By Nathaniel Melican
PH Protect Project

Chinese state media organizations have been using the Filipino language to propagate pro-China messages on websites and social media.

These online outlets are constantly updated with news, features, and commentary in textual, audio, and video formats propagating China’s domestic and foreign policies, all in the Filipino language.

The country’s state-owned international radio broadcaster, China Radio International (CRI), maintains a dedicated microsite, and a Facebook page. These two online properties are updated with current news and information from China, with content translated into Filipino.

CRI also maintains a YouTube account for its Filipino service, and a separate Facebook page titled “Mga Pinoy sa Tsina”, which show more cultural updates and human interest stories from China, and whose contents are also in the Filipino language.

The CRI Filipino Service microsite contains links to these Facebook and YouTube pages. CRI’s parent company is the China Media Group (CMG), which also manages China National Radio and China Central Television (CCTV). CMG is under the direct supervision of the Chinese Communist Party.

CRI’s Filipino Facebook page, created on May 11, 2011, particularly has a considerable audience, with over 1.2 million accounts following it. Meanwhile, Mga Pinoy sa Tsina, created on Aug. 1, 2014,  has over 784,000 followers. Its YouTube channel, created on March 30, 2015, has 554 subscribers.

According to Facebook’s page transparency section, both pages are managed by over a dozen accounts originating from China. For both pages, only one account managing the pages seemed to have logged in from the Philippines. Other administrators, page managers, or accounts with key managerial access to the page logged in from other countries and territories.

Of these online properties, CRI Filipino Service’s microsite and Facebook page are constantly updated with news and information from China. They even posted a Filipino article about China’s representations to the Philippines on the latter’s resupply mission on March 23 to the BRP Sierra Madre marooned in Ayungin Shoal, which the Chinese call by the name of Ren’ai Jiao.

“Sa kanyang pakikipag-usap sa telepono, Marso 25, 2024, kay Pangalawang Kalihim Ma. Theresa Lazaro ng Kagawaran ng Ugnayang Panlabas ng Pilipinas, iniharap ni Pangalawang Ministrong Panlabas Chen Xiaodong ng Tsina ang mahigpit na representasyon kaugnay ng muling pagsasagawa ng panig Pilipino ng misyon ng pagsusuplay sa iligal na nakasadsad na bapor pandigma sa Ren’ai Jiao,” the first paragraph of the article, posted both on the microsite and the Facebook page, read.

The article goes on to claim China’s sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, where Ayungin Shoal is located and which the Chinese call by the name Nansha Qundao, despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in 2016 that China cannot rely on historical claims to assert sovereignty over the area. The Facebook post has garnered three likes and no shares as of March 27.

The page also crossposts video and audio content uploaded to CRI Filipino’s other online channels. These content cover interviews, reports, and cultural content relating to both China and the Philippines.

In the last few weeks, CRI Filipino Service began uploading videos with a caption on the thumbnail saying “AI-generated video.” Examples include a video about the “largest Starbucks in the world”, and an underground mall.

While the videos are not specific about where A.I. was used, some of the videos seem to have narration in Filipino that could have been generated by a text-to-speech application, while other videos even seem to have been modified so that the mouths of those talking seem to match with the Filipino audio track. PressOnePH