US warns of Chinese disinformation. China says that’s disinformation

Mengchen Zhang, Teele Rebane and Heather Chen, CNN

A US State Department report that accuses the Chinese government of expanding disinformation efforts is “in itself disinformation,” Beijing’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed Saturday.

The ministry shot back after the State Department issued a striking report this week in which it accused the Chinese government of expanding efforts to control information and to disseminate propaganda and disinformation that promotes “digital authoritarianism” in China and around the world.

The US report, issued by the Global Engagement Center on Thursday, alleged that China spends billions of dollars a year on foreign information manipulation and warned that Chinese leader Xi Jinping had “significantly expanded” efforts to “shape the global information environment.”

It also underlined US concerns about China as a main military competitor and key rival in the battle over ideas and global disinformation.

Two days later, China hit back.

“The relevant center of the US State Department which concocted the report is engaged in propaganda and infiltration in the name of ‘global engagement’ – it is a source of disinformation and the command center of ‘perception warfare’,” the ministry said on Saturday.

Referring to wars in Iraq and Syria as well as US reports alleging human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang as examples, the ministry claimed that the US is “an ‘empire of lies’ through and through.”

“No matter how the US tries to pin the label of ‘disinformation’ on other countries, more and more people in the world have already seen through the US’s ugly attempt to perpetuate its supremacy by weaving lies into ‘emperor’s new clothes’ and smearing others,” the ministry said.