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US says China spending billions on information manipulation

The United States has alleged that China was spending billions of dollars annually to manipulate information and “reshape” the global information environment.

According to the Global Engagement Center Special Report of the US State Department, Beijing has been expanding efforts to spread “false or biased” information to promote positive views on their country and the  Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

It said China was also suppressing information that contradicts their narratives on issues including Taiwan, its human rights practices, the South China Sea, its domestic economy, and international economic engagement.

“The People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s approach to information manipulation includes leveraging propaganda and censorship, promoting digital authoritarianism, exploiting international organizations and bilateral partnerships, pairing cooptation and pressure, and exercising control of Chinese-language media,” the report read.

“Collectively, these five elements could enable Beijing to reshape the global information environment along multiple axes: overt and covert influence over content and platforms; constraints on global freedom of expression; and an emerging community of digital authoritarians,” it added.

GMA News Online has sought comment from the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

The US State Department further warned of the global impact on the supposed information manipulation, describing it as a “challenge to the integrity of the global information space”.

“Unchecked, Beijing’s efforts could result in a future in which technology exported by the PRC, coopted local governments, and fear of Beijing’s direct retaliation produce a sharp contraction of global freedom of expression,” the report said.

“Multilateral fora and select bilateral relationships would amplify Beijing’s preferred narratives on issues such as Taiwan and the international economy. Access to global data combined with the latest developments in artificial intelligence technology would enable the PRC to surgically target foreign audiences and thereby perhaps influence economic and security decisions in its favor,” it added.

“Lastly, Beijing’s global censorship efforts would result in a highly curated international information environment characterized by gaps and inherent pro-PRC biases,” it said.

The US Department said Beijing’s alleged propaganda efforts yielded mixed results, with local media and civil societies pushing back in domestic countries.

“Global understanding of PRC information manipulation is a starting point for a future in which the PRC’s ideas, values, and stories must compete on an even playing field,” it said. —NB, GMA Integrated News