A professional-China affect marketing campaign singled out uncommon earth mining corporations in Australia, Canada, and the U.S. with unfavourable messaging in an unsuccessful try to control public discourse to China’s profit.
Focused corporations included Australia’s Lynas Uncommon Earths Ltd, Canada’s Appia Uncommon Earths & Uranium Corp, and the American firm USA Uncommon Earth, risk intelligence agency Mandiant mentioned in a report final week, calling the digital marketing campaign Dragonbridge.
“It focused an business of strategic significance to the PRC, together with particularly three industrial entities difficult the PRC’s international market dominance in that business,” Mandiant famous.
The aim, the corporate famous, was to instigate environmental protests towards the businesses and propagate counter-narratives in response to potential or deliberate uncommon earths manufacturing actions involving the targets.
This comprised a community of 1000’s of inauthentic accounts throughout quite a few social media platforms and boards, that labored in tandem to disseminate content material that seemingly raised issues over alleged environmental, well being, and labor points over the operations of the three corporations.
A few of the bogus accounts masqueraded as Texas residents in a public 1,200-member Fb group referred to as “STOP LYNAS! NO to Lynas Exporting and Creating One other Poisonous Legacy,” alleging the mining agency dangers exposing native populations to radioactive contamination and poisoning.
A majority of the posts have been primarily in English, with restricted content material written in Chinese language and Malay. That mentioned, the exercise is alleged to have obtained solely restricted engagement within the type of likes and feedback from different accounts.
This isn’t the primary time the actor has been linked to disinformation operations carried out in help of the Folks’s Republic of China (PRC). Whereas earlier actions in June 2019 have been primarily centered on discrediting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, they’ve since sought to bodily mobilize protestors within the U.S. in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“DRAGONBRIDGE’s focusing on of further uncommon earths mining corporations underscores the marketing campaign’s capability to observe developments and reply accordingly,” the researchers mentioned.