Propaganda Agents Visit Chinese Forums

    In China, state-owned special-purpose Internet brigades have been created. Agents visit web forums and chats, posing as ordinary citizens. Their task is to influence public opinion by publishing a reasoned pro-state position on some controversial issues that are being discussed in society.

    About the formation of special units of the Internet police wrote the Italian weekly Southern Weekend. It has been reported that a squad of such “commentators” has been working since April 2006 in Suqian, a coastal city in the east of Jiangsu province.

    The Chinese authorities are making great efforts not to lose control of the Internet, as more and more Chinese citizens gain free access to the resources of the World Wide Web. Therefore, they have the opportunity to get acquainted with alternative sources of information. The number of users in China has already exceeded 100 million people and continues to grow rapidly.

    The work of the “commentators” is to protect the state and government in the event that a negative comment appears in the forum or chat. The Suqian City Propaganda Department recruited civil servants. When selecting candidates, it was taken into account that they should "understand public policy, be theoretically savvy and politically reliable." By publishing texts in a forum or in a chat, these people are supposedly speaking on behalf of “ordinary Internet users”, which is very important for the effectiveness of their work.

    According to the Chinese press, similar propaganda brigades were formed under the city governments of at least three provinces. “We are neither the first nor the last,” said Ma Zhichun, an employee of one of these teams, in an interview with Southern Weekend. “All the people are playing the same game.”

    Similar units are created not only at the level of city authorities, but also at a higher level. Last year, a unit of 127 “mishandled Cossacks” was created at the ministry level.

    It is known that in China there is a huge staff of "Internet police", the number of which is 30 thousand people. These people are attributed to surveillance of blogs and forums, censorship of foreign information sources and even reading of citizens' private email. With their help, state authorities find “politically incorrect” bloggers and put them in jail. In March this year, the forum of one of the largest Chinese universities was closed on the Internet as part of a state campaign to improve the ideological literacy of students.

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