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'Chinese people fighting the echo chamber': Why 'despicable' translation group has angered Beijing

They claim they are volunteers translating posts from Chinese websites. They are called “psychological warfare” and “a deplorable anti-China smear operation”.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, the Great Translation Movement (TGTM), was started on Reddit.

Some of the most popular nationalistic opinions on Chinese social media were translated by users.

On a story about British soldiers who volunteered to fight in the war, the most popular comment was “Demons disguised like angels”. Laughable”.

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Another writer wrote, “Ukraine was a sharp knife that stabbed at Russia in America’s hands.”

The account now covers the war in Ukraine, the lockdown in Shanghai and COVID conspiracy theories, as well as online reaction to international news such as the earthquake in Japan. One user responded: “Wonderful. When will Mt Fuji erupt?” The account also covered casual racism, which is often a characteristic of Chinese social media.

“We are just Chinese people that hate the Chinese echo chamber and with a passion large enough to translate these comments over time,” said the person behind the account. Sky News reached out to the anonymous person via direct messages.

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They claim that there are many volunteers from different countries involved and that Chinese is their native tongue.

The popularity of TGTM has prompted a fierce response from the Chinese state media.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) controls the Global Times. They published several articles describing volunteers as Chinese-born people who “hate their homeland”, accusing it to be fuelling racism against Asians, and saying it cherry picks “nice, radical comments”.

Global Times stated that the image of China as well as Chinese people depicted in it was “arrogant, populist and cruel”

TGTM agrees with a portion of this.

Sky News: TGTM said that although we did cherry-pick our comments, we only chose the most popular ones. This, for most of the time, is a radical lunatic.

“We occasionally showed the sensible comments, but all of them received fractions of the upvotes and were bashed in the nationalists, who called them traitors, for instance.”

It said: “The increasing number of absurd comments we see on the Chinese Internet today is a culmination what the CCP intended them be, and the long-term consequences of mass censorship, propaganda, and exclusion, the exclusion from the outside world exacerbated with the language barrier; the collectivist Confucian Culture of unquestioningly following one’s rulers regardless of how despotic they might be; the memories of student protesters’ political outcomes during the budding democracy Tiananmen 1989; the destruction of scholarly thinking and values during the Cultural Revolution.”

Despite the negative reaction of Chinese state media, TGTM does not intend to stop.

Sky News was informed by the group that they believe it is important to keep reaching out to the rest the world to show them the Chinese internet and popular Chinese sentiments as well as what the CCP does.

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