The official media in China had always adopted double standards towards “fake news” spread on social media. Folks who criticise the system or talk about events and happenings unflattering to the CCP are swiftly taken to task. Those who spread fake news singing praises for the CCP are allowed to continue misleading the public.
But good news can lead to unintended consequences. That is happening in China right now. It all started with cheerleaders spreading news about the dire, out-of-control Covid-19 situation in “other countries”, creating the impression that China is now the only safe place on earth. You would have thought that the authorities would leave them alone or even encourage them. Interestingly, a social media marketeer from Fujian by the name of Guo Hongming, her husband and their executive Xue Yumin are now under police investigation for spreading . They are suspected of spreading “fake good news”.
Why do the authorities suddenly decide to crack down on “fake good news” that generate “positive energy” or 正能量？The answer lies in the overwhelming flood of gullible overseas Chinese nationals returning home to what they believe is the safest place on earth. This flood has become unmanageable.
The propaganda has backfired. Fake news, fake videos generated by these media and marketing companies have been shared and allowed to virtually go viral into overseas Chinese communities, causing panic and a massive exodus comparable to 春运 . Even former Chinese nationals who have acquired overseas citizenship decided to take a holiday in China to escape from the outbreak in the land they had migrated to. In the wake of this overwhelming response, the latest actions from the authorities seem to indicate that the news spread by their propaganda partners is only intended to make people feel good and proud to be Chinese. It’s not meant to encourage them to return home!
The situation at many congested Chinese airports is quite chaotic now. But did these patriots return home to a safe haven?
Many realised too late that the situation in China is nothing like what the social media marketeers had claimed. The gorgeous baskets of free food, fruits and drinks are reserved for people with connections. Regular returnees had to be quarantined under squalid conditions and charged unreasonably high quarantine fees. One returnee was so disappointed that she committed suicide.
But as they try to put this fire out, the original narrative that China is the safest place on earth must not be changed. They continue to gift medical supplies and expertise to badly affected countries like Italy and the US. How will the situation play out in China? We can only wait and see.