Opinion: Who’s wearing the pants?

Joe Biden does not wear the pants in the Biden family. Who does wear them? His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, to whom Joe the Schmoe has been married for 47 years. She is called his “Protector” by other politicians and by members of the press.


Mrs. Biden thinks nothing of putting herself physically between her doting 78-year-old husband and those who for whatever reason want to get close to him.”


They reared three children: Beau (Feb. 3, 1969-May 30, 2015), Hunter, and Naomi Biden.


Hunter and Beau — especially Hunter — have been suspected of trying to use their father’s influence to cash in on Chinese communist business connections. Hunter, for example, is said to have earned some $50,000 a month as a “fixer” in the Chinese oil business, according to Chinese media, American newspapers and American broadcasters.


Beijing’s campaign to control narratives about China the world over is attracting more attention — and opposition from other countries.


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and various Chinese government entities have long sought to influence public debate and media coverage about China around the world, a trend that has accelerated in recent years. Over the past month, a number of news reports and investigations, often by local journalists, have highlighted new evidence of how Chinese government-linked actors impact global information flows via propaganda, censorship, surveillance, and control over infrastructure. In response, various governments and technology firms have taken steps to undermine the negative effects CCP influence has on media and internet freedom. This article calls attention to some of these new developments.


In Southeast Asia, Thailand’s cash-strapped media companies are increasingly relying on Chinese state media like the official newswire, Xinhua News Agency, to provide coverage on the global response to the coronavirus. But China’s influence on Thai news precedes the pandemic, with at least a dozen outlets having inked partnerships with Xinhua and 2019 being named by the Thai government as the “ASEAN-China Year of Media Exchanges.”


Farther afield, according to Italian journalist Gabriel Carrer, writing at Formiche, coverage on Italy’s public television of Chinese government assistance to the coronavirus-ravaged country has been three times greater than comparable coverage of U.S. government help. The coverage appears to have contributed to improved public opinion of China vis-à-vis the United States, according to recent polls.


Meanwhile, The Times of India reports that many videos on the Chinese-based app TikTok that discuss recent military tensions along the India-China border have been subject to “shadow bans,” effectively hiding them from other users on the platform. Thus, according to the article, “#ladakhchinaborder, #chinaladakh, #chinainladakh are all hashtags that exist,” but have “zero views and no link to the videos.” India has TikTok’s largest user base, with over 150 million monthly active users. The events have given rise to further speculation that TikTok censors material critical of China.


Speaking of the United States, in early June, Google’s Threat Analysis Group announced that a China-linked hacking group had conducted phishing attacks against the campaign of U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden. Although they reported that the assaults appeared not to have been successful, it is the first indication of China-based actors targeting the campaign, either for the purposes of influencing the presidential contest, or to gain intelligence on a potential incoming administration.


And on June 10, Axios reported that the U.S.-based video conferencing company, Zoom, had shuttered the account of Chinese American democracy advocate Zhou Fengsuo after he organized a virtual commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre using the application. The account was reinstated after the news report was published. Zoom has done extensive product development in China, and later admitted that the closure had been triggered by a request from the Chinese government.


As China’s influence grows, however, so too does the pushback from other countries.