Throughout the Winter Olympics, a swarm of western social media influencers, each with hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok, Instagram, or Twitch, will propagate favorable news about China. Concerned about the worldwide backlash against the Beijing Olympics, which has resulted in a wave of diplomatic boycotts, the administration has employed western public relations experts to disseminate a counter-narrative via social media.
With the slogan “Together for a Shared Future,” China’s governing Communist Party and the International Olympic Committee are hoping that the spats would fade away once the Games begin.
Last month, it was discovered that the Chinese government spent $300,000 to Vippi Media, a public relations agency located in the United States, to seek the services of influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. The deal, which was registered with the US Department of Justice, would see many online influencers generate three to five pro-China pieces of material for their social media followers from March 2022 to March 2023.
China has been hiring social media influencers to promote “Beijing and China components,” such as Beijing’s history, cultural relics, current lives of people, new trends, Chinese athletes’ training, and “touching moments,” according to an OpenSecrets report. At least 20% of the postings focusing on “cooperation and any good aspects in China-US ties” are required to be shared by the influencers. They are also supposed to emphasize “cooperation” on themes such as “climate change, biodiversity, new energy,” and “positive performances” in their content.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t China’s sole attempt at internet manipulation to clean its image in the world. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has previously claimed that it had deactivated hundreds of accounts tied to Chinese influence activities. According to reports, the activities propagated false information on COVID-19 and even claimed that the US pressed the WHO to put the virus’s origins on China.