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China’s Twitter Disinformation Ops Have Been Going on for Years

  • Report reveals widespread campaign against political targets
  • China-backed effort tried to undermine legitimacy of protests
Protesters in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on Aug. 31. 

Protesters in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on Aug. 31. 

Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

A state-backed disinformation campaign used by China to sow political discord and discredit pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong is more widespread than previously thought, according to a new report released Monday.

Last month, Twitter said it deleted nearly 200,000 accounts that originated in China and sought to undermine the Hong Kong protest movement. According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, some of those date back years and have been used in a series of state-sponsored disinformation operations targeting Beijing’s political opponents, including an exiled billionaire, a human rights lawyer and a bookseller targeted by officials for distributing tales of China’s political elite.