According to government filings, China has paid American social media influencers for the promotion of the Beijing Olympics and to tout U.S.-China cooperation in climate change.
According to disclosures filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act with the Justice Department, the Chinese consulate in New York hired Vippi Media as a public relations agency to manage the influence campaign. According to the contract, Vippi Media will employ prominent Instagram, TikTok and Twitch users in order to promote the games and U.S.-China cooperation on issues such as climate change. Vipp Jaswal (the founder of Vippi Media) tells the Washington Free Beacon that he has yet to choose the influencers for the campaign.
China is engaging in a social media blitz amid increasing threats to boycott the games. This month, Australia, Canada and the United States announced a diplomatic boycott of China due to human rights violations in China and the disappearance of a Chinese tennis player who claimed a Communist Party official had raped him. Human rights groups asked NBC and other television broadcasters to not air the Beijing Olympics which start February 4. American companies–Coca-Cola, Visa, Intel, and others–also face pressure to pull out of sponsorship deals for the games. Jaswal is against the boycott. He claims it would have “no effect” on China’s behavior, and only “aggravate” Beijing.
Vippi’s appointment at the consulate marks a new frontier in China’s propaganda program. This has been a growing concern due to its treatment of Uyghurs and crackdown on pro-democracy groups. It also refuses to allow investigations into coronavirus’ origins. China’s state-controlled media outlets, CGTN and China Daily,, have spent millions creating pro-China content for American viewers to repair their image. To publish pro-China propaganda in American magazines and newspapers, the state-controlled media outlets have paid millions more.
Vippi’s contract with the consulate requires that eight influencers be hired by the company to create at least 24 posts on the Olympics, Beijing’s history and relations between the United States of China. The contract states that twenty percent of content must be focused on cooperation and any positive things in China-U.S relations.
China has also taken other steps to boost support for the games. Xie Feng, China’s vice foreign minister, urged American executives earlier this month to “make a positive impact” on the games. Xie stated that a boycott would “harm the interests of athletes and violate the shared ideals, aspirations, and values of the international society and is therefore unpopular.”