By James Jimenez

As we get closer to the 2025 National and Local Elections, the information landscape is being significantly influenced by the rising tide of brazenly pro-China social media accounts, particularly on X (formerly Twitter). Consider this a warning: these accounts are clearly part of a coordinated disinformation/misinformation campaign, aimed at shaping public discourse in ways that could impact voter behavior, and thus, the entire democratic process.

The China Touts

Numerous pro-China accounts on X have been observed ramping up their activity of late, posting multiple times per hour, disseminating content that ultimately supports Chinese interests in the West Philippine Sea. They parrot Chinese talking points from various sources – from official statements given by Chinese officials to op-ed articles in pro-China publications – passing off Chinese actions in the West Philippine Sea as defensive reactions to Filipino “provocation.”

What makes these accounts so insidious is that they have Filipino display names, and show pictures of Filipinos as their avatars. And when they’re not churning out pro-China content, you can find these accounts spewing stereotypical jingoisms. While the fake extreme patriotism may be a transparent ploy to those familiar with the tactics of information warfare, ordinary Filipino consumers of social media information can easily be misled into thinking that these pro-China sentiments are actually being embraced by truly patriotic Filipinos. This has the effect of legitimizing anti-Filipino rhetoric, and ultimately making it easier for unsuspecting Filipinos to join that particular bandwagon.

The Bogus Content

The content from these accounts run the gamut of misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda. Thus, one can find them giving out misleading statistics, engaging in historical revisionism, to pushing outright lies about Philippine territorial sovereignty. This manipulation of facts and narratives has one purpose: to create doubt about the Philippines’ rights to the West Philippine Sea in the minds of the uninformed and the ignorant.

Apart from touting narratives favorable to China, these bogus accounts also attempt to discredit opposing viewpoints. They belittle reports of Chinese belligerence as being nothing more than provocative Filipino propaganda; they heap ridicule on Filipino officials who happen to speak out on the issue of the West Philippine Sea; and while insisting that the Chinese warships in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zones are strictly peaceful and law-abiding, they do not hesitate to issue dire warnings of war and bloodshed, should Filipinos have the temerity to oppose Chinese interests.

Suddenly, elections

Given that a growing number of people get their news exclusively from social media platforms like X and TikTok, the spread of false information by pro-China accounts on these platforms can very quickly confuse and mislead voters.

For one thing, voters’ perceptions of candidates will be significantly affected. By spreading the notion that opposing China is wrong and brings with it the risk of war, voters might end up favoring – whether consciously or unconsciously – candidates who believe in appeasing the powerful neighbor and keeping the Philippines as meek as possible. When that happens, voters will be basing their decisions on manipulated information, rather than informed analysis.

It bears remembering that the proliferation of these pro-China accounts can also very well be symptomatic of foreign interference in our elections.

Foreign Deviltry

Election laws prohibit foreign influence in our elections for very good reason. Foreign interests may seek to influence the outcome of elections to install or support a government that is more favorable to their interests, policies, or ideologies, making it easier for them to accomplish their strategic objectives – even at the expense of the country’s best interests. This is precisely why the Senate was so spooked by the possibility that a foreign national might have been elected Mayor, who then used the power of her office to allow the entry and proliferation of illegal gambling operations.

Foreign interference is also a well-documented vector for destabilization attempts.  Bad actors work with willing local allies and seek to foment disunity and discord. Over time, this weakens the political power of the government, making it less credible on the international stage and more vulnerable to internal challenges.

Finally, it is no secret that foreign powers are always actively seeking to influence the geopolitical alignments and alliances of the Philippines. With the country straddling one of the most critical sea lanes in the world, and with the as-yet untapped wealth of natural resources hidden underneath the contested waters of the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines plays a key role in the strategies of every major power in the region. It stands to reason therefore, that foreign interests would strive to run influence campaigns on Filipino voters.

What can we do?

It is no exaggeration to say that the integrity of our electoral processes is at risk if the rising wave of red-tinged social media accounts isn’t confronted and addressed. Without any mitigating action, they will continue to dominate the information landscape, inevitably leading to the political weakening of the country against the importuning of foreign powers. As a perverse kind of bonus, it will undermine public trust in the electoral process and in government itself.

However, government cannot address this problem alone. With free-speech considerations in full effect, there is actually little government can do. It can reach out to social media companies, of course, but I personally know how frustrating that can be. Social media companies are practically republics unto themselves, and the Philippine government doesn’t have the kind of iron-fisted power that scares the billionaire-owners of these platforms to play by our rules. So in the end, a lot of the work to combat the influence of these pro-China accounts falls on the average netizen’s shoulders.

It is up to us to recognize propaganda and reject it. It is up to us to spread the awareness of the nonsense being served up as gospel truth, so that others can reject it as well. It is up to us to hold this line.


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