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Trump Launched CIA Covert Influence Operation Against China

In 2019, former President Donald Trump attempted to turn the tables on China when he ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to launch a campaign against the country’s government through its local social media.

The intelligence agency created a small team of operatives who would use Chinese social media to spread negative narratives about President Xi Jinping and his government, according to Reuters.

These operations included criticizing the government as well as leaking disparaging intelligence overseas. For example, the team promoted claims that Chinese Communist Party members were hiding ill-gotten money overseas and alleged that certain projects were corrupt and wasteful.

While the former officials interviewed by Reuters did not provide details about the operations, they said the narratives were based on facts despite being released by intelligence operatives acting under false cover. The goal was to inspire paranoia among Chinese leaders and force them to waste resources chasing intrusions into the tightly controlled Chinese internet, officials said.

The operation was initiated a year after Trump issued secret orders for the CIA to organize a series of covert cyber operations against China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. These orders gave the intelligence agency more freedom in the cyberoperations it could pursue, cutting back on the restrictions placed on it by past administrations.

However, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the operation showed that the U.S. government used “public opinion space and media platforms as weapons to spread false information and manipulate international public opinion.”

It is unclear what effect these operations had on China or if President Joe Biden continued the operation after taking over in 2021.

READ 6 COMMENTS
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