- The Washington Times
Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Chinese diplomats and Communist Party officials are using free and open American social media sites to follow sexually explicit material that is banned in China, a review of multiple officials’ Twitter accounts reveals.

The pornography sites listed by Chinese officials, who include several ambassadors, consul generals and a Foreign Ministry official in Beijing, range from explicit sex videos and images to soft-core animated pornographic content, according to the findings of online sleuths who researched the accounts followed by prominent Chinese officials.


Among the more high-profile Chinese officials with a pornography link is Minister-Counselor Zhao Baogang, until recently the No. 2 official at the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe and now at the Foreign Ministry in Beijing.

Mr. Zhao follows 482 people on Twitter and lists among the scores of Chinese and international officials and journalists he tracks on Twitter the porn account Adult Video Online, which urges viewers to “Boost Your Sexual Potency [The] Natural Way — Watch Porn Movies.” The link on the account goes to a now-defunct porn site.

Several other Chinese officials scrubbed their Twitter accounts to remove all links to porn sites after their activity was exposed by online security trackers. Charles R. Smith, a veteran information security researcher, first uncovered the pornographic Twitter follows listed by Chinese diplomats working with a group of volunteer analysts known as Quad A-10.

Researchers discovered that Chinese government-linked internet commenters, known as the “50 Cent Army” or “wumao,” also are following online porn sites on their Twitter accounts.

Mr. Zhao is one of China’s new “wolf warrior” diplomats who frequently engage in aggressive nationalistic advocacy on social media. In March 2020, he tweeted that then-President Trump “is arrogant and lying all the time. He brings the country to the brink of disaster. Will the U.S. people continue to vote for him?”

“This seems to be a consistent problem for the PRC – all these diplomats following porn accounts, some really hard-core,” Mr. Smith said using the acronym for People’s Republic of China.

The Quad A-10 bills itself as an informal group of Twitter activists devoted to promoting democracy online and exposing Chinese information operations. Their Twitter posts have targeted activities of the so-called “50-Cent Army” — Chinese internet trolls who reportedly are paid the equivalent of 50 cents for each post in support of Chinese government policies. Quad A-10 members say their  work has prompted Twitter in recent months to deactivate thousands of China-based accounts.

The group began identifying Chinese diplomats who listed pornographic websites among the sites they follow on Twitter in the course of highlighting the activities of the 50 Cent Army trolls, as a way to highlight the hypocrisy of a government that bans the sites for ordinary Chinese citizens at home.

China’s ambassador to Cuba, Ma Hui on his account @MahuiChina followed the animated porn site @Nerone_Claudius, which is  linked to a paywalled site for explicit animated porn. Its tweets include salacious images of mainly female characters, often portrayals of young girls, engaged in various sex acts or in provocative poses.

Mr. Ma Hui, a former minister at the Chinese embassy in Britain, is a second high-ranking official also listed sexually-explicit online material among the sites he followed, according to a review of Twitter accounts.

The Chinese officials’ with accounts linked to pornography sites could not be reached for comment. A Chinese Embassy spokesman in Washington did not respond to an email request for comment.

Twitter, which is officially banned inside China, allows pornography and other forms of what it calls “consensually produced adult content” — if the material marked “sensitive” on the platform. A U.S. official familiar with the practice said pornography in China is officially banned but widely consumed.

Banned at home

Pornography has been banned by the Chinese Communist Party since taking power in 1949. The party launches periodic campaigns to stamp out pornography regarded as harmful and immoral. Thousands of websites have been shuttered and thousands have been arrested, according to a Reuters report.

China’s Office of the National Working Group for the Elimination of Pornography and Illegal Publications kicked off its latest eight-month campaign in March. The campaign ended last week.

Recent statistics from the most recent crackdown could not be learned. Chinese police in 2009 reported 5,394 arrests were made in that anti-porn drive.

“Internet pornography has not stopped despite repeated prohibitions nor caved under repeated attacks, causing serious harm to the physical and psychological health of minors and seriously corrupting social morality,” a notice from the office said. The campaign called on all agencies to carry out a comprehensive search of internet sites, search engines, software application stores and other Internet information service providers and network television drives, set-top boxes and other equipment.

“Any text, images, video, advertising or other information containing pornographic content will be immediately deleted without exception,” officials warned.

Two years ago, Chinese porn police began offering rewards of up to the equivalent of $86,000 to informants who report pornographic or other illicit material to the state. And earlier this year, China also launched a crackdown on video games, limiting youths under 18 from playing more than three hours per week.

But the crackdown at home has not been scrupulously observed by diplomats and Chinese officials posted outside the country.

Zha Liyou, currently the consul general at the Chinese consulate in Kolkata, India, tweeting under the account @ZhaLiyou, includes among his followers an account called @WangqiChinaTai, which offers an unusual combination of Japanese-style cartoon porn, Chinese cellphone advertisements and hard-core Chinese propaganda.

The  account @WangqiTai describes itself as “I’m Wang” from Taizhou, a city in Zhejiang Province, China, “I’m a man, I want to make Japanese friends! I like beautiful girl anime… Wishing for friendship between Japan and China.”

As with other anime porn, @WangqiTai posts many images of girls engaged in sex acts.

Numerous other Chinese officials also list the site among those they follow online, including Li Xiaosi, the Chinese ambassador to Austria; Xue Jian, Chinese consul general in Osaka, Japan; the Twitter account of the Chinese office of charge d’affaires in Lithuania; Li Bijian, consul general at the Chinese consulate in Karachi, Pakistan; and Zhang Heqing, a cultural affairs counselor at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad.

Mr. Zhang in March was forced to remove an offensive tweet that included a video of a dancing Chinese girl under the caption “off your hijab, let me see your eyes.#Xinjiang dance.”

Tucked away among the official account’s followers for the Chinese embassy in Sudan, @CHNembinSudan, is the site @hlcjlxc, which promotes sexually explicit images and videos, sex toys and various drugs the site claims enhance sexual pleasure.

Dong Xiaojun, ambassador to Bulgaria; Long Dingbin, consul general in Perth, Australia, and Zhao Yanbao, ambassador to Botswana, also showed up on lists of officials with links to sites with explicit material. Those officials altered their followings after they were confronted.

Analysts say anti-pornography campaigns are frequently used as political repression to silence any internet content judged as challenging the supremacy of the Communist Party. Chinese authorities have used the pornography ban against dissidents, according to the Justice Department.

In 2020, a China-based executive of Zoom, Xinjiang Jin, was charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment. The criminal complaint charged Mr. Jin with working to disrupt online meetings marking the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Prosecutors said Mr. Jin worked with Chinese police to set up fake email accounts of the dissidents and fabricate evidence the dissidents were supporting terrorism and distributing child pornography.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.


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