In the wake of multiple Western countries declaring diplomatic boycotts of the upcoming Beijing Olympics over China’s gross human rights violations, the 2022 winter games are in serious need of some good PR. Lucky for the Chinese Communist Party, they know just who to turn to for help: American social media influencers.
Vippi Media, a New Jersey-based public relations firm, recently took on a $300,000 contract with the Chinese consulate in order to coordinate the propaganda campaign, which will run through March 2022. According to disclosures, influencers will be paid to promote the Beijing Olympics across Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitch. The content is intended to highlight American-Chinese cooperation on issues such as “climate change, biodiversity, new energy, and positive outcomes.”
What’s worse is that $300,000 is chump change compared to how much China has paid to promote propaganda in the U.S. in past years. A recent review of the Foreign Agents Reporting Act Records exposed that China has spent “more than $170 million in spending on propaganda and lobbying in the U.S. since 2016. Chinese foreign agents reported around $60 million in spending on propaganda targeting the U.S. in 2020 alone — and that is only the spending that has been reported under FARA.”
The upcoming Olympic propaganda campaign is only the most recent example of just how much sway China holds over the American media ecosystem. Just last month, mega-corporation Disney bowed to China by agreeing to remove a Simpsons episode from its platform in Hong Kong because it mocked the CCP for its history of human rights abuses. A Chinese propaganda news station, the China Global Television Network (CGTN), has even gone so far as to recruit U.S. reporters to join its ranks.
China’s hyperfocus on American social media platforms is almost more concerning, however, because it directly targets the group most vulnerable to propaganda: children and young adults. More than 60% of all Tik Tok users in the U.S. are under the age of 30 and 32.5% are between the ages of 10-19. Tik Tok itself is a Chinese-owned corporation. The targeting of American youth is not a happy accident – it is purposeful.
Content creators and influencers are the new celebrity class of the twenty-first century and American children idolize them. Little do these kids know that some of their favorite influencers might be paid to spout Chinese propaganda disguised as a fun, Olympics-themed video. With messages like this being promulgated across multiple social media apps on a daily basis, it’s no wonder American youth are embracing once-taboo issues like socialism at such an alarming rate.