China is spending $300,000 to get US influencers to share positive social media posts to boost the country's image ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics

Posted 114 days ago


* Chinese officials have hired a US-based media firm to help promote China and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

* Vippi Media signed a $300,000 deal to employ influencers to create content across TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch.

* The contract comes amid complicated bilateral relations between the US and China over human rights issues.

The Chinese government is turning to social media influencers to help improve its tarnished image ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games next month in Beijing.

Vippi Media, a New Jersey-based firm, signed a $300,000 contract with the Chinese consulate general in New York to organize a social media campaign that promotes positive messaging about China and the Beijing Games on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch.

The agreement, registered with the US Department of Justice, began in November and runs through March 2022, when the Winter Paralympics ends.

The contract comes as President Joe Biden and officials in Great Britain, Canada, and Australia declared a "diplomatic boycott" of the games in December to denounce China's record of human rights abuses, including the treatment of its Uyghur population of Turkic Muslims and the handling of tennis star Peng Shuai's accusations of sexual assault against a high-ranking Chinese official.

China continues to deny allegations of human rights abuses in its territories and people have expressed concern about the safety of US athletes competing in the games. Human rights organizations warned athletes they could face punishment for speaking out against the government while in China.

"There's really not much protection that we believe is going to be afforded to athletes," Rob Koehler, the director general of the Global Athlete group, said in a seminar on Tuesday. "We're advising athletes not to speak up. We want them to compete and use their voice when they get home."

China has spent more than a decade on media messaging efforts overseas, spending nearly $60 million in the US in 2020 and $23 million in 2021, according to Open Secrets, a DC-based organization that tracks money in American politics.

The Vippi Media agreement lays out a detailed social media strategy in which influencers will be tasked with producing three to five pieces o... (Read more)