Policy report

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using technology to enforce transnational digital repression and influence unwitting audiences beyond China’s territory. This includes using increasingly sophisticated online tactics to deny, distract from and deter revelations or claims of human rights abuses, including the arbitrary detention, mass sterilisation and cultural degradation of minorities in Xinjiang. Instead of improving its treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities, the CCP is responding to critiques of its current actions against human rights by coordinating its state propaganda apparatus, security agencies and public relations industry to silence and shape Xinjiang narratives at home and abroad.

Central to the CCP’s efforts is the exploitation of US-based social media and content platforms. CCP online public diplomacy is bolstered by covert and coercive campaigns that impose costs and seek to constrain international entities—be they states, corporations or individuals—from offering evidence-based critiques of the party-state’s record on human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong and other sensitive issues. This asymmetric access to US-based social media platforms allows the CCP to continue testing online tactics, measuring responses and improving its influence and interference capabilities, in both overt and covert ways, across a spectrum of topics.

The impact of these operations isn’t widely understood, and the international community has failed to adequately respond to the global challenges posed by the CCP’s rapidly evolving propaganda and disinformation operations. This report seeks to increase awareness about this problem based on publicly available information.

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Policy Brief Report No.62/2022