China’s Public Diplomacy Operations

Start date: Thursday, 3 June, 15:00
End date: Thursday, 3 June, 16:00
Venue: Online

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As part of the strategy to ‘tell China’s story well’, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has significantly expanded its public diplomacy efforts. The PRC makes use of both state-controlled media outlets and over 270 diplomatic accounts on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to amplify the PRC’s perspective on global affairs and current events. In this event, researchers based at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, present a global audit of social media activity by PRC diplomats and ten of the largest state-controlled media outlets between June 2020 and February 2021, they find that diplomats and state media are very active, gain high numbers of engagement, and profit from inauthentic amplification. Furthermore, they disclose a coordinated inauthentic network amplifying UK-based PRC diplomats, consisting of 62 accounts dedicated to promoting the content by PRC diplomats stationed in London. Between June 2020 and January 2021, the network amplified tweets by diplomats more than 25,000 times, accounting for nearly half of all retweets of the PRC ambassador to the UK.

Marcel Schliebs is a Researcher at the University of Oxford and social data scientist at the Programme on Democracy and Technology. His research is located at the intersection of political science, statistics and computer science, and focuses on the effects of disinformation and microtargeting on political attitudes and behaviour. He has developed quantitative approaches for examining state-backed information operations, and studies the role of artificial intelligence for twenty-first century great power competition. Marcel holds a BA in Political Science from Zeppelin University and a MSc in Social Data Science from the University of Oxford. In the past, he has worked as a Junior US Correspondent for a German Public TV/Radio Broadcaster, at the French National Election Study, and served in the German Foreign Office and NATO’s Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction Non-Proliferation Centre.

Hannah Bailey is a Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute’s Programme on Democracy and Technology, with a focus on social data science. Her research examines the PRC’s use of state-sponsored digital disinformation. In particular, she focusses on the effect of the PRC’s digital disinformation campaigns on international audiences by assessing how they interact with this disinformation. She holds a BSc in Politics and Philosophy from the London School of Economics, as well as two MScs, in Contemporary Chinese Studies, and in the Social Science of the Internet, both from the University of Oxford. She has also studied Mandarin at Fudan University (Shanghai). She has previously testified in front of the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation.