Fake Twitter accounts impersonate Chinese media journalists overseas
Likely by non-Chinese, linked actor(s)
This newsletter is a deviation from the traditional content of Pekingnology. Usual disclaimers apply.
I’m identifying four Twitter accounts that purport to represent Chinese media journalists but actually do not.
Three of them, with apparently real profile photos, purport to be based in Brussels, Belgium.
Another one, without a profile photo, purports to be based in New Delhi, India.
I have been in direct contact with the three Chinese media journalists that A, B, and D purport to represent. All denied they are behind the accounts.
I have not been able to establish direct contact with the Chinese media journalist that C purports to represent. But an intermediary told me it’s highly unlikely that *this* Chinese media journalist would run a Twitter account and post frequently.
The problems I have identified with these four accounts include
Their use of Mandarin is inconsistent with people who grow up speaking Mandarin.
These are A’s first two tweets. People who grow up speaking Mandarin don’t use “想要谈,” even if it’s a translation from “speaking about.”
Sarhad Ke Paar @Par1Ke#China rigged the investigation by #WHO into the #COVID outbreak. Peter Daszak, the WHO “expert” with huge conflicts of interests, was responsible for convincing fellow investigators that it wasn’t necessary to look into data wiped by #China https://t.co/kqILIAMOZ6
“大流行” is the translation of “pandemic,” which you always get using translation software. But for whatever reasons, the Mandarin-speaking world does not use “大流行.” Especially in the Chinese mainland, people use 疫情.
Also, the wording in the Mandarin # hashtags is unusual. The Chinese mainland does not use “冠状病毒” standalone to describe COVID, much less “新冠状病毒.”
These two tweets from B also have a Mandarin problem - “使用推特对我带来新的挑战和一个能够与西方媒体连接的有效平台” and “操作推特的功能” - the use of the language is not consistent with native speakers.
Native speakers don’t use “破坏稳定行动” in this context, or probably anywhere else.
These two tweets from C translates “follow” as “跟随,” which is what a dictionary or translation software will do. But native Mandarin speakers won’t do that. They will translate “follow” to “关注.”
Kenneth Roth @KenRothIn its quest to deny the people of China any possibility of communicating in private, the Chinese government appears to have blocked Signal, one of the last popular encrypted messaging apps that had been available. https://t.co/UCFOelAZ3z https://t.co/XdYwjtemNI
This tweet from D “西方国家毫无根据地批评中国宁愿跟它学习” does not make sense in Mandarin.
All of the language problems are not results of typos.
In summary, all four fake accounts have Mandarin problems, suggesting the person or people behind them are not native speakers.
They use way too many # hashtags. People from the Chinese mainland don’t. Other non-Chinese authentic Twitter accounts don’t as well.
Grady McGregor @GradyMcGregorCDC head George Gao estimates China won't reach herd immunity until at least mid-2022, which may create issues for its plans to host the 2022 winter olympics. But China is moving ahead w/ plans to create digital vaccine passports. https://t.co/SEYuYxFDqH
The Contemporary China Centre Blog @CCCblogUoWimportant new podcast from 闹清楚 [nau̯ tɕʰiŋ ʈʂʰu] on Confronting COVID-19 Racism, bringing together activists from the Asian diaspora in the US, Australia and Europe to connect local struggles and discuss the possibility of transnational organizing. https://t.co/AqvWiZ2CaH
CNA @ChannelNewsAsiaUS condemns China moves to further reduce Hong Kong political participation https://t.co/vWVs5plFBF https://t.co/1173APm8T5
Reuters @ReutersWhite House urges for 'second stage' in WHO study of COVID-19 origins https://t.co/OJ2zhjNSch
Spokesperson发言人办公室 @MFA_ChinaThe vicious accusations the US flings at Xinjiang reflect its past crimes. Just look at this Washington Post article which exposed how the US government persecuted Native Americans with lies, smallpox, etc. It’s time for US politicians to wake up from their “Truman Show”. https://t.co/O1P3o1mtcB
Hua Chunying 华春莹 @SpokespersonCHNUnity is strength. This is what our African friends tell us when reviewing the past year of 2020 as China and Africa work side by side fighting against #COVID19. They talk in local languages and use proverbs to describe China-Africa friendship. https://t.co/uxxLjMfwu8
Hua Chunying 华春莹 @SpokespersonCHNRemember what the #US & some of its allies did to #Iraq, #Syria & #Libya? Waged wars based on "evidence" which later proved to be false. The price is death & displacement of millions of #Muslims. Justice may be late, but will prevail in the end. https://t.co/aKkHpwsa5d
Each of these four Twitter accounts routinely uses a usual number of # hashtags in almost every tweet. If you are on Twitter and follow people from the Chinese mainland, you would be probably aware that they don’t do that. In fact, in my observation, non-Chinese Twitter users don’t do that either.
