernal specifically denies travelling with China Daily.[146] Both men used their trip to claim that Western governments and medias allegations of repression, forced labour and genocide in Xinjiang are false."[147]
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147 Noel Lee, 'Singaporean in XinJiang: GDTV world interview', YouTube, 30 April, 2021, online.147. Foreign influencers Fernando Munoz Bernal from Colombia and Noel Lee from Singapore also travelled together to Xinjiang in early April this year.[145] While both men were interviewed by local media, their trips dont appear to have been as highly choreographed as the previously described case studies, and Bernal specifically denies travelling with China Daily.[146] Both men used their trip to claim that Western governments and medias allegations of repression, forced labour and genocide in Xinjiang are false.[147]
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148 Lee, 'Singaporean in XinJiang: GDTV world interview'.148. However, among the usual depictions of food markets and dancing shows set in tourist locations such as the ancient city of Kashgar[148] and the Hotan Night Market,[149] one of the two influencers inadvertently recorded evidence of re-education facilities. Noel Lee released a video shot from a plane, showing his descent into rmqi International Airport.[150]
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152 'Buzeynep Abdureshit', Xinjiang Victims Database, Shahit, 2021, online.152. The video includes a highly detailed view of Midong Women's Prison, which is roughly 15 kilometres away from Urumqi International Airport (Figure 22). The prison is a high-profile detention facility where several prominent detainees are held, including the relatives of overseas Uyghurs, who had been detained as a part of the 2017 crackdown.[152]
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153 Geof Samek, 'Greater transparency for users around news broadcasters', YouTube Oficial Blog, 2 February 2018, online; Guy Rosen, Katie Harbath, Nathaniel Gleicher, Rob Leathern, 'Helping to protect the 2020 US elections', Facebook,21 October 2019, online; 'New labels for government and state-afiliated media accounts', Twitter, 6 August 2020, online.153. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter began providing contextual labels for state-funded media accounts between 2018 and 2020, largely as part of eforts to reduce the impact of foreign influence operations on US elections,[153] but subsequent reports have found that some of these policies remain inconsistently applied and problematic.[154]
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154 Ava Kofman, 'YouTube promised to label state-sponsored videos but doesn't always do so', ProPublica, 22 November 2019, online; Nicole Buckley, Morgan Wack, Joey Schafer, Martin Zhang, Inconsistencies in state-controlled media labeling, Election Integrity Partnership, 6 October 2020, online.154. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter began providing contextual labels for state-funded media accounts between 2018 and 2020, largely as part of eforts to reduce the impact of foreign influence operations on US elections,[153] but subsequent reports have found that some of these policies remain inconsistently applied and problematic.[154]
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156 'Frontline', Twitter, archived 2 August 2021, online.156. For example, a YouTube channel called 'Frontline' shared content from YChina's Raz Gal-Or in Xinjiang in which he was accompanied to cotton fields by a CGTN reporter.[155] The YouTube channel links to a Twitter account with the same name, which is labelled 'China state-afiliated media' and states 'Proud to work for China's national broadcaster (CGTN)'."[156]
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157 'Frontline', Facebook, archived 2 August 2021, online.157. For example, a YouTube channel called 'Frontline' shared content from YChina's Raz Gal-Or in Xinjiang in which he was accompanied to cotton fields by a CGTN reporter.[155] The YouTube channel links to a Twitter account with the same name, which is labelled 'China state-afiliated media' and states 'Proud to work for China's national broadcaster (CGTN)'.[156] It also links to a Facebook page[157] labelled with the 'China state-controlled media tag', and which changed its name from 'CGTN Frontline' to 'Frontline' on 4 September 2020. The same footage appears there with the state media tag (Figure 23)."[158]
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158 'Frontline', Facebook, archived 2 August 2021, online.158. For example, a YouTube channel called 'Frontline' shared content from YChina's Raz Gal-Or in Xinjiang in which he was accompanied to cotton fields by a CGTN reporter.[155] The YouTube channel links to a Twitter account with the same name, which is labelled 'China state-afiliated media' and states 'Proud to work for China's national broadcaster (CGTN)'."[156] It also links to a Facebook page[157] labelled with the 'China state-controlled media tag', and which changed its name from 'CGTN Frontline' to 'Frontline' on 4 September 2020. The same footage appears there with the state media tag (Figure 23)."[158]
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159 'Walking with Rachel: what's the latest trend in China's job market', CGTN, 14 November 2020, online.159. There are also discrepancies among the major US social media platforms as to how journalists apparently employed by state media are labelled. For example, 'Rachel' Zhou Yiqiu is labelled as a CGTN reporter in CGTN news clips (it is unclear if she is currently employed by the outlet),[159] but videos on a YouTube channel associated with the name 'Miss Wow China' are unlabelled.[160] 160:
