The US State Department has released a report accusing the Chinese government of expanding efforts to control information and spread propaganda globally. The report, issued by the Global Engagement Center, warns of China’s potential to reshape the global information environment and promote “digital authoritarianism.” It alleges that Chinese President Xi Jinping has significantly increased efforts to shape the global information landscape, spending billions of dollars on foreign information manipulation. While China has not commented on the report’s details, the Chinese Embassy spokesperson accused it of spreading disinformation and being written with a Cold-War mentality.
According to the report, China’s control tactics not only target its domestic population but also have a particular focus on Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The report highlights examples of Chinese efforts to control information, such as agreements with local newspapers to publish paid articles promoting Chinese interests and pre-programming smartphones to censor certain phrases. It also mentions cyberattacks and threats against overseas Uyghurs, as well as cooperation with Russia to spread disinformation about Ukraine. The report concludes that if China’s operations are not countered, it could reshape the international order to the detriment of individual liberties and national sovereignty worldwide.
The release of this report reflects growing concerns about China’s influence on the global information landscape. The US State Department and the Global Engagement Center see China as a key rival in the battle over ideas and disinformation. The report highlights China’s efforts to control information and shape narratives in its favor, both overtly and covertly. It emphasizes the need to prevent the destruction of democratic values and the secure world of rules and rights, calling for resistance against China’s attempts to reshape the international order. It remains to be seen how this report will impact global perceptions of China’s information control tactics and whether countries will take actions to counteract them.