The Great Translation Movement: ‘Despicable’ group accused of smearing China’s image insists its exposing online ‘echo chamber’

They say they are only volunteers translating posts from the Chinese internet. State media call them “a heinous anti-China smear campaign” and “psychological warfare”.

The Great Translation Movement (TGTM) started on Reddit after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Users published translations of some of the nationalist views that are trendy on Chinese social media.

For example, in a story about retired British soldiers who fought voluntarily, the highest-ranked comment was “Demons disguised as angels. Laughing.”

Another wrote: “Ukraine is a sharp knife stabbed against Russia in the hands of the United States.”

The account has gone beyond the war in Ukraine to cover the shutdown in Shanghai, COVID conspiracy theories and online reactions to international news, such as an earthquake in Japan (to which a user responded: “Wonderful, when will Fuji have an eruption?”), As well as the temporary racism that is often a feature of Chinese social media.

“We are just Chinese people who hate the Chinese Echo Chamber and have a passion big enough to translate these comments for a long time,” said a person behind the Twitter account, contacted by Sky News via instant messaging, who wished to remain anonymous. .

They say that a number of volunteers are involved, from different countries, and that Chinese tend to be their mother tongue.

TGTM’s popularity has provoked a strong reaction from Chinese state media.

The Global Times, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has published a number of articles describing the volunteers as people of Chinese descent who “hate their homeland”, accusing it of inciting racism against Asians and saying it cherry picks “fine. and radical comments “.

“Picture of China and the Chinese in their portrayal have been arrogant, populist, cruel and bloodthirsty, “wrote the Global Times.

TGTM agrees with some of that.

“We chose our comments, but we chose the most outspoken, who for the most part (well, every time actually) happen to be some radical lunatics,” TGTM told Sky News.

“We showed the sensible comments from time to time, everyone got fractions of the votes and were crushed by the nationalists and called them traitors, for example.”

It added: “The growing number of absurd comments on the Chinese internet that we see today is a culmination of what the CCP intended them to be, the long-term effects of mass censorship and propaganda, the exclusion of the outside world exacerbated by the language. The barrier, the collectivist Confucian the culture of unequivocally obeying its rulers no matter how despotic they are, the memories of the political consequences of student demonstrations during the burgeoning democracy of Tiananmen 1989, the destruction of scientific thinking and values ​​during the Cultural Revolution. “

And despite the reaction from Chinese state media, TGTM has no intention of quitting.

The group told Sky News: “No matter what, it is important to continue to reach out to the rest of the free world to show them the Chinese Internet, popular Chinese sentiment and what the CCP is doing.”

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