We’ve written and posted numerous articles on the Hong Kong protests since ChinaDailyNews opened August 10, 2019 – undoubtedly more than on any other topic. It is our sincere hope that in the future, Hong Kong will achieve true freedom, and we won’t be writing about protests in Hong Kong, but rather, about the freedom, success, and prosperity of Hong Kong and its citizens.
Until then, we will – must – continue writing about Hong Kong and its troubled relationship with the Beijing government.
One aspect of that troubled relationship is the disinformation – lies – promulgated by Chinese state-controlled media sources about any number of topics, including Hong Kong and the protesters. The disinformation serves several purposes: 1) to cover up misdeeds by the Chinese government, the CCP, and its agents; 2) to attempt to discredit opposition and blunt criticism of China and the CCP; 3) to steer public opinion, both domestically and internationally, in favor of China, the CCP, and their policies; 4) failing that, to confuse people and muddy the waters, so that people don’t know what the truth of an issue is; 5) and many other purposes, no doubt.
In raising this, we want to make a clear – very clear – distinction between the Chinese government/Chinese Communist Party and the people of China. In no way are we saying that the people of China – the laobaixing as they are known in Mandarin Chinese – are involved in any way with the CCP’s disinformation.
Nevertheless, that disinformation is pervasive and rampant across many media sources and taking many forms. Let’s take a look at some from just today.
British consulate staff member (and Hong Kong citizen), Simon Cheng, has been detained in China for several days. The consulate had heard nothing about him until today, when the Global Times Editor-in-Chief said he was detained for visiting a prostitute.
Could that be true? Certainly, but his family says that is isn’t.
Who to believe? Well, given the Chinese media’s track record, and the additional detail provided in the Hong Kong Free Press article, it is a whole lot easier to believe Simon Cheng’s family than the editor of the Global Times. Even if Cheng was with a woman, it could very well be an instance of the honeypot trap.
In 2009, the British MI5 distributed a 14-page document to hundreds of British banks, businesses, and financial institutions, titled “The Threat from Chinese Espionage”. It described a wide-ranging Chinese effort to blackmail Western business people over sexual relationships. The document explicitly warns that Chinese intelligence services are trying to cultivate “long-term relationships” and have been known to “exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships … to pressurise individuals to co-operate with them.” Wikipedia article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_trapping
Until Simon Cheng is released, we don’t know his side of the story, and even then, there might be more going on in this story than it appears. Little that Chinese state-controlled media says about anything controversial can be taken at face value.
More evidence of that fact appeared today, when Google announced that 210 YouTube accounts connected to China’s disinformation campaign aimed at the Hong Kong protests had been removed.
Earlier this week, as part of our ongoing efforts to combat coordinated influence operations, we disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter. Google blog post on YouTube account removal
We had posted previously on Twitter and Facebook removing phony accounts; now Google says that YouTube accounts were also a part of the CCP’s disinformation campaign. It isn’t surprising at all. Take everything said on any controversial topic by Chinese state-run media not just with a grain of salt, take it with a whole pound of salt.