Australian researchers have discovered evidence suggesting that China is utilizing fake social media accounts linked to transnational criminal groups to disseminate online propaganda and disinformation.
Furthermore, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report reveals that certain fake accounts employed by China for its influence operations are associated with a network of Twitter accounts promoting Warner International Casino, an online gambling platform operating in Southeast Asia.
Additionally, the casino appears to have connections to a casino owned by the Warner Company in northern Myanmar, near the Chinese border, where Chinese police are reportedly investigating crimes related to the online platform. ASPI believes that China is acquiring inauthentic accounts from criminal networks like Warner International to support its covert influence operations online.
The recent Chinese influence campaign targeting Australia has involved fake accounts using similar AI-generated profile images to those promoting Warner International. ASPI has identified a multi-language network of Chinese fake accounts spreading allegations of bullying, harassment, and rape within Australian politics.
Although most of the social media accounts in this campaign attract minimal engagement, real Australians unknowingly promote them through replies, likes, retweets, and quote tweets, ASPI states.
At the same time, chinese influence operations are also actively targeting the U.S., employing various tactics, including newswire services, staged protests, and billboard ads, to promote pro-Beijing propaganda, according to a recent report from cybersecurity firm Mandiant. The Warner International Casino has been attracting Chinese-language speakers inside and outside China through live broadcasts and shared gaming tables with in-person gamblers.
Finally, chinese police are aware of the casino’s operations and have been investigating and arresting criminal gang members associated with the website. Allegations include the smuggling of Chinese citizens into Myanmar for illegal gambling and employment at the casino. The report highlights the growing concern over China’s use of disinformation tactics and fake accounts to extend its influence globally.