May 26, 2020

Converging Chinese and Russian Disinformation Compounds Threat to Democracy

By Andrea Kendall-Taylor and David Shullman

In recent weeks the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) propaganda and disinformation blitz around COVID-19 has drawn increasing attention, and with good reason. In addition to promoting a narrative about Beijing’s global leadership around the pandemic, the Chinese government has adopted Russian disinformation tactics in promoting conspiracy theories purporting that COVID-19 originated in Europe, the United States, and beyond to distract from its failed initial response to contain the outbreak from spreading beyond Wuhan.

Several accounts of China’s information operations have noted the incorporation of Russian disinformation tactics. Yet the full significance of this development cannot be understood without appreciating the broader alignment between Russia and China. In other words, China’s adoption of Russian information operation techniques is about more than “authoritarian learning,” or the passive diffusion of such practices from one authoritarian regime to the next. Instead, Russia and China are deepening ties and increasing coordination on a range of economic, defense, technological, and political issues. These repeated interactions facilitate an intentional sharing of best practices and are building a foundation for sustained cooperation moving forward.

Read the full article from the National Endowment for Democracy's Power 3.0 blog.

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