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160 'Miss Wow', YouTube, archived 20 July 2021, online.160. The channel links to Twitter[161] and Instagram accounts,[162] which are also unlabelled. Posts on the linked Techy Rachel Facebook account,[163] however, are labelled 'China state-controlled media'. Her content from the 'A Date With China' trip on YouTube, including a video with German vlogger Patrick Kllmer[164] in which they discuss Xinjiang issues, does not indicate it was created as part of a state-sponsored trip or that she is afiliated with CGTN. On Facebook, the same video is tagged with a state media label (Figure 24).[165]
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161 'Miss Wow', Twitter, archived 20 July 2020, online.161. The channel links to Twitter[161] and Instagram accounts,[162] which are also unlabelled. Posts on the linked Techy Rachel Facebook account,[163] however, are labelled 'China state-controlled media'. Her content from the 'A Date With China' trip on YouTube, including a video with German vlogger Patrick Kllmer[164] in which they discuss Xinjiang issues, does not indicate it was created as part of a state-sponsored trip or that she is afiliated with CGTN. On Facebook, the same video is tagged with a state media label (Figure 24).[165]
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162 'miss_wow66', Instagram, archived 5 August 2021, online.162. The channel links to Twitter[161] and Instagram accounts,[162] which are also unlabelled. Posts on the linked Techy Rachel Facebook account,[163] however, are labelled 'China state-controlled media'. Her content from the 'A Date With China' trip on YouTube, including a video with German vlogger Patrick Kllmer[164] in which they discuss Xinjiang issues, does not indicate it was created as part of a state-sponsored trip or that she is afiliated with CGTN. On Facebook, the same video is tagged with a state media label (Figure 24).[165]
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163 'Techy Rachel', Facebook, archived 3 August 2021, online.163. The channel links to Twitter[161] and Instagram accounts,[162] which are also unlabelled. Posts on the linked Techy Rachel Facebook account,[163] however, are labelled 'China state-controlled media'. Her content from the 'A Date With China' trip on YouTube, including a video with German vlogger Patrick Kllmer[164] in which they discuss Xinjiang issues, does not indicate it was created as part of a state-sponsored trip or that she is afiliated with CGTN. On Facebook, the same video is tagged with a state media label (Figure 24).[165]
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165 Techy Rachel, 'Techy Rachel posted a video to the playlist Techy Xinjiang Trip', Facebook, 9 June 2021, online.165. Likewise, Stuart Wiggin is labelled as a People's Daily online reporter in China Daily videos about the 'A Date With China' tour to Xinjiang.[166]
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166 'Foreigners share impressions of Xinjiang (I)', China Daily, 27 May 2021, online.166. Nor does Wiggin indicate that he has links with state media on his YouTube 'About' page[167] or in the Xinjiang video captions as of 20 July 2021, or that he took part in an arranged trip. 168: To date, social media companies largely don't have clear policies on content from vloggers who aren't employed by state media full time but whose content may be facilitated in part by party-state media, such as through sponsored trips. YouTube does require content creators to inform the company about 'paid product placements, endorsements, sponsorships', for example."[168]
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167 'The China Traveler', YouTube, archived 20 July 2021, online.167. Nor does Wiggin indicate that he has links with state media on his YouTube 'About' page[167] or in the Xinjiang video captions as of 20 July 2021, or that he took part in an arranged trip. 168: To date, social media companies largely don't have clear policies on content from vloggers who aren't employed by state media full time but whose content may be facilitated in part by party-state media, such as through sponsored trips. YouTube does require content creators to inform the company about 'paid product placements, endorsements, sponsorships', for example."[168]
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168 'Add paid product placements, sponsorships & endorsements', YouTube, online.168. Nor does Wiggin indicate that he has links with state media on his YouTube 'About' page[167] or in the Xinjiang video captions as of 20 July 2021, or that he took part in an arranged trip. 168: To date, social media companies largely don't have clear policies on content from vloggers who aren't employed by state media full time but whose content may be facilitated in part by party-state media, such as through sponsored trips. YouTube does require content creators to inform the company about 'paid product placements, endorsements, sponsorships', for example."[168]
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169 China's telling Twitter story, China Media Project, 18 January 2021, online.169. The state media labels applied by Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have also been criticised for failing to distinguish between state media outlets and how they're owned and operated, even if they receive some level of state funding or are under a level of state control.[169] In China, for example, news outlets aren't monolithic in the type of reporting they do. YouTube, in particular, has stated that it makes no
