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  • - [Narrator] On China's version of Twitter called Weibo,

  • news of George Floyd's killing,

  • and the protests were trending with these hashtags.

  • (piano playing)

  • Well, on the Chinese version of TikTok called Douyin,

  • videos like this were being widely shared.

  • They were created by two inescapable accounts

  • on both platforms.

  • The Chinese state media publication,

  • Peoples' Daily and television network, CCTV.

  • - [Maria Repnikova] The actual violence that has sparked up

  • both the protest movement, but also the aftermath.

  • The looting, the rioting,

  • has been a really catching the attention

  • of Chinese state media in part to show that,

  • the protests in the United States

  • are not particularly peaceful.

  • - [Narrator] At a time when global backlash builds against

  • China over Coronavirus, and Beijing's relationship

  • with the US grows increasingly strained.

  • - China's coverup of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease

  • to spread all over the world.

  • - [Narrator] Events like the protests and the pandemic

  • have given the Chinese propaganda machine a lot

  • to work with.

  • Here's a look at the narrative

  • that's being crafted and why rallying citizens at home

  • is critical to Beijing's power.

  • - [Man] No justice.

  • - [Crowd] No peace.

  • - [Narrator] Though the demonstrations in the US

  • have been largely peaceful, inside China,

  • the protests have mainly been portrayed like this.

  • (solemn music)

  • - [Maria Repnikova] Some of it is propaganda,

  • but some of it is also just reporting the actual news,

  • shows to the Chinese public that the US is far from perfect.

  • - [Narrator] Maria Repnikova is a Political Scientist

  • who studies Chinese propaganda.

  • - [Maria Repnikova] It's just a really kind of a huge amount

  • of information that's coming from the US media scape

  • on the protest movement into the

  • Chinese domestic media sphere.

  • So it's been really impressive to watch.

  • - [Narrator] Repnikova says state media often choose

  • the most violent scenes and use dramatic music.

  • (dramatic music).

  • President Trump has also been a gold mine.

  • - And I will deploy the United States military.

  • I hope that you also use our national guard.

  • Call me, we'll be ready for them so fast.

  • - [Maria Repnikova] The US president has condemned them,

  • and kind of shown disdain for those protesters.

  • He's even threatened to use the military force

  • in response to those movements.

  • - [Lady] (foreign language).

  • - [Maria Repnikova] That story really tarnishes

  • the image of the United States as a peaceful

  • or a legitimate democracy.

  • - China ruthlessly imposes Communism.

  • - [Maria Repnikova] And especially the US

  • as a critic of human rights violations in China.

  • - [Narrator] Repnikova says the US protests

  • have also come at an opportune time for Beijing.

  • - [Maria Repnikova] It helps to kind of take the attention

  • span away from what went wrong in China

  • to what's happening around the world,

  • especially in America.

  • - [Narrator] In the early stages of the pandemic,

  • as hospitals became overwhelmed and there was

  • little information about the new virus,

  • Beijing turn to a trusted strategy.

  • Suppress any critical news coverage.

  • - [Fu King-Wa] He called (mumbles) officers knew

  • in advance about all the risks,

  • and the impacted nature of the virus.

  • So the question about why early warning like

  • (mumbling) a center.

  • - [Narrator] Fu King-Wa has been tracking censored posts

  • on Weibo since 2011.

  • He says Chinese censors covered up negative reports

  • from citizen journalists to whistleblower doctors.

  • Meanwhile, state media content about China's prompt

  • response, like two hospitals that were built

  • in under two weeks, or Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Wuhan

  • circulated widely on Weibo or Douyin.

  • Fu's research found that around two out

  • of 1000 posts related to the outbreak

  • on Weibo were censored.

  • - [Fu King-Wa] The state media controls large amounts of

  • (mumbles).

  • So it basically occupies the majority of numbers.

  • - [Narrator] Censorship spiked during key events like

  • the death of a whistleblower doctor,

  • or when the Chinese CDC published a paper confirming human

  • to human transmission, which sparked an online debate

  • about whether the government knew earlier.

  • Another common tactic state media have used

  • is gathering foreign voices to give Beijing credibility.

  • - [Man] I welcome it all.

  • They did everything right.

  • - [Maria Repnikova] Interviews with various individuals

  • who have really good reputation with Western media,

  • Presidents of different countries,

  • and the heads of international organizations.

  • All of them kind of suggesting

  • that the US hasn't done that well,

  • but China has been more responsible.

  • - [Lady] (foreign language).

  • - [Narrator] While gauging real sentiment in China's

  • state controlled online environment is difficult,

  • some of the comments under these posts show

  • Beijing's narrative appears to be convincing.

  • And it's appearances that matters says Repnikova because

  • this type of nationalism is the point of propaganda.

  • And one way for China to secure its legitimacy at home,

  • as tensions outside the mainland increase.

  • - [Man] (foreign language)

  • - [Crowd] (claps) (cheers).

- [Narrator] On China's version of Twitter called Weibo,

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How China Turned the Pandemic and Protests Into Propaganda Opportunities | WSJ

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    Seraya posted on 2020/07/03
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