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China runs election interference ops ahead of midterms

The Chinese accounts, Recorded Future asserts, have made posts of divisive political content across popular social media platforms.

Published: October 14, 2022 3:04pm

Updated: October 14, 2022 3:30pm

China is conducting a large scale election interference operation ahead of the November midterm elections, researchers warn.

Intelligence firm Recorded Future, in a recent report, asserted that the Chinese Communist Party aims to further polarize the United States by spreading disinformation and partisan rhetoric in the digital sphere before Americans head to the polls.

The efforts appear to target both English-speaking and Chinese-speaking Americans.

"China’s state-sponsored influencers, such as 'wolf warrior' diplomats, state media journalists, political pundits, and inauthentic accounts, are actively conducting malign influence operations targeting English and Chinese-speaking US audiences with divisive political content on social media," the report reads. "The content is derived from authentic news and interviews, but amplifies divisive political themes that are sensitive to US voters."

The Chinese accounts, Recorded Future asserts, have made posts of divisive political content across popular social media platforms and created a bevy of polarizing responses to each using other fake accounts.

"Videos, memes, images, news stories, interviews, and multimedia montages are being shared by influencers across platforms using hashtags and English and Chinese language closed captions. Many of the videos are also accompanied by questions that prompt audiences to participate in discussion and post responses," it reads.

"Recorded Future found that the majority of the comments and responses to the videos are populated by likely inauthentic accounts sharing anti-US and anti-West sentiment, criticism of US politicians, and debate over highly divisive political topics," the firm concluded. "Many of these appear to criticize both the Republican and Democrat parties and promote extreme views on both sides."

The report further delved into comparable Russian operations, asserting that "[t]he Russian government likely views electoral interference and voter influence ahead of the US midterm elections as an appropriate response to the US’s defensive military support to Ukraine and to US participation in unprecedented international sanctions that have isolated Russia and heavily damaged its economy."

Lawmakers have long pointed to Moscow as a source of pivotal election interference, most notably in 2016 when claiming that the Trump campaign actively colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the election. Recorded Future specifically highlighted false accounts advocating against U.S. involvement in the Ukraine War and deriding President Joe Biden.

While Russia remains the world's focus amid the conflict in Europe, China has maintained its own aggressive stance toward Taiwan, potentially setting it on course to clash with the island, and by extension, the United States.

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