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171 'Information panel providing publisher context', YouTube Help, online.171. 'It is not a comment by YouTube on the publisher's or video's editorial direction, or on a government's editorial influence.'[171] Another issue is that, as other reports have noted, state media labels aren't included in search results or YouTube's recommendation panel.[172]
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172 Buckley et al., Inconsistencies in state-controlled media labeling.172. 'It is not a comment by YouTube on the publisher's or video's editorial direction, or on a government's editorial influence.'[171] Another issue is that, as other reports have noted, state media labels aren't included in search results or YouTube's recommendation panel.[172]
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173 'Discover Xinjiang', Facebook, archived 2 August 2021, online.173. The issue of providing contextual labels to state-afiliated accounts also fails to capture accounts that may be operated by independent organisations that share state media or government propaganda and messages. One example is the Facebook page titled 'This is Xinjiang',[173]
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174 'About us' [], Beijing Jiandanshiji Culture Media Co. Ltd, archived 23 July 2021, online.174. Media Co. Ltd based in Chaoyang District, Beijing.[174]
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175 'Discover Xinjiang', Facebook, archived 2 August 2021, online.175. The 'Discover Xinjiang' Facebook page[175] also appears to be associated with this company, alongside Twitter accounts Tianshan Fairyland,[176] Discover Xinjiang[177] and possibly another blank Facebook page named Tianshan Fairyland (Figure 26).[178]
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176 'Tianshan Fairyland', Twitter, archived 5 August 2021, online.176. The 'Discover Xinjiang' Facebook page[175] also appears to be associated with this company, alongside Twitter accounts Tianshan Fairyland,[176] Discover Xinjiang[177] and possibly another blank Facebook page named Tianshan Fairyland (Figure 26).[178]
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177 'Discover Xinjiang', Twitter, archived 5 August 2021, online.177. The 'Discover Xinjiang' Facebook page[175] also appears to be associated with this company, alongside Twitter accounts Tianshan Fairyland,[176] Discover Xinjiang[177] and possibly another blank Facebook page named Tianshan Fairyland (Figure 26).[178]
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178 'Tianshan Fairyland', Facebook, archived 5 August 2021, online.178. The 'Discover Xinjiang' Facebook page[175] also appears to be associated with this company, alongside Twitter accounts Tianshan Fairyland,[176] Discover Xinjiang[177] and possibly another blank Facebook page named Tianshan Fairyland (Figure 26).[178]
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179 '20. Inauthentic behaviour', Facebook Community Standards, 2021, online.179. There's also some evidence that the Facebook pages of Discover Xinjiang may have been inauthentically amplified and breached Facebook's community standards.[179]
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180 'Discover Xinjiang', Facebook, archived 2 August 2021, online.180. There's also some evidence that the Facebook pages of Discover Xinjiang may have been inauthentically amplified and breached Facebook's community standards.[179] According to CrowdTangle, a Facebook post by Discover Xinjiang sharing episode 2 of the 'Xinjiang Diary' featuring a foreigner, Jay, received more than 37,000 views and 2,100 likes but only 14 shares and zero comments (Figure 29).[180] Jay doesn't appear to be afiliated with the other foreign influencers we have identified in this report or with the 'A Date with China' tour.
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181 'Discover Xinjiang', Facebook, 22 December 2020, online.181. behaviour was also observed on other Discover Xinjiang posts, including a post featuring episode 1 of the Xinjiang Diary.[181]
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182 Darkened screen: constraints on foreign journalists in China, PEN America, 22 September 2016, online.182. assistants.[182] Harassment of journalists in China in 2020 was particularly intense in Xinjiang, according to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China."[183]
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183 Track, trace, expel: reporting on China amid a pandemic, FCCC report on media freedom in 2020, Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, 2020, online.183. assistants.[182] Harassment of journalists in China in 2020 was particularly intense in Xinjiang, according to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China."[183] Correspondents were 'visibly followed by police or state security agents, asked to delete data from their devices, and prevented from talking to people'."
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184 Zhang et al., Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: the CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms.184. Leveraging the global reach of US social media networks is a central part of this international communication strategy. Our research has shown how the Chinese Government and party-state media are using US social media networks to seek to create greater ambiguity about the situation in Xinjiang, push a counter-narrative and amplify disinformation.[184]
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