In a recent article, the New York Times outlines how the Chinese government encourages online influencers, especially western YouTubers living in China, to spread pro-Beijing messages worldwide.
The New York Times reports in an article titled “How Beijing Influences the Influencers,” that China is utilizing online influencers and YouTubers to promote pro-Beijing and pro-communist messages across the internet. The Times outlines how seemingly independent western influencers are funded by the Chinese government to promote the communist country. The trend is illustrated with the case of British ex-pats Lee and Oli Barrett.
The Barretts are part of a crop of new social media personalities who paint cheery portraits of life as foreigners in China — and also hit back at criticisms of Beijing’s authoritarian governance, its policies toward ethnic minorities and its handling of the coronavirus.
The videos have a casual, homespun feel. But on the other side of the camera often stands a large apparatus of government organizers, state-controlled news media and other official amplifiers — all part of the Chinese government’s widening attempts to spread pro-Beijing messages around the planet.
State-run news outlets and local governments have organized and funded pro-Beijing influencers’ travel, according to government documents and the creators themselves. They have paid or offered to pay the creators. They have generated lucrative traffic for the influencers by sharing videos with millions of followers on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Most of the influencers have lived in China for many years and claim that their aim is to counter the West’s negative perceptions of the country. They claim that their videos are made entirely independently and not influenced by the Chinese government.
But even if that’s the case, it doesn’t stop Chinese diplomats and government officials from heavily promoting the pro-Beijing content. Six of the most popular pro-Beijing influencers have garnered more than 130 million views on YouTube thanks in part to promotion by the Chinese government.
Read more at the New York Times here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address [email protected]