(Minghui.org) China has a large internet army. A CNN report on October 7, 2013, estimated that about two million people were employed to monitor online opinion (the title of the article is “China 'employs 2 million to police internet'”). A 2016 Harvard study estimated that China's internet police posts about 488 million social media comments per year, as reported by BBC on May 20, 2016, in an article titled “China 'flooding' social media with fake posts.”

In China and elsewhere, the army is known as the “50 Cent Party” (a reference to the reward received per post) or “China’s Internet Water Army” (named after its invisible nature and mission of muddying the waters). In addition to promoting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the army also suppresses opinions from dissidents, Falun Gong practitioners, and other religious groups.

A Guiding Document

The internet army's operation is highly secretive. But a document recently circulating on the internet provides a glimpse into the ongoing anti-America campaign related to the coronavirus. The title of the document is “FAQ on guidelines for US-related propaganda during the coronavirus pandemic.” Below is a translation of the two-page document.

Q: If there is no outbreak in the U.S., what should we do?A: Focus on the angle that coronavirus is a bio-warfare launched by the U.S. against the Chinese people. Be aware that only our own, pro-CCP media is allowed to do the propaganda. 

Q: If a large-scale epidemic occurs in the U.S., how to handle it?A: We need to emphasize that the American political system is not suitable for epidemic control. In the meantime, we should highly praise the advantage of the political system in China. 

Q: If the epidemic breaks out in the U.S. on a limited scale, what should we do?A: We can indicate that the American people cannot afford the coronavirus test, which leads to a lower number of confirmed cases. 

Q: What if the number of deaths is low in the U.S?A: Then focus on the death rates of other diseases. 

Q: What if the death rate in the U.S. also dropped like in China?A: We can point out that the U.S. government is manipulating data and counts coronavirus cases as flu cases [to lower the death rate]. 

Q: What if an effective medicine is developed in the U.S.?A: We can highlight the high cost of the U.S. healthcare system and remind the reader of the low cost of medical care in China. 

Q: What to do if Americans criticize their government?A: We can point out that the political system in the U.S. has failed to reflect public opinion, hence the criticism of the government.

Q: What if Americans do not criticize their government?A: We can indicate that the U.S. Government is covering up the coronavirus cases to mislead the public. 

Q: What if conflict between the two political parties [democrats and republicans] intensifies because of coronavirus?A: We can say the American political system is like a dogfight and is unable to concentrate on important things. 

Q: What if the two U.S. parties work together to combat the coronavirus?A: We can point out that the two-party system in the U.S. is hypocritical and deceiving. 

Q: What if in the end, the U.S. has lower numbers of confirmed cases, deaths, and death rates? What should we do?A: We should emphasize that the great sacrifice made by China has saved the world. 

“An Alternative Universe of Information”

This document shocked ordinary Chinese citizens. “This made me speechless,” one person wrote. “It helps me to recognize what posts are from the 50 Cent Party,” another person wrote.

The contents of the FAQ are consistent with China’s overall strategy on coronavirus: 1) diverting the Chinese citizens' attention to the coronavirus spread outside of China; 2) bragging about the CCP's capability in controlling the epidemic; and, 3) shifting the blame to the U.S. by spreading conspiracy theories that the virus actually originated in the U.S.

Tseng Chien-yuan, Chairman of the New School For Democracy, said it is absurd for China to lie about the origin of the pandemic. Nonetheless, he was surprised to see how tactful the CCP is in producing such systematic, false information on the internet to manipulate public opinion.

In addition to producing misleading information inside China, evidence shows that China's internet army also spreads falsified information overseas. “Beijing is working very hard to create an alternative universe of information,” reported Quartz in an August 21, 2019 article titled “China’s propaganda machine is spending over $1 million to buy influence on foreign social media.”