The State Department has accused China of using deceptive and coercive methods to shape the global information environment. In a report by the department’s Global Engagement Center, it is claimed that China acquires stakes in foreign newspapers and television networks, uses major social media platforms to promote its views, and pressures international organizations and media outlets to silence critics of Beijing. The report warns that China’s information operations pose a security challenge to the United States and democratic principles worldwide. The report also highlights China’s export of digital surveillance tools to police information and people online.
According to the report, China’s efforts have evolved from promoting its political views on issues like Taiwan and Hong Kong to spreading disinformation to discredit the United States at home and abroad. China is accused of spreading false claims about the origins of the Covid pandemic, the US-Australia security partnership, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The report also mentions China’s use of artificial intelligence in its information campaigns, noting that this tool could greatly enhance its efforts.
China’s control over information internally is virtually absolute, and now it is expanding its influence abroad. The report highlights China’s spending of billions of dollars to build a state news operation and its investments in media organizations in various countries, including the Czech Republic, Australia, and Thailand. China has also become a leading provider of digital television services in Africa through a Chinese company called StarTimes. While the State Department’s report is largely based on public information, it also includes references to knowledge seemingly based on classified information.
Despite resistance encountered in other countries, the report suggests that China’s Communist Party remains committed to reshaping the international environment to suit its political goals. The impact of China’s information campaigns is difficult to measure, but it is believed that China will continue its efforts and potentially double down on its use of artificial intelligence in information operations.