China Caught in the Act: US Officials Say CCP Was Sending Panic-Inducing Texts to Americans


Democrats and liberals at the beginning of the COVID crisis: Blaming the Chinese government for this crisis is engendering bigotry in the United States. It needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. If it doesn’t, conservatives who hold Beijing responsible will be responsible for whatever hate crimes occur.

Democrats and liberals knowing what they know about the Chinese government at this point in the COVID crisis: Heh, um, nvm.

And the hits just keep on coming.

It’s not just the constant drumbeat of obviously fictitious propaganda from Beijing. It’s not just the fact the World Health Organization is regurgitating Chinese propaganda.

It’s not just the fact that China lied about human-to-human transmission. It’s also not just the fact Beijing lied about the number of coronavirus cases and deaths. It’s not just the country’s hoarding of PPE, particularly since the world has trusted it to manufacture a significant portion of the gloves, masks and gowns worn by medical professionals and first responders.

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And it’s not just that studies say China could have prevented 95 percent of coronavirus cases if the country had acted earlier.

Now, it’s the fact China has apparently been sending disinformation via text messages to Americans in order to induce panic.

According to The New York Times, American intelligence has determined the Chinese Communist Party was behind some “alarming messages [that] came fast and furious in mid-March” and amplifying a fake text message about actions being taken by the president that would have essentially constituted martial law.

“They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters,” one message read, according to The Times.

“He said he got the call last night and was told to pack and be prepared for the call today with his dispatch orders.”

That led to this announcement from the National Security Council:

If it started as just a random prank, it quickly became something China seized upon.

“Since that wave of panic, United States intelligence agencies have assessed that Chinese operatives helped push the messages across platforms, according to six American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to publicly discuss intelligence matters,” The Times reported.

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“The amplification techniques are alarming to officials because the disinformation showed up as texts on many Americans’ cellphones, a tactic that several of the officials said they had not seen before.”

It’s already been established that both China and Russia have been pushing disinformation tactics about the pandemic onto American audiences. The Times reported on the phenomenon in March. That report said that while “Russia’s diplomats and state-run news media have arguably been more restrained,” that “China has been more overtly aggressive.”

China spread what The Times termed “discredited, and sometimes contradictory, theories” — one infamous Chinese lie, for instance, is that the coronavirus actually originated in the United States.

As The Times’ March report put it: “China has adopted Russia’s playbook for more covert operations, mimicking Kremlin disinformation campaigns and even using and amplifying some of the same conspiracy sites.”

Chinese intelligence operatives have gone even further than that now, though, at least according to reports.

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“The origin of the messages remains murky,” The Times reported. “American officials declined to reveal details of the intelligence linking Chinese agents to the dissemination of the disinformation, citing the need to protect their sources and methods for monitoring Beijing’s activities.”

The intelligence sources insisted that Chinese intelligence wasn’t behind the lockdown texts originally. However, the Chinese agents seemed to have learned how effectively they could be use to disturb the American public.

“The officials say the Chinese agents also appear to be using texts and encrypted messaging apps as part of their campaigns. It is much harder for researchers and law enforcement officers to track disinformation spread through text messages and encrypted apps than on social media platforms,” The Times reported.

It’s like the old horror movie trope: The caller (or texter) is coming from inside the house.

No longer is China spreading its disinformation through Xinhua or random Twitter accounts (or CNN, for that matter). It’s now in our text messages.

This isn’t just Russian disinformation tactics anymore. This is something much more sinister. But as bad as it is, there’s one positive note:

We’ve finally come to the long-delayed conclusion that blaming China isn’t xenophobic or problematic. Instead, it’s common sense — and it’s something that China should be forced to pay for when this is all over.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture