This is a story that has already been discussed in the New York Times. They were letting readers know about the Chinese usage of western social media sites in order to properly promote their propaganda. The messages that they are sharing are all focused on underplaying the mistreatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang. Now, the BBC is publishing their own story about the usage of white people to promote misinformation from the Chinese.
Per the BBC piece:
“The vloggers include British expatriates Barrie Jones, Jason Lightfoot and father-and-son team Lee and Oli Barrett, who use their platforms to comment on the West’s alleged “lies” and China’s government policies.
They have subsequently gone on to appear in videos for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN.
Earlier videos on their personal channels focus on navigating daily life within China. More recent videos, however, have become overtly political; they staunchly defend China’s rhetoric on topics ranging from Covid-19, to Hong Kong and Xinjiang.”
In many instances, no one can seem to tell what the connection is between the Chinese Communist Party and the video bloggers. While some of them are currently denying that they are being paid for their content, there is already evidence that one of them is on the take. Jason Lightfoot is currently listed as a “stringer” for one of their state media outlets, CGTN.
Jason has appeared in various videos from the outlets and has even been seen on camera, thanking the outlet for providing him with the opportunity. When the BBC asked him questions about his level of involvement, he said that he had not been paid to go on a trip. This might be true but perhaps the trip was on the house?
YouTube does not label these videos in the proper manner and does not let their users know that they are connected to the Chinese Community Party. The Chinese Communist Party promotes them anyways. The BBC piece has more about this controversy:
“A video featuring Barrie Jones was not only uploaded to CGTN’s YouTube account, it was used by China’s foreign ministry in a daily government press briefing.
In the video – titled “How do some Western media twist facts about Xinjiang?” – Mr Jones claims to have “worked for a newspaper in England… Britain’s largest daily circulation newspaper for six years”. Some state media publications have referred to Mr Jones as a former British journalist, yet the BBC found no evidence to support this, and his channel is peppered with grammatical and punctuation errors.
When asked about his journalism experience, Mr Jones told the BBC “where and when” he worked as a journalist “is not your concern”.
Matthew Tye, who has been residing in China for several years now and has become one of the leading critics of China on YouTube, has called out the bloggers who go overboard in their mission to flatter the Chinese. He’s even come up with quite the name for them. They are now known as “white monkeys”. He does note that they do not need to be white.
The term is used for any foreigners who are willing to shield the Chinese from any sort of meaningful critique. As long as the Chinese are being flattered in a manner that is fit for foreign consumption, that is all that they are worried about. Tye divides these people into three different groups. There are the lower-level video bloggers and the celebrities (like John Cena or LeBron James) are at the top of the pyramid.
Even Tom Hiddleston has been indoctrinated, as he is doing commercials that hawk multivitamins to Chinese women. The BBC is trying their best to warn everyone about these dangerous practices but near as we can tell, their words are currently falling on deaf ears. The propaganda machine will only continue to crank out the nonsense as long as there are “white monkeys” willing to deliver the messages on behalf of their Chinese masters.