In the face of growing calls to boycott the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese government is now planning to hire American social media influencers to promote the games on their behalf, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The Chinese consulate, located in New York City, recently hired Vippi Media, a public relations firm, to reach out to various influencers for the promotional campaign. As described in Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) disclosures filed with the Department of Justice, Vippi will spend $300,000 to hire stars on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitch to both promote the games and encourage cooperation between the United States and China.
The exact influencers who will be utilized have not yet been chosen, according to Vippi’s founder Vipp Jaswal. The firm plans to hire at least eight different influencers, who will produce at least 24 different posts advertising the games, celebrating the history of Beijing, and discussing relations between China and the United States. The contract with Vippi specifically calls for content that emphasizes “cooperation and any good things in China-U.S. relations.”
The move comes after the White House announced that no United States government officials would be appearing at the winter games next year. The significant decision has led to greater calls for boycotts across the board, with human rights groups lobbying NBC to not broadcast the games, and other organizations demanding that corporate sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Intel, and Visa, withdraw their support for the games.
Jaswal voiced his opposition to such boycott efforts and unequivocally defended China, claiming that such boycotts would have “no impact” on China, and would only serve to further “aggravate” the Chinese government.
In addition to long-standing human rights violations committed on a regular basis by the Chinese government, such as the internment and forced slave labor of Uyghur Muslims, China is facing a new wave of criticism over the disappearance of star tennis player Peng Shuai; after Shuai accused Zhang Gaoli, a former high-ranking official in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), of sexually assaulting her, she disappeared and has not been heard from since, outside of official press releases issued by the CCP that maintain she is still alive and well.