European Study Blasts Russia, China For COVID Disinformation
China and Russia have pushed disinformation and propaganda about the origins of COVID-19, unproven cures for the disease, and the efficacy of vaccines aimed at winning over foreign audiences and sowing distrust toward Western governments since the emergence of the deadly virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan two years ago, a new study shows.
Photo Insert: "China borrowed some tools from Russia but used them for different ends, sanitizing its own record and spreading conspiracy theories on a global scale."
The strategies used by Chinese and Russian politicians and how their state media outlets carry out these campaigns is the focus of a new study from the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) released on December 2, Reid Standish reported for the US-controlled Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE-RL).
The study found that while China and Russia have played a central role in spreading COVID-related disinformation and propaganda, they have followed largely separate strategies.
It said, however, that the two countries have recently borrowed from and amplified each other's campaigns.
While Beijing has mobilized its array of multilingual state media, social media platforms, government officials, and online networks to try to convince the world that it should not be blamed for the pandemic and that China is the most effective global partner in combating the virus, Russian disinformation networks have largely sought to undermine faith in Western efforts to fight COVID-19 and exacerbate tensions, the study finds.
"Russia largely followed its preexisting playbook of using crises to inflame tensions in foreign societies," the report states.
"China borrowed some tools from Russia but used them for different ends, sanitizing its own record and spreading conspiracy theories on a global scale."
The CEPA report aims to build upon previous studies and understand how the countries' stepped-up efforts have evolved during the pandemic by compiling a 144,000-piece database to analyze articles and social-media messaging from Chinese and Russian government officials and state-backed media from March 2020 through March 2021.