Russia War in Ukraine: An alarming amount of pro-Russian content originates from China, analysts say

A new study has revealed that the vast majority of pro-Russia disinformation comes from a single country.

A new study in Chinese state media has highlighted several instances of proliferation of pro-Russian disinformation through numerous channels around the world.

An analysis conducted by NewsGuard, an organization dedicated to eliminating online propaganda, warned of the widespread impact China-run news channels have on social media.

Despite being banned in China, over half a billion Facebook users now follow state-owned outlets affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party.

NewsGuardThe research included social media posts from China-Xinhua News claiming that Ukraine has been experimenting with bat coronaviruses with US support.

This came after previous claims that Ukraine had received support from Washington for manufacturing biological weapons in laboratories.

The news agency, which NewsGuard says is circulating pro-Russian content in Chinese communities around the world, has more than 92 million followers on Facebook, nearly four times the population of Australia.

Additional Chinese newspaper posts also repeated the Kremlin’s line that Russian troops were not responsible for the killings of civilians in Bucha, which included refuting the attack on Mariupol maternity hospital.

Analysts believe the massive push from the state-backed media is an attempt to twist the global narrative in favor of Russia.

“The English-language Facebook page of Chinese state broadcaster CGTN has 117 million followers. Its French-language counterpart, CGTN Français, has 20 million followers. China Daily and The Global Times, both Chinese English-language newspapers, have 104 million and 67 million followers on Facebook, respectively, “NewsGuard said in its report.

For context, NPR (based in the US) has fewer than 8 million followers and The Daily Mail, which is consistently one of the busiest publications on the platform, has 21.7 million followers.

“By far the most important narrative pushed by these sources has been that the United States runs biological laboratories in Ukraine that are developing biological weapons, a claim the Kremlin has repeatedly used to justify its invasion of Ukraine.”

NewsGuard said it tracked down 74 English-language posts on Chinese state media Facebook accounts that mentioned biolabs claiming their purpose was “to create a mechanism for the covert spread of the deadliest pathogens.”

“Despite the efforts of the Chinese government to present themselves as neutral in the Russia-Ukraine war, the vast majority (77%) of the YouTube videos containing disinformation identified by NewsGuard were from Chinese state-owned media, “the report reads.

Russian-backed media have regularly moved to downplay the situation in Ukraine despite growing international tension. In an analysis of 11 days of news coverage from April 11-22, NewsGuard could find no use of the word “war”.

“Russian soldiers were victorious ‘defenders’, Ukrainians were ‘Nazis’ and Western military support for Ukraine was hypocritical and useless,” NewsGuard said.

“The coverage was largely focused on four themes: the heroism and strength of the Russian army, the aggression of the Ukrainian army, Russian humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians and Western military aid to Ukraine.”

Russia’s information warfare against Ukraine was heavily criticized following Vladimir Putin’s invasion in February 2022. However, efforts to influence the Ukrainian public from within are according to Cambridge University media analysts. losers.

Since 2014, Russia has injected thousands of pieces of pro-Moscow propaganda into Ukraine in an attempt to trick the largely Russian-speaking population into believing in a future under their control.

In his study, Dr Jon Roozenbeek analyzed over 85,000 articles published by 30 local and regional outlets between Donetsk and Luhansk between 2014 and 2017.

Using an advanced artificial intelligence called “natural language processing”, Dr. Roozenbeek recorded a number of patterns in the content, including keywords and phrases related to the demonization of the Ukrainian state.

Dr Roozenbeek said 36% of the print coverage in the Donbas was devoted to identity-shaping propaganda to perpetuate an “us and them” mentality against the existing establishment.

The research also found repeated use of the idea of ​​”Novorossiya” (meaning “New Russia”), a historical concept long held by Putin.

“Eight years of Russian propaganda failed to provide a convincing alternative to Ukrainian nationality in eastern Ukraine,” said Dr Roozenbeek. “The invasion was a strategic and logistical disaster.

“Despite the importance given to the construction of identity and ideology after the Russian-backed takeover of Luhansk and Donetsk, even as directed by the Kremlin, very little identity has been promoted within the group.

“What identity-building propaganda I was able to find in the Donbas after 2014 was vague, ill-conceived and quickly forgotten.”

Originally published as Analysts reveal an alarming amount of pro-Russian content comes from China