The New York Times and ProPublica released their analysis of how the Chinese Communist Party tried to quash the Peng Shuai case on Dec 8.

The two news agencies found the regime’s multifaceted propaganda machine was full of loopholes and failed to serve its power of subduing the case.

Tennis player Shuai accused the CCP’s former top-ranking member, Zhang Gaoli, of sexually assaulting her on November 2nd on Weibo. The regime acted just 20 minutes later.

Domestically, CCP officials quickly deleted all related news. Shuai’s Weibo account was suspended.

According to Aboluo Wang, a scholar on Internet freedom at California University, Xiao Qiang, said that CCP has blocked hundreds of keywords in the Peng Shuai incident. This was the same approach used for highly sensitive topics such as the Tiananmen crackdown in June 1989.

Xiao Qiang mentioned that CCP deleted other accounts of celebrities, sports stars, and intellectuals, who violated CCP officials directives. 

But Peng Shuai’s situation was different. Her case attracted international attention and she did not directly oppose the government, which makes it more difficult for the CCP to completely erase Peng Shuai’s traces on the internet.

Then internationally, 97 fake accounts swarmed Twitter and defended the CCP’s narratives about the missing tennis star. That whitewash effort was also joined by Hu Xijin of the CCP’s mouthpiece, Global Times.

The fake accounts follow no one nor have any followers, but are linked to more than 1700 accounts used to spread various CCP news. 

The majority of these counterfeit accounts’ tweets were posted between 8 am and 7 pm on working days in Taipei time, with a brief respite around lunchtime. 

This dubious activity was detected by Twitter, which erased hundreds of posts that shared Hu’s tweets about Shuai.

The joint report said Twitter has promised to delete all 97 accounts that, quoted “violated spam policy and the platform manipulation,” end quote.

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