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China employs anti-boycott US media firm to boost its image for the Beijing Winter Olympics

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(TibetanReview.net, Jan23’22) – Given the severe beating it has received from criticisms of its human rights record and the consequent diplomatic boycotts and continuing calls for further boycotts of its Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which are set to take place over Feb-Mar 2022, China has hired a US media firm to recruit social media influencers who would give a positive spin to its severely bruised image and ego.

Under it, Vippi Media had signed a $300,000 deal to employ influencers to create content across TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch. The Chinese government is thereby turning to social media influencers to help improve its tarnished image ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games next month in Beijing, reported the businessinsider.in Jan 23.

The report said the agreement, registered with the US Department of Justice, began in November and runs through Mar 2022, when the Winter Paralympics would end.

China denies that any of the allegations of widespread, systematic, and severe human rights violations being carried out by it, whether in Tibet, Xinjiang or the mainland itself is true and so sees no reason to mend its ways. Rather, it sees the issue as one to be handled with a public relations ploy.

Citing Open Secrets, a DC-based organization that tracks money in American politics, the report said China had spent more than a decade on media messaging efforts overseas, spending nearly $60 million in the US in 2020 and $23 million in 2021.

The report said the Vippi Media agreement had laid out a detailed social media strategy in which influencers will be tasked with producing three to five pieces of content for their target audiences. The influencers were stated to be divided into three tiers — “macro influencers,” “mid-tier influencers,” and “social publishers” — based on their number of followers and platform activity.

Under the contact, the Chinese government is stated to have requested the posts be divided into 70% culture-related content — highlighting the history, cultural relics, modern life, and current trends in Beijing — 20% diplomatic content related to “cooperation and any good things in China-US relations. The remaining 10% of content will pertain to the news and trends from the consulate general.

Vipinder Jaswal, a former Fox News and HSBC executive who runs Vippi Media, has spoken of his opposition to the Beijing Winter Olympics boycott call and in support of the Chinese money.

“What we are trying to do is to simply highlight the integrity and dignity of the Olympics. … Boycotts don’t help mutual understanding … I don’t support boycotts. They are ineffective, irrelevant and inconsequential,” he has told The Guardian.

He has spoken of having already received up to 50 pitches from influencers, including former Olympic athletes and entrepreneurs. As outlined in the contract, Jaswal has planned to deliver a total of 3.4 million impressions across social media platforms frequented by younger demographics.

The Vippi Media exec has faced criticism over the deal. Earlier this month, Florida Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to Newsweek, where Jaswal serves as a contributor, asking the publication to reconsider its working relationship with him in light of China’s human rights problems, the report said.

Jaswal has hit back at the Senator and his human rights stance, and in favour of the Chinese money, calling “the arrogance with which he projects his hypocrisies truly entertaining.”

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