The People’s Republic of China (PRC) rejected a US State Department report claiming that the PRC supports the global spread of disinformation on Saturday. A PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson, quoted by the Xinhua news agency, said that the “report is in itself disinformation as it misrepresents facts and truth.”
The spokesperson accused the US of inventing the “weaponization of the global information space.” They pointed to US propaganda used during the Cold War and more recently, the publicizing of “evidence” used to “wage wars of aggression in Iraq and Syria.” The official also claimed the US is spreading an “enormous lie” related to China’s Xinjiang policy and the alleged genocide of the Uyghurs, adding that the US is trying to create enough lies to “blind” the world while “pin[ning] the label of disinformation” on someone else.
The report, released Thursday, claims the PRC uses “a variety of deceptive and coercive methods,” to influence international perception of the Chinese state. Among the allegations are claims that the PRC has acquired interest in foreign media outlets. This interest is used to direct positive messaging related to the PRC and “coopt” prominent voices presenting alternative views.
Another claim involves use of “digital authoritarianism.” The PRC is accused of censoring critics via online platforms, cracking down on suspected online “rumors” and asking people to report “misinformation” about the country. TikTok is cited as a prime example of censorship. The report alleges that the Chinese company that owns the platform “seeks to block critics of Beijing,” by updating lists of users creating unfavorable content.
The report also outlines future impacts of the PRC’s alleged spread of disinformation, claiming that as the PRC’s influence grows, it will become more difficult for sovereign states to push back without fear of retaliation in the form of economic or technology restrictions. However, the US urges nations that this can be avoided by predicating relationships with the PRC on “fact-based assessments of their sovereign interests.”