Jabbed in the Back: Mapping Russian and Chinese Information Operations During COVID-19   [open pdf - 0B]

From the Introduction: "The public health and economic catastrophe of the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic has also become a battle about the nature of truth itself. From the emergence of the first reports of a virus in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, opportunistic leaders in China, Russia, and elsewhere have used the virus as an excuse to further erode democracy and wage information warfare. They have inundated an already polluted information environment with disinformation and propaganda about the virus's origins and cures, and, most recently, vaccines. Russia largely followed its preexisting playbook of using crises to inflame tensions in foreign societies. China borrowed some tools from Russia but used them for different ends, sanitizing its own record and spreading conspiracy theories on a global scale. Little evidence suggests explicit cooperation despite some instances of narrative overlap and circular amplification between the two actors. Significant differences remain in Beijing's and Moscow's strategies and tactics in the information environment. [...] Building off of Information Bedlam, CEPA's [Center for European Policy Analysis] overview of academic and think tank literature written on Russian and Chinese information operations (IOs) during COVID-19, CEPA's researchers collected and analyzed original data to complement research conducted by other think tanks and academic institutions. CEPA collected English-language website articles and social media messaging from Russian and Chinese government officials and state-backed media from March 2020 through March 2021. By determining rhetoric choices and the prioritization of narratives throughout the 144,000-piece database, we were able to isolate and analyze the unique tactics that Russia and China used to advance their information operations across the transatlantic space throughout the COVID-19 pandemic."

2021 Center for European Policy Analysis
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