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Meet Terry-cotta, the new animated face of China’s propaganda campaign on Western social media

China's trying a new tactic.
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Ever since the coronavirus outbreak, China has been at the receiving end of backlash from several countries, and most notably the US for its censorship and oppression. In an effort to deflect the negative press and attention, China’s state news outlet Xinhua has come up with a new animated social media character addressing several recent issues and allegations surrounding China.

Named as Terry-cotta, the new animated character looks like a Periscope livestream with viewers and comments as well as little hearts floating around. These viewers and comments in the videos featuring the Terry-cotta character ask several questions surrounding the many controversies of the current times. The animated character then responds to these questions and speaks on behalf of China while presenting the state’s narrative around every issue.

And the questions posed to Terry-cotta are made up by China too.

Terry-cotta, for instance, answers an imaginary viewer’s question about how China shipped defective masks to Spain and it became a huge controversy. “Hola from Spain. Some of our hospitals complain your exported masks of poor quality. They could not protect medicos.”

Addressing the question, the Terry-cotta character said, “Actually, what masks this company exported to Spain were masks for daily protection. They are not up to the protective level of surgical masks, not to mention N95. Cases like this also happened in the Netherlands. Doctors and nurses, please ask your admin guys to get you the right kind of masks.”

It is worth noting that Spain was not the only country that was distraught with the masks that were imported from China. Countries such as India, Finland, Canada, and Turkey have also faced issues with the masks from China.

The video featuring the animated character also has a question that summarized the racial and xenophobