Policy report

This report analyses two Chinese state-linked networks seeking to influence discourse about Xinjiang across platforms including Twitter and YouTube. This activity targeted the Chinese-speaking diaspora, as well as international audiences, sharing content in a variety of languages.

Both networks attempted to shape international perceptions about Xinjiang, among other themes. Despite evidence to the contrary, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) denies committing human rights abuses in the region and has mounted multifaceted and multiplatform information campaigns to deny accusations of forced labour, mass detention, surveillance, sterilisation, cultural erasure and alleged genocide in the region.

In the datasets examined, inauthentic and potentially automated accounts using a variety of image and video content shared content aimed at rebutting the evidence of human rights violations against the Uyghur population. Likewise, content was shared using fake Uyghur accounts and other shell accounts promoting video ‘testimonials’ from Uyghurs talking about their happy lives in China.

Key findings:

  • Different strands of CCP online and offline information operations now interweave to create an increasingly coordinated propaganda ecosystem made up of CCP officials, state and regional media assets, outsourced influence-for-hire operators, social media influencers and covert information operations.
  • The involvement of the CCP’s regional government in Xinjiang in international-facing disinformation suggests that internal party incentive structures are driving devolved strands of information operations activity.
  • The CCP deploys online disinformation campaigns to distract from international criticisms of its policies and to attempt to reframe concepts such as human rights. It aligns the timing of those campaigns to take advantage of moments of strategic opportunity in the information domain.


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Policy Brief Report No.54/2021