A flurry of articles and editorials in China’s state media followed, condemning the vandalism and violence — without explaining what the protesters were protesting about.
Since then, the state media have vigorously defended the police in Hong Kong, belittled the protesters and accused Westerners of orchestrating the turmoil.
Efforts to contextualize the situation or express sympathy for the protesters were swiftly purged from social media.
The propaganda campaign intensified after July 21, when protesters surrounded the Chinese government’s main office in Hong Kong and threw black ink on a government emblem.
The result, both in mainland China and abroad, has been to create an alternate version of what, seen from Hong Kong, is clearly a popular demonstration movement.
The police have arrested people who speak out of turn in chat groups, or who share sensitive content online.China has long curated the content that it allows its citizens to see and read.Its new campaign has echoes of tactics used by other countries, principally Russia, to inundate domestic and international audiences with bursts of information, propaganda and, in some cases, outright disinformation.“Propagandists observe each other across borders, and they learn from each other,” said Peter Pomerantsev, the author of “This is Not Propaganda,” a new book that describes how authoritarian governments have weaponized social media that were once hailed as harbingers for democratic ideals.In recent days, China has more aggressively stirred up nationalist and anti-Western sentiment using state and social media, and it has manipulated the context of images and videos to undermine the protesters.Chinese officials have begun branding the demonstrations as a prelude to terrorism.
And when a Chinese flag was thrown into Victoria Harbor on Aug.