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Washington is the global champion of disinformation

By Chen Weihua | | Updated: 2024-03-21 13:30
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Cai Meng/China Daily

Ever wonder why you have read and heard so much negative news about China in the last few years? Some examples: The Belt and Road Initiative is a debt trap; China has been committing cultural genocide in the Xinjiang and Xizang China is the biggest threat to regional and global security.

An explosive Reuters' report last week revealed but just the tip of the iceberg of the reckless US disinformation and smear campaign against China.
According to the report, US President Donald Trump authorized the Central Intelligence Agency in 2019 to launch a clandestine campaign on Chinese social media to turn public opinion in China against the government.
According to three former US officials, the CIA formed a small team of operatives who used fake internet identities to spread negative narratives about the Chinese government while "leaking" disparaging intelligence to overseas news outlets.

The fact that the US administration and the CIA have declined to comment on the Reuters report shows a tacit admission of guilt by them. Lest we forget, the US has spared no efforts in recent years to accuse countries such as China and Russia of spreading disinformation. If you search on the internet, you will get innumerable such stories, reports, seminars and speeches by US officials, from President Biden to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The Global Engagement Center created by the US State Department in 2016 and now headed by James Rubin, a former State Department spokesman and ex-husband of CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour, claims its mission is to fight foreign disinformation, but its real aim is perhaps to help maintain the US' position as the global leader of disinformation.

Shortly before the Reuters' exposure, the US intelligence community released its annual threat assessment, accusing China of trying to influence the 2024 US presidential election.

The above developments are nothing but the US administration's efforts to cover its covert disinformation campaign against China.

The Reuters report is similar to the exposure of the US Republican Senate memo in April 2020 which directed its members to blame China for the COVID-19 outbreak and avoid discussing the then president Donald Trump's handling of the public health crisis.

There is no doubt that the US is the global leader of disinformation. In fact, the disinformation and smear campaigns by the Democrats and Republicans against each other in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election show how skillful US politicians are in playing such dirty games.

Biden surely knows how dirty the accusations and counter-accusations are because, according to a CNN poll in July 2023, 69 percent of Republican members and Republican-leaning voters said his win in 2020 presidential election was not legitimate.

The US' news outlets and think tanks are often used as geopolitical tools in such government disinformation campaigns. CNN national security correspondent Kylie Atwood said, rather confessed, in a Brookings talk in March 2021 that "we're going to use all the rhetoric we have to make them (China) look like the bad guy on the world stage", with fellow participants, Ryan Hass and Evan Osnos nodding their head.

The US possesses the most powerful disinformation weapons given its dominance of the global media landscape, including its control of popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter).
It's true that the US administration's disinformation campaign targeting China has somewhat succeeded in fooling many American people as well people in countries which are US allies and believe in the lies about China and Russia, because Washington wields outsized influence thanks to the reach of its media outlets and think tanks.

When I asked the European Commission spokesman this week about Reuters' revelatory report and its impact on the European Union, he declined to give any direct answer. Nonetheless, the Reuters' exposure is an awakening call for the EU and other economies which have for too long played along with the US and thus promoted the US' disinformation campaign against China.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

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