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War of Words: Understanding and Defending Against Chinese Disinformation Campaigns

  • Published
  • By Captain Gregory Repka

China is slowly gripping the world in a self shaped rhetoric, one that favors China and diminishes the rest. The methodical expansions of these influence capabilities raises alarms, they gain more control everyday, and current defenses are not adequate to combat this control. China's influence control is broadly explained in three parts; internal information control, external information control, and internal behavior control. These efforts start with internal information control, the Great Firewall of China. This mechanism controls what one can see and hear inside China by controlling internet content. China does not allow foreign companies or websites to operate inside its borders unless they abide by strict censorship and data ownership rules. Next, external information control. China can not control the internet outside its walls as it does on the inside, so they adapted their tactics and created "internet commentators" (50 Cent Army). They created jobs that pay 50 cents for every online post that creates divides or boosts China's rhetoric. These posts are targeted for specific tasks, specific regions, and are relentless assaults of disinformation that aim to promote disdain, distrust, and discourse in a society. Finally, internal behavior control. China controls what people hear and see inside and outside of their country; however, people still post negative comments about the government, and behave in a ways that threaten the government. China quickly implemented a monitoring system, the Social Credit System (SCS), watching and reporting every action of its citizens. This system is still in the early stages but is growing rapidly. If this system becomes country wide, the control China will have on its people, on their actions, on their information, becomes that more concrete. Immediate actions must be taken to combat and defend against these efforts, or China's control on information and behavior will slowly spread worldwide without recourse.