For many years, China have used paid contributors on internet forums to shape commentary in favour of China, and to belittle the west (China’s government hires people to distort web conversations).
These contributors are known in Chinese as wumao, and often create elaborate fraudulent identities. Now they have taken it a step further, by creating fictitious expat websites, and taking over established ones.
Controlling expat media is nothing new to China. They did it to Mark Kitto with his highly successful expat magazines (You’ll never be Chinese” by Mark Kitto), a magazine I used to write for. When the Chinese management forcibly seized it from him, they told me to write less favourably about the west, and more favourably about China. I refused, and moved on.
It was similar when I worked for eChinacities. My final story was edited to delete references to the fact that…
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