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Trump launched CIA covert influence operation against China

via New York Post

The CIA launched a covert influence campaign in China in 2019 under orders from President Trump, according to former officials.

The small team used fake online identities to promote narratives damaging to China’s leadership and leaked disparaging intelligence about corruption and the Belt and Road initiative.

“The feeling was China was coming at us with steel baseball bats and we were fighting back with wooden ones,” a former national security official stated.

The goal was to sow paranoia among Chinese leaders and force the government to spend resources monitoring intrusions.

The operation expanded globally where the US and China compete for influence in places like Southeast Asia, Africa and the South Pacific.

It came in response to years of aggressive Chinese covert influence operations.

Critics warn the campaign could backfire by bolstering China’s claims of Western subversion and endangering dissidents who could be falsely portrayed as US assets.

“‘Look at the United States intervening in the internal affairs of other countries and rejecting the principles of peaceful coexistence,’” the campaign would be, according to former CIA analyst Paul Heer. “And there are places in the world where that is going to be a resonant message.”

The impact and whether Biden has continued the program remains unclear.

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