Source Global Times

BEIJING, China--While the world is under threat of being ripped further apart amid the ongoing Ukraine crisis, some political forces, as opposed to fixing the division, are taking advantage of the turbulence to smear China by peddling false information.

SupChina, one of many veteran China-bashing organizations, based in New York, has been actively creating, spreading, and hyping anti-China content during the ongoing crisis, trying to use the Ukrainian issue unrelated to China in all respects, to create an anti-China global public opinion.

Public opinion war has become a key frontier in the war of politics today. The US has not given up taking advantage of the Ukraine crisis to misinform and make fools of its people to form a distorted image of China, Li Haidong, a professor from the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, said.

In the long term, such anti-China forces, which are using online media tools and social platforms to serve the governments of the US and its Western allies, have been working to form a system to create a "broader and more powerful" atmosphere of public consensus to confront China, which is highly alarming, Li told the Global Times on Thursday.

Who is SupChina

From the recent articles published on SupChina's website, it can be noticed that the organization has several "strategic goals" on Ukraine-Russia conflicts, including propagandizing the connection between the Ukraine crisis and the island of Taiwan; distorting online comments by Chinese netizens; and hyping the "soft power offensive" of China in Ukraine.

Previously, when the situation had just begun to worsen in Ukraine, a handful of netizens - male respondents to be exact - said on China's social media platforms that they "wanted to take home Ukrainian beauties who have lost their homes amid the ongoing Ukrainian crisis," and such comments were strongly condemned by most other Chinese netizens, and China's internet watchdog soon took action to punish the accounts that had been posting and spreading such inappropriate comments.

However, an article published by SupChina alleged that "misogynistic comments about potential Ukrainian refugees began trending - and extended beyond the virtual borders of the Chinese internet."

Those responsible for spreading the "Chinese netizens posting improper speeches on Ukrainian beauties" narrative on Twitter are also mainly accounts supporting "Hong Kong independence" or similar anti-China content.

The article ignored the fact that the mainstream Chinese people hold a generally friendly and empathetic attitude toward Ukraine and hope peace will soon be restored in the country, and that the Chinese government has repeatedly called for peace and talks between the stakeholders.

On February 25, SupChina also interacted with William Klein, a senior official from the American Embassy in China, to help promote the US' political stance on Ukrainian issues.

It is easily verifiable that those who appear on the SupChina website are also anti-China veterans.

On her LinkedIn page, Anla Cheng, founder of SupChina, wrote that the platform's aim is to "inform and educate an English speaking audience."

Collusion of the rabble

The Global Times found that most of SupChina's listed partners are notoriously anti-China NGOs that constantly concoct rumors about China.

The China Africa Project (CAP), for example, a US-based news and analysis outlet that claims to explore all aspects of China's engagement with Africa, has gone on a misinformation campaign on its official website about China allegedly creating "debt traps" in Africa. The CAP has also often hosted podcasts inviting anti-China activists to bash China, trying to undermine Chinese-African relations by employing skewed perspectives.

Russia Today revealed that although the CAP was initially self-funded, it has been receiving funding from the Ford Foundation since 2018, which is inextricably linked to the US government, and even considered a front for the American spying agency CIA.

NüVoices, another SupChina partner and one that interacts closely with Muyi Xiao, a journalist at The New York Times, has produced a number of articles that target China's family planning policy and used sexual harassment cases involving Chinese celebrities to initiate attacks against the Chinese system and stir up gender-based antagonism.

When searching SupChina-related news on the internet, it can be seen that their articles are often reposted or quoted by Radio Free Asia, the Human Rights Watch, and other typical Western anti-China organizations or cult websites.

In addition, in July 2020, Washington-based think tank the Hudson Institute, a prominent anti-China institute, also worked directly with SupChina on weaponizing COVID-19 to lambast China.

In a public discussion titled "The Pandemic Will Make US-China Relations Much Worse," Jeremy Goldkorn, editor-in-chief of SupChina, and Robert Spalding, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and retired US Air Force brigadier general, talked up the so-called human rights abuses in China. The slanderous accusations even absurdly called for the US to decouple from China.

Misleading Chinese readers

While busy attacking China with misinformation on foreign online community platforms, SupChina also attempted to mislead readers in China by posting biased, baseless stories on Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, observers found.

By searching the keyword "SupChina" on WeChat, users can find two accounts, one of which was last updated in January 2021. WeChat showed that this account was registered in April 2018, and actively kept posting articles about China on an almost weekly basis in 2018 and 2019.

Readers who look into some of the articles that SupChina shared on WeChat may be enraged by the inflammatory content that tries hard to defame China and the Chinese people.

A "news article" posted on April 25, 2019, for instance, made fun of and smeared Chinese athletes and sports lovers with targeted inflammatory language. Starting with the subjective sentence, "If it feels like you've heard about Chinese marathon runners being less than honest, you'd be right," the author publicized one or two isolated incidents of athletes who were punished for cheating to conjure up an image of a sports body riddled with dishonesty.

An article on April 10, 2019, highlighted street cleaners in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province, who debated being asked to wear smart watches, which would track the cleaners' real-time positions. Although the smart watches did arouse controversy among the Chinese public for "distrusting employees," the SupChina article distorted it into a "Big Brother-type surveillance system," trying to imply this was "evidence" of China "violating human rights." Meanwhile, the smart watch manufacturer had stipulated to Chinese media that the product didn't invade privacy, and cleaners could take off the watches after work. The SupChina author seemed to have turned a blind eye to that very fact.

Ironically, while claiming itself an "independent media" outlet, SupChina seldom bothered to disguise its intention of defaming and even spreading its divisive rhetoric in China. In a WeChat article in December 2018, it purposely posted an incorrect map of China that excluded the island of Taiwan. The incomplete map once again revealed the separatist and anti-China face of SupChina, observers noted.

The US and its Western allies have been spreading false information and manipulating public opinion in their countries, in Europe, and in Ukraine in order to meet the need for a swayed public opinion to prepare for a confrontation with China, Li told the Global Times on Thursday. "They want to build a consensus of being unfriendly toward China."

"However, many ordinary people may lack the ability to tell the truth and rumors apart, which will lead to disastrous effects on diplomacy and politics," Li said. "Therefore, clarifying the facts and uncovering the dark figures behind the lies is necessary."