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China Conducting Influence Campaigns to Interfere in US Midterm Elections: Report

China’s communist leadership is attempting to interfere in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections by spreading propaganda and disinformation, according to researchers.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is conducting influence campaigns with the apparent intent of increasing political polarization among Americans and damaging the reputations of people running for Congress who have been critical of the regime, according to a report (pdf) published on Oct. 13 by intelligence firm Recorded Future.

“China’s state-sponsored influencers are almost certainly conducting malign influence operations targeting English and Chinese-speaking U.S. audiences with divisive political multimedia content on social media,” the report said.

“China is likely to conduct malign interference efforts against congressional candidates and members who are outspoken opponents of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and who support policies that will negatively affect China.”

The report comes less than a month after tech giant Meta Platforms announced that it had dismantled a China-based disinformation campaign ahead of the elections.

That campaign intended to increase political polarization among American voters by amplifying extreme viewpoints on both sides of the political spectrum.

Likewise, the Recorded Future report found that China-based influence operations were aimed at promoting extremism and sowing discord among American voters.

“Many of these [efforts] appear to criticize both the Republican and Democrat parties and promote extreme views on both sides,” the report said.

CCP Seeks to Undermine US

Like Russia, the report said, the CCP appears to be seeding social media with narratives designed to undermine the United States by exploiting political wedge issues, including abortion, gun laws, fascism, homelessness, immigration, race, technological decoupling, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and others.

While the bulk of these efforts could indirectly affect the outcome of the midterm elections, the report said, there was one case in which the CCP attempted to interfere directly.

That was the case of Xiong Yan, a U.S. Army veteran and congressional hopeful in New York City, who was targeted by the CCP earlier this year. The Justice Department has charged known CCP affiliates with plotting to extort and even physically attack Yan to remove him from the race and prevent his anti-communist views from entering the political landscape.

Xiong Yan is running for Congress in New York’s 10th congressional district in this photo taken in July 2022. (Cai Rong/The Epoch Times)

The report’s authors noted that they anticipate more direct involvement from the CCP.

“We believe that China’s malign interference activities, including harassment, surveillance, and physical threats, will likely target congressional candidates and members who are outspoken opponents of the CCP and legislators who support policies that will negatively affect China,” the report said.

To that end, the report said that CCP authorities rely on diplomats, journalists, and pundits to spread anti-U.S. narratives online. Those narratives, in turn, are amplified by fake personas and other inauthentic social media accounts to artificially mimic real engagement and encourage people to believe that negative feelings about the United States are more widespread than they really are.

One such example, the report said, was the Pacific Dialogue, a social media channel managed by the CCP Central Committee’s propaganda department.

The Pacific Dialogue has posted more than 600 anti-Western videos and has worked tirelessly over five years to spread them across platforms, including Douyin, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Weibo, and Youtube, according to the report.

The CCP is also likely to lean on people in positions of power in the United States ahead of the elections, the report added, in order to launder its anti-American ideals through domestic actors.

“We believe that the CCP is likely to attempt to manipulate U.S. state, local, and business leaders to support Beijing-friendly policies and advance CCP geopolitical interests through political donations, incentives, and coercion stemming from malign cyber intrusions operations,” the report said.

Andrew Thornebrooke


Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master’s in military history from Norwich University.

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