Gordon Chang, an American of Chinese ancestry who spent decades in China and has extensively written about the threat of China, warned that China meddled in the 2020 presidential election and engaged in “an act of war” against the United States by enflaming the antifa/Black Lives Matter riots in American cities over the summer.
“China certainly wanted to influence the outcome of the election,” Chang said in an interview with American Thought Leaders, a show run by The Epoch Times. “So for instance, during the Democratic Party nomination process, they supported Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders, and during the general election, I think that they were trying to unseat President Trump.”
Chang noted that “there was a massive disinformation campaign conducted especially by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which is official, and the Global Times, which is the communist Party tabloid. Also, there were the troll and bot farm operations, which were actually quite massive.” He also mentioned the “Spamouflage Dragon” network of Chinese bots that launched ads attacking Trump. Twitter took down 174,000 fake Chinese accounts in June.
“So they really went after the Republican candidate,” Chang noted.
Yet he also mentioned something far more sinister, something he described as “an act of war.” According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), based an intelligence unit in the then-open Houston consulate, helping Chinese soldiers to infiltrate American society.
According to a ChinaScope report from August, that PLA unit “sent staff members from a large network company, with fake IDs, to China’s Consulate in Houston. Those technicians used a large video platform’s backend data to identify people who might participate in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) and ANTIFA’s protests and then created and sent them customized videos on how to organize riots and how to do promotions.”
As PJ Media’s Bryan Preston put it at the time, “It sounds an awful lot like the Chinese Communist Party used PLA officers armed with fake Huawei IDs to access TikTok data to target likely protesters in cities around the United States.”
ChinaScope also claimed the PLA officers sent the videos directly to likely protesters and rioters, ostensibly to keep them private from the media or the public at large.
“This was then a nearly undetectable microtargeting engagement from a communist government to like-minded Marxist groups and individuals across the United States,” Preston noted. “The rioters’ goal is not any particular policy outcome, but to subvert and weaken America. Destroying our cities, defunding law enforcement, agitating against ICE, and dividing America along racial lines all support the goal of weakening the United States, which happens to be China’s long-term foreign policy goal.”
Chang agreed with Preston’s assessment, but took it to the next level.
“Also, there’s something else which I think had an effect, although it may not have been directly election-related,” the China expert said. “Radio Free Asia reports that the Chinese military, the Chinese Liberation Army, actually based an intelligence unit in the then-open Houston consulate.”
“From there, they used artificial intelligence and big data to identify Americans likely to participate in antifa and Black Lives Matter protests. And then they sent them videos through TikTok on how to riot,” Chang recounted. “So this went beyond subversion. This was actually an act of war. And because it caused turmoil, it had an effect on the election. As I said, it wasn’t directly related to Beijing’s favorite candidate. But nonetheless, I think that it did ultimately have an effect.”
If China really did incite the summer’s antifa riots — which became the most destructive riots in American history when it comes to property damage — it makes sense to call that an act of subversion and perhaps an act of war. When the United States demanded China close the Houston consulate, Chinese officials started torching piles of documents.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.