Shanghai-based media company Haixun Press is placing articles on over 30 American news websites to promote China, according to a Monday report by cybersecurity firm Mandiant.
The firm’s full name is Shanghai Yihuan Cultural Communication Co., Ltd. and it distributes news articles worldwide to reach specific audiences, including the U.S., according to its website. Articles Haixun Press is promoting have been posted in subsections of 32 or more legitimate American news outlets such as The Arizona Republic and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, according to Mandiant. (RELATED: Chinese Hackers Infiltrate Global Governments, Organizations, Security Firm Says)
Our team @Mandiant just dropped a blog detailing additional insights into the pro-PRC IO campaign “HaiEnergy,” and the role played by Chinese PR firm Shanghai Haixun Technology Co. Kudos to the Twitter-less Ryan Serabian for these discoveries. A short 🧵 https://t.co/SeSpRclIy2
— David Mainor (@DavidMainor13) July 24, 2023
Mandiant calls Haixun’s influence campaign “HaiEnergy” and asserts it may have funded two Washington, D.C., protests in 2022 and exploited them to advance narratives regarding divisive U.S. issues. For example, it allegedly used a protest to advance criticism of a June 2022 U.S. government decision to prohibit the importation of all goods manufactured in Xinjiang, China, due to the Chinese government’s forced labor of the Uyghur ethnic minority there.
Xinjiang is where almost half of the world’s solar panels are manufactured, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The protest focused on them, with signs stating “Solar Panels Are Paneless: Leave Them Alone” and “Solar Panels Rock Everything Else Kicks Dirt.”
HaiEnergy also uses a press release service called Times News Wire, which posted a story about the protest, Mandiant reported. Haixun social media accounts posted the same text that Times News Wire posted.
Moreover, when former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, Times News Wire posted an article criticizing her and The Arizona Republic posted the exact same one, Mandiant reported. The articles contain the same picture of Pelosi, the same headline and the same text.
“Many problems will accompany a visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” they state below a picture of Pelosi. “Frankly, it appears to be a silly photo op … the Biden administration has enough problems at home and abroad that it doesn’t need to look for them in China and Taiwan.”
Times News Wire posted an article titled, “The Frequent Shootings in the United States are the Greatest Contempt for Human Rights” and Pittsburgh Post Gazette posted the same one, citing Times News Wire, Mandiant reported.
Although the HaiEnergy campaign used Times News Wire, Mandiant states there is insufficient “technical evidence” that they are linked and therefore the firm “currently view[s] them as distinct entities.”
HaiEnergy uses American company FinancialContent, Inc. for news data, which is associated with many U.S.-based media outlets and provides content to them. All 32 of the American news outlets in the report had a message stating, “Data & News supplied by cloudquote.io,” which is a service of FinancialContent, Inc., according to Mandiant.
“These actors are trying to blur the line between fiction and fact by placing these pro-[China] articles onto legitimate U.S. news outlets, likely without their knowledge,” Ryan Serabian, senior analyst at Mandiant, told The Washington Post. “So, I think it’s very important for us to shine a spotlight on that so that measures are taken to prevent this from happening.”
Haixun, Mandiant, Arizona Republic and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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