In an interview with CNN on April 13, the administrator of the Twitter account named The Great Translation Movement said that its purpose was to expose Beijing’s pro-Russian and nationalistic content on its heavily censored online social platforms.
The Twitter account’s administrator, who demanded anonymity for security concerns, said, “We want to counter the effort of the Chinese state-affiliated media by showing the West some content they do not want to show.”
By gathering internet posts from popular Chinese media outlets and reposting those translated contents on Twitter, the account has obtained over 118,000 followers since its first launch in early March. Footages of the state’s domestic propaganda on the Ukraine war, the Shanghai lockdown, and even its recent controversial forced parent-child separation policy have come under the scope of their reports.
These Twitter users further added that their actions come as a reaction to China’s alleged hypocrisy, which claimed its neutral stance on Ukraine but circulated pro-Russian articles on its state and social media.
The administration said, “We want the outside world to at least know what is going on inside because we don’t think there could be any change made from inside.”
The person also told CNN that the group hoped Beijing would loosen its restrictions on these platforms so that people could raise their voices, saying, “In today’s Chinese mainstream discourse there is a very limited space for people who have a rational mind to speak.”
“Even if you speak out and if it doesn’t get deleted, you are still going to be spammed…and people are going to say you are a spy… the dignity of people themselves is destroyed.”
Florian Schneider, director of the Leiden Asia Center in The Netherlands, told CNN, “The authorities certainly have an interest in promoting their preferred narrative online, and they have the technical and political means to unapologetically ‘guide public opinion.'”
David Bandurski, director of the China Media Project, a research program in partnership with the Journalism & Media Studies Center at the University of Hong Kong, said, “Even before the social media era, the way China talks internally through its state media is something it doesn’t appreciate being parsed and translated for the world.”