Author: Yi Zu
Mr. Guo mentioned several times in the live broadcast that an Australian online study showed that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had launched the world most intensive cyberattacks against him over the past few years. Today, we will refine some of the specifics content and data mentioned in this study.
The name of the Australian research institute called Australia Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), here is their website: https://www.aspi.org.au.
ASPI is an independent think tank established by the Australian Government in 2001 and partly funded by the Australian Department of Defence and other sources of revenue. The purpose of developing ASPI is to provide timely expert advice to national leaders on Australia’s strategy and defence. ASPI is now Australia’s most authoritative institute for open discussion of strategic policy issues, a widely cited source of information and a recognized voice for Australia in international strategic dialogue, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
The study was published on September 3, 2019 under the title “Tweeting through the Great Firewall” by Tom Uren, Elise Thomas and Jacob Wallis. Link:https://www.aspi.org.au/report/tweeting-through-great-firewall
The article mentioned Twitter released some account data which targeting at protests in Hong Kong on August 19, 2019. It also stated that the cyberattacks carried out by these accounts linked to the CCP. Researchers at the International Cyber Policy Center (ICPC), part of ASPI, collected and initially analyzed the data. The research found that the information against the Hong Kong protests was a relatively small and temporary activity, not a complex information war planned in advance. However, subsequent research found that the accounts were also carrying out cyberattacks against Mr. Guo, dating back to April 2017. This suggests that online account participants linked to the CCP may have been operating in secret on Western social media platforms for at least two years. Also, the most enduring target of these attacks is Mr. Guo. By far the most widespread attack on Mr. Guo has been found in data, far outweighing the protests in Hong Kong.
Note: The figure above shows data which attack Mr. Guo Wengui from April 2017 to July 2019.
As can be seen from the image above, the cyberattack against Mr. Guo began on April 24, 2017, five days after Interpol issued the Red Wanted, and then continued until the end of July 2019.
ASPI researchers collected a set of data from tweets from April 23, 2017, to May 4, 2017 (see chart below), which shows the number of tweets sent by these accounts each day. Interestingly, these accounts tweeted only on weekdays, tweets showed stagnation for a week on Chinese public holiday (Labour Day 01/05), and they do collectively not tweet every Wednesday. This suggesting that these activities likely designed by professional teams rather than real individuals using social media.
The data from ASPI shows that at least 38,732 tweets identified from 618 accounts targeting Mr. Guo. A series of cyberattacks focused on Mr. Guo’s character, from his personality to criminal charges against him and his betrayal of China to his relationship with Mr Bannon.
The data from ASPI also illustrates that cyberattacks on Mr. Guo linked to the timing of significant changes in the fighting between him and the CCP. On April 23, 2018, for example, the New York Times published a report that revealed Elliott Broidy’s deportation plan for Mr. Guo, which led to a spike in cyberattacks against Mr. Guo around that date.
Another interesting finding is that some tweets appear to be automatically set at a fixed period of time, such as the following:
The tweet mainly vilified Mr. Guo as a liar. This tweet was repeated 41 times by this user from 7 November 2017 to 15 June 2018, at varying hours of the day, but at only 12 or 42 minutes past the hour.
ASPI’s research also found that Twitter has seen a wave of internet users since Mr Guo began the whistleblower movement in 2017. ASPI has drawn the graph of a daily percentage of tweet language, according to “Twitter_ Language” data. As you can see from the image below, there wasn’t a lot of tweets in Chinese before April 2017, but by July 2017, Chinese tweets had witnessed a burst increase. Since then, a large number of tweets have been Chinese language and even peaked at more than 80% in October 2017.
The same conclusion can be drawn from the following chart of new Twitter users: Since April 2017, Twitter has seen a large number of new users, most of them are Chinese users.
In another interesting study by ASPI, Twitter has a large number of sleeping accounts that activated after April 2017 (see chart below, different colors represent different languages, the grey line represents the sleeping period between tweets). We can see that these accounts owners had posted tweets in a variety of languages, including Portuguese, Spanish, English and other languages, but not mandarin before their break in activity. However, after they resumed tweeting, the accounts began posting a Chinese language (orange), especially from the end of 2017. The figures suggest that communist-linked groups most likely began recruiting sleep accounts in late 2017.
Through the above data from ASPI, we can see that the CCP has spared no effort on cyberattacks on Mr. Guo, which are also in line with Interpol’s Red Wanted, Elliott Broidy and others repatriation attempts. The CCP had cast a dragnet including the so-called “mainstream media” smear attacks, rumours from traitors, and close lobbying by Liu Yanping (from China Ministry of National Security) and Sun Lijun (from China Ministry of Public Security). However, those are fragile under the whistleblower movement led by Mr. Guo. Victory will ultimately belong to the righteous and courageous people from the new Federal state of China.
(The article only represents author‘s opinion)