China is suspected of using artificial intelligence (AI) on social media to sway Taiwanese and US voters, Microsoft said on Thursday, adding that Taiwan and the US are likely to remain the top two priorities for Chinese influence operations, particularly with elections in both nations next year.
China’s state-affiliated hackers showed “continued interest” in Taiwan and the South China Sea in reflection of Beijing’s strategic objectives, the research report said.
Chinese hacker groups Flax Typhoon and Charcoal Typhoon were identified as the most prominent entities targeting Taiwan, conducting attacks on education, telecommunications, information technology, energy infrastructure and high-tech manufacturing.
The Flax Typhoon group notably utilized a custom-made virtual private network to “directly establish a presence within the target network,” it said.
Beijing-affiliated groups allegedly conduct large-scale operations to influence public opinion in foreign nations to suit China’s interests through state-owned media and numerous troll accounts across social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, TikTok and X, previously known as Twitter, the report said.
China’s focus has moved away from sheer volume of posts to leveraging influencers with cultural and linguistic knowledge, as well as high-quality video content, which has increased its success in garnering authentic engagement, the report said.
A screen shot of two viral posts calling on Taiwan to surrender to China on an unnamed platform was cited as evidence of Beijing’s conducting coordinated influence operations.
“China has continued to expand its cybercapability and shown much more ambition in its IO [influence operation] campaigns,” it said. “We can expect wider cyberespionage against both opponents and supporters of [Beijing’s] geopolitical objectives on every continent.”
The campaign bore similarities to activity that the US Department of Justice has attributed to “an elite group within [the Chinese] Ministry of Public Security,” Microsoft said.
A Chinese embassy spokesperson in Washington said that accusations of China using AI to create fake social media accounts were “full of prejudice and malicious speculation,” and that China advocates the safe use of AI.
It provided limited examples of activity and did not explain in detail how researchers attributed the posts to China.
A Microsoft spokesperson said that the company’s researcher used a “multifaceted attribution model,” which relies on “technical evidence, behavioral evidence and contextual evidence.”
The campaign began using generative AI technology in about March to create politically charged content in English and “mimic US voters,” Microsoft said.
The new content is much more “eye-catching than the awkward visuals used in previous campaigns by Chinese nation-state actors, which relied on digital drawings, stock photo collages, and other manual graphic designs,” the researchers wrote.
The paper cited an example of one AI-generated image, which Microsoft said came from a Chinese account, that depicts the Statue of Liberty holding an assault rifle with the caption: “Everything is being thrown away. THE GODDESS OF VIOLENCE.”
The Microsoft spokesperson said the accounts had attempted to appear American by listing their location as within the US, posting US political slogans and sharing domestic political hashtags.
Indonesia has sent hundreds of riot police to a tiny island after protests broke out against a China-backed project that would displace thousands of residents. About 1,000 people protested in Batam City on Monday over a plan to develop Rempang island into a Chinese-funded economic zone, including the construction of a multibillion-dollar glass factory, that would displace about 7,500 people. Some protesters clashed with security forces outside a government agency, wielding machetes, Molotov cocktails and stones, police said, adding that dozens were arrested. Beijing has poured money into infrastructure and resource projects in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy and its investments have previously caused
‘HARASSMENT’: A record 103 Chinese warplanes were detected in 24 hours, posing severe challenges to security in the Taiwan Strait and the region, the ministry said Taiwan yesterday told China to stop its “destructive unilateral actions” after more than 100 Chinese warplanes and nine navy ships were detected in areas around the nation. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) described the number of warplanes detected in 24 hours as a “recent high,” while Beijing has so far refrained from issuing any official comment on the sorties. “Between the morning of September 17th to 18th, the Ministry of National Defense had detected a total of 103 Chinese aircraft, which was a recent high and has posed severe challenges to the security across the Taiwan Strait and in the region,”
China would be making “a grave strategic mistake” if it tried to attack Taiwan, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley said in an interview with CNN that aired on Sunday. Asked by host Fareed Zakaria whether the US could repel a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, Milley said: “It is entirely possible.” Milley reiterated that the US still maintains the Taiwan Relations Act, and that it wants “a peaceful outcome between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China, and whatever that is between those two peoples.” “Militarily, I think China would make a grave strategic mistake if they attempted to
‘CRITICAL TRADE PARTNER’: The proposal had momentum due to a bipartisan consensus on boosting the economic partnership with Taiwan, a US senator said The US Senate Committee on Finance on Thursday passed the US-Taiwan Expedited Double Tax Relief Act, with US officials saying that it would ease pressure on investors and boost the partnership between Taipei and Washington, although Taiwan needs to enact reciprocal legislation for it to take effect. The bill — which was developed by US senators Ron Wyden, the committee’s chairman, and ranking member Mike Crapo, along with US representatives Jason Smith, chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, and ranking member Richard Neal — was passed in a 27-0 vote. The proposal had momentum because of