TikTok Part Of CCP’s ‘Cognitive Warfare’ Strategy Against US: Rep. Gallagher

TikTok Part Of CCP’s ‘Cognitive Warfare’ Strategy Against US: Rep. Gallagher

Authored by Andrew Thornebrooke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

TikTok is a key tool in communist China’s strategy to manipulate Americans and undermine the United States’s ability to respond to crises, according to experts and lawmakers.

Chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), speaks during a press conference unveiling the results of the committee’s investigation into the biolab discovered in Reedley, Calif., in Washington on Nov. 15, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state, will likely use TikTok in its effort to wage “cognitive warfare” against the United States, said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.).

The CCP calls it ‘cognitive domain warfare,’ part of their larger political warfare strategy,” Mr. Gallagher said in prepared comments for a Nov. 30 hearing of the House Select Committee on the CCP.

Mr. Gallagher, who chairs the committee, said that the United States was struggling to respond to the threat, as the nation had no grand strategy or apparatus for confronting propaganda from authoritarian powers.

Cognitive warfare is not something we tend to think about here in the West. Sure, we have ideas like soft power, but they’re not a national strategy,” Mr. Gallagher said.

“On the ‘smokeless battlefield’ of people’s minds, we don’t have a standing military at all.”

CCP Seeks ‘Mind Dominance’

The Pentagon’s 2022 China Military Power Report (pdf), which distills the Defense Department’s most authoritative assessments of China’s strategy and capabilities, highlighted the development of the CCP’s new method of psychological warfare.

It said that the CCP and its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), were developing and deploying methods for conducting cognitive warfare to win military advantage.

“As the PLA seeks to expand the reach of its influence operations around the world and to seize information dominance on the battlefield, it is researching and developing the next evolution of psychological warfare called cognitive domain operation[s] (CDO) that leverages subliminal messaging, deep fakes, overt propaganda, and public sentiment analysis,” the report stated.

The goal of CDO is to achieve what the PLA refers to as ‘mind dominance,’ defined as the use of propaganda as a weapon to influence public opinion to effect change in a nation’s social system, likely to create an environment favorable to China and reduce civilian and military resistance to PLA actions.”

The report described CDO as “a more aggressive form of psychological warfare” intended to “affect a target’s cognition, decision making, and behavior.”

Mr. Gallagher said that CCP leader Xi Jinping considered CDO as a vital weapon in the regime’s arsenal that could be used to manipulate the American people at key moments, such as during an election cycle.

“In Xi Jinping’s view, the war has already started on the most important battlefield: your mind,” Mr. Gallagher said.

Data Suggests TikTok Taking Direction From CCP

Mr. Gallagher pointed to TikTok as the regime’s most powerful tool for conducting cognitive warfare.

People walk past the headquarters of ByteDance, the parent company of video sharing app TikTok, in Beijing on Sept. 16, 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

Though the company denies that it takes direction from China-based parent company ByteDance, executives have previously acknowledged its censoring and “heating” of content at the request of the CCP.

To that end, Mr. Gallagher shared several slides suggesting that TikTok is still taking orders from Chinese communist authorities.

The slides demonstrated that posts about “viral topics” in politics and pop culture were proportionately represented on TikTok and Instagram in relation to the number of monthly users that both apps had.

Thus, there were about twice as many posts about Democrats, former President Donald Trump, Taylor Swift, and the “Barbie” movie on Instagram because Instagram has about twice as many monthly users as TikTok.

That proportionality changes, however, when one looks at topics heavily criticized or censored by the CCP.

There were about nine times fewer posts about the Uyghurs on TikTok than on Instagram, for example. And there were 30 times fewer posts about Tibet.

Moreover, there were 153 times fewer posts on TikTok about the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, a topic heavily censored by Beijing in the mainland.

“In the best-case scenario, TikTok is CCP spyware—that’s why so many state and national governments have banned it on official phones,” Mr. Gallagher said.

“In the worst-case scenario, TikTok is perhaps the largest scale malign influence operation ever conducted.”

TikTok Could Cause ‘Absolute Chaos’ in 2024 Elections

What’s more, Chinese state-owned media outlets have explicitly cited TikTok as a tool for advancing the regime’s goals, testified John Garnaut, a senior fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank.

Mr. Garnaut noted that the CCP Central Committee’s official paper described TikTok as a key component in its effort to “allow short video platforms to become ‘megaphones’ for telling Chinese stories well and spreading Chinese voices well.”

Another story in the same paper said that the concepts of freedom, democracy, and human rights were invented to “compete with us [the CCP] for positions, hearts, and masses, and ultimately overthrow the leadership of the Communist Party of China and our country’s socialist system.”

To that end, Mr. Garnaut said that TikTok was “a project of total ideological control” by the CCP, with “enormous” potential to radically shape the information that Americans receive.

The ability of this platform to manipulate public opinion at crucial moments … I think that’s the issue for deep concern,” Mr. Garnaut said.

Mr. Gallagher said earlier in the week that the CCP could exploit the app to cause “absolute chaos” in the U.S. 2024 presidential election.

Mr. Garnaut agreed with that sentiment, saying that the presence of any CCP disinformation could have detrimental effects regardless of whether it was believed. He pointed to the 2016 elections as evidence for such a phenomenon.

“Mueller found no evidence that Russia caused the election of Trump or that Trump had colluded with Russia,” Mr. Garnault said. “Nevertheless, Russia’s interference fed perceptions that bitterly divided Americans and wounded the faith of many that the election had been free and fair.”

Tyler Durden
Mon, 12/04/2023 – 00:00

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