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How China’s cyber samurais are waging a narrative war against India

China has been accused of using social media platforms for launching anti-India propaganda

Scarcely monitored, China’s cyber warriors continue to wage war of narratives and disinformation against India on social media. Hundreds of such social media accounts are active in different guises to portray India as an aggressive power in the Himalayas, repressive regime in New Delhi and a bully to its weaker neighbours like Nepal and Pakistan.

New Delhi-based fact-checking portal www.dfrac.org has tracked Chinese disinformation campaigns against India since 2021 onwards. A series of reports on this portal expose that Chinese are active on every social media platform – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. – and pounce on every opportunity to weave anti-India propaganda.

According to dfrac.com, even people linked to Communist Party of China (CPC) directly run or manage such propaganda accounts.

One such Chinese propaganda cluster is South Asia Index that doubles as a website and an official Twitter page with the same name. Official introduction of the page says that it focuses on the economy, politics, diplomacy, defence, climate change & other matters of South Asia.

However, a simple glance on its timeline exposes that it is an agenda-driven tool. Every second post on the page highlights something negative about India – be it demonising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, atrocities of Indian armed forces in Kashmir, Pakistan prospering as a state, China emerging as the most favoured government-system world over, and the like.

One interesting aspect of the South Asia Index’s modus operandi is that they manage to make some fake news about India viral in certain circles. When some children had died in Gambia allegedly after consuming India-manufactured cough syrup, the Index ran a story that 99 children died of India-made syrup in Indonesia. It was circulated among South-East Asian web circles until Indian fact-checking websites like dfrac.com debunked the claim.

Another example of China making India the target of its propaganda was when the Dalai Lama was photographed in April kissing a kid and asking him to suck his tongue apparently in a playful manner. The Chinese social media army pounced on this opportunity to paint the Tibetan spiritual leader and his host India in the filthiest colour. They ran social media campaigns in all continents calling the Dalai Lama a deplorable pedophile who deserves to be exiled and punished for his crimes.

Nin Sun (@NinSiv4), a Chinese, whose account shows the location as Paris, said on his account: “I am the first person who has exposed the Dalai Lama as a pedophile in English. Don’t be a pedophile supporter.”

Another twitter handle probably based in Sri Lanka (as it highlights Chinese philanthropy and investment too often) is @BattlementLK and it seems to be run by well-informed and serious propagandists. They highlight rarely known facts of history to show that India has been an aggressive civilization and that its politics reflects that aggression towards non-Indians (read non-Hindus). Its most recent tweet on August 6 was a dig at the increasing membership size of the BJP.

“You can become a member of India’s BJP by sending a text message. Joining the CPC requires a probation period where endorsements from other party members and approval of several party organisations are necessary for you to qualify as a member,” it read.

All these above-mentioned accounts are part of the vast Chinese network that is scattered all-over the world and, as locations of twitter handles suggest, operate from all major cities of the world.

Confirming this, the New York Times last week published its investigative report highlighting how China, via a network run by an Indian origin American billionaire, peddles its narratives and “funds” media organisations even based in New Delhi.

Also Read: China exploiting global social media platforms to influence foreign audience