The Chinese Communist Party’s Misinformation Campaign Through WeChat
(Minghui.org) In addition to covering up information about the Wuhan coronavirus since day one, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been spreading misinformation on WeChat and other platforms, in attempts to shift the blame of the pandemic to other countries and control public opinion.
WeChat was first released in 2011 and quickly grew to be one of the largest mobile apps, with over 1 billion monthly active users.
The app boasts convenient communication tools such as picture and video sharing, as well as mobile payment function. It has evolved into a super app that the Chinese people rely heavily on in their daily life. In addition to communicating with their families, friends and colleagues at work, they also use it for shopping and making payments, including dining, taking a taxi or even buying street food.
The popularity of WeChat in mainland China also pushed more overseas Chinese to start using it to stay in touch with their families and friends in China.
With its fast-growing user base, WeChat has also served as a very handy tool for the CCP to monitor the app users and send out misinformation to control public opinion on certain issues.
For those overseas Chinese who don’t read western media or bother to understand the difference between a free society and a totalitarian state, they are susceptible to the CCP’s brainwashing trap.
In recent weeks, several messages circulating on WeChat about the coronavirus pandemic offer a glimpse into the scale and depth of the CCP’s reach to overseas Chinese.
In the above messages that were seen in WeChat groups in Japan, France, Inner Mongolia and the U.S., the authors used the same template and only changed the country’s name (underlined in red) in the messages.
The message read, “The epidemic in (country’s name) is out of control now. I heard from a friend working in (country’s name)’s hospital that countless people come to the hospital every day. But they don’t have the testing kits and have to send the patients home. In (country’s name), the majority of their population is aging. Countless people have died at their own homes. They wouldn’t be included in confirmed cases if they were never tested. That’s why (country’s name) kept such a low infection rate. It’s just too scary. I’ve booked my return flight to China. At critical times, we have to focus our resources on doing big things.”
After seeing this message, many Chinese people rushed back to China, even when the one-way ticket price has increased to 180,000 yuan (about 25,000 USD) in some cases.
The above messages are identical except for the country mentioned. The same person, surnamed “Huang,” has reportedly lived in dozens of countries, such as Argentina, Korea, Turkey, Brazil, Belgium, Zimbabwe, Portugal, South Africa, and Cameron, for nearly ten years. The same “Huang” returned to China to visit family for two weeks.
On February 6, “Huang” supposedly flew out of a dozen places in China, including Guangdong, Liaoning, Tianjin, or Fujian, and then arrived in different countries. “His family” in different countries received “him” at the airports, who all wore masks. “Huang” said he did not believe he had the virus but decided to stay at home for a voluntary quarantine, as that was the only way to prevent the virus from spreading to his adopted countries.
For those who happen to encounter all of those almost identical messages, it is not hard to see it is impossible for the same person to appear in different countries at the same time. But these messages may fool people who only see one of such messages.
China's Propaganda Campaign to Portray Itself a Hero
Geng Shuang, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said, “We will strengthen cooperation with other countries in response to the COVID-19 challenge and together build a community with a shared future for mankind.”
Graeme Smith, a China expert from the Australian National University (ANU) told the Australian media ABC that, “This is used to play into the regime’s narrative that rather than having been the source and the cause of the outbreak, China is both the narrative for how to control it, and effectively saving the world from this pandemic.”
He also added that “It is about controlling the domestic narrative in China, rather than necessarily being about global altruism.”
Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the Hawaii-based East-West Centre, echoed in the same report that “China could be seeking to bolster its reputation as ‘a responsible country,’ at a time when other nations appeared to be scrambling.”
“This is why China has so strenuously pushed the notions that the disease is contained in China, that China did the rest of the world a favour by acting quickly and effectively, and that China is now a major international benefactor by giving medical suppliers to other virus-hit countries,” Roy said.
Related article in Chinese:“病毒来自美国”-谁把谎言撒遍社区