According to Wikipedia,
a hashtag is a metadata tag that is prefaced by the hash symbol, #. Hashtags are widely used on microblogging and photo-sharing services such as Twitter and Instagram as a form of user-generated tagging that enables cross-referencing of content sharing a subject or theme.
They are linked.
i) They are linked by mutual followings.
D is followed by A and B
C is followed by B
B is followed by C and D
A is followed by D
ii) They “like” each others’ tweets.
A likes B
B likes A
A likes D
iii) B jumped to A’s defense.
Chen Weihua, the EU bureau chief of China Daily, first publicly identified A as a fake account on April 7.
After that, I wrote a thread on April 10, confirming Chen’s finding
and hinting there are other fake accounts beyond A. At the time, I already knew B was fake so I was putting out a bait - trying to explore how B would respond to the tweet, despite I never said publicly B was another fake.
B took the bait and attacked me and Chen, defending A whose cover had been blown.
iv) A and B took a drastic turn in their tweets around the time Chen publicly identified (ONLY) A on April 7.
They largely posted what can be described as pro-Beijing tweets before that.
Hua Chunying 华春莹 @SpokespersonCHNFor most of the #Muslim people, the #UnitedStates is certainly not the safest country to live in.
The Economist @TheEconomistChina wants its citizens to believe that the virus originated elsewhere, even though scientists see scant evidence of that https://t.co/Wf58wsbXqW
After July 7, when Chen’s expose of (ONLY) A
Business Today @BT_IndiaScientists demand probe into COVID-19 origins with or without China's involvement https://t.co/prl2BA4jVQ
Swarajya @SwarajyaMag#VaccineMaitri | The Chinese Communist Party wanted Paraguay to break ties with Taiwan in exchange for Covid-19 vaccines. Taiwan stood up to China. India stepped in to help. https://t.co/9oOHY9n53z
The tweets of D, which so far maintained its cover in public, also took a turn, but on a lesser observable scale.
C, which so far also maintained its cover in public, hasn’t tweeted after April 7 - its last tweet was on April 2.
A retweeted B’s reveal
WANG Xiaojun @WANGXia81005469It seems like someone is using @JingdongHua's identity. Some things look really strange... Be careful! 好像有人在冒充华敬东 @JingdongHua 的身份。有些事情挺奇怪，请大家注意！⬇️ https://t.co/LdloI3gQTC
And A “likes” some tweets in this thread.
D “likes” every tweet in this thread.
To clarify, some of the Chinese media journalists the fake accounts purport to represent remain(s) overseas, but some of them have(has) returned to China. I’m not identifying their current location, for reasons including privacy and not feeding the impersonators.
Prior to Chen’s tweet on April 7, I had determined A, B, and C are fake accounts but decided against exposing them immediately. I wanted to find out what they were up to. In Direct Messages (DM) on Twitter, I had initiated and engaged in brief conversations with A and B to explore what they were up to.
I am now exposing them because:
1) Chen has already publicly exposed A;
2) B, who was not exposed at the time, took my bait, revealed his support of A, and effectively blown his own cover (at least to me);
3) my patience has run out.
I only found out about D two days ago, first through its “likes” of B’s thread.
I have many questions about the fake accounts, and I’m almost sure you do as well. So I’ll leave them to you. (End)