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  • (Speaking Chinese) Good evening.

  • The Chinese government has one of the most extensive propaganda networks in the world inside the country, but it also aggressively works to influence how it's perceived outside its borders.

  • "Good morning, President Xi!"

  • China has invested billions into bolstering its image abroad.

  • Its state-run news outlets push out messages in English around the clock.

  • "You're watching CGTN."

  • "Live in Beijing."

  • "From Nairobi."

  • "Washington, D.C."

  • And its diplomats have flocked to Twitter in the last year.

  • But what happens when this massive P.R. apparatus has to do major damage control?

  • We analyzed thousands of tweets from Chinese state media and official accounts and found three dominant messages China wants to project to the world.

  • Here's what we learned. [Theme 1: Spinning Optimism.]

  • A novel coronavirus hit the Chinese city of Wuhan in January.

  • Early whistleblowers were silenced.

  • People were angry about a government cover-up.

  • (Speaking Chinese) No hospital beds! No medicine!

  • (Speaking Chinese) All the news on CCTV is fake!

  • But in the majority of tweets we analyzed, state-owned publications pushed a much more optimistic view, promoting what they said was an effective response.

  • They are sharing videos like this.

  • (Speaking Chinese) Since makeshift hospitals have started receiving patients.

  • (Speaking Chinese) Patients can not only get free treatment but also free food.

  • (Speaking Chinese) In addition, some people have also been organizing square dances.

  • The Chinese Communist Party refers to this as positive energy, only focusing on the bright side of an issue.

  • China did take drastic measures to try and stem the outbreak, but that's the only story China wants the world to see.

  • And state media is eager to run praise from foreign experts to back up China's successes.

  • It's a remarkable response that's being organized in China to contain the virus.

  • One tweet from state media that did reveal Chinese citizens' discontentit was quickly deleted.

  • [Theme 2: Protecting China's Image.]

  • Once the virus spread across the world, China started positioning itself as being at the forefront of fighting the pandemic.

  • It presented itself as a partner, a grateful recipient, and more recently a selfless leader, highlighting large donations from Chinese companies and the government.

  • (Speaking Chinese) Stay strong, China. Stay strong, Japan.

  • China hasn't typically disparaged other countries' responses to the virus, with one exceptionthe United States.

  • "President Donald Trump has been accused of denying, downplaying and outright rejecting the concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak."

  • [Theme 3: Disputing the Virus's Origin.]

  • Another thing we noticed are Chinese outlets disputing the origin of the virus.

  • It all started in late February with a renowned Chinese epidemiologist.

  • (Speaking Chinese) The infection was first spotted in China but the virus might not have originated in China.

  • Around the same time, the C.D.C. reported the first case in the United States with an unknown origin.

  • A screenshot of the announcement incorrectly translated in Chinese began to trend online and was untouched by Chinese government censors.

  • And a high-ranking government spokesperson actively pushed disinformation about where the virus came from.

  • (Speaking Chinese) Right now, the work of tracing the virus origin is still ongoing.

  • (Speaking Chinese) There is no conclusion yet.

  • A government giving an optimistic spin to bad news is not unique.

  • "We want to go big, go solid. the country is very strong, we've never been so strong."

  • But the scale of the Chinese propaganda machine is, and it's clear that it's being deployed to try and tell the world a new story about the coronavirus pandemic.

(Speaking Chinese) Good evening.

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How China Is Reshaping the Coronavirus Narrative | NYT News

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    Mackenzie posted on 2020/05/30
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