A network of fake social-media accounts linked to the Chinese government has attempted to draw Americans out to real-world protests against anti-Asian-American racism and popular but unsubstantiated allegations that China engineered the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic, according to U.S. security firms.
The attempts to physically mobilize Americans have so far failed, researchers said. But they represent a troubling effort reminiscent of Russia’s attempts to sow discord during the 2016 presidential election, they said. The activity represents the first known example of suspected China-linked actors targeting Americans with the apparent goal of encouraging them to attend real-world demonstrations.
“They’re copying the Kremlin’s playbook,” said John Hultquist, vice president of analysis at Mandiant, a U.S.-based cyber intelligence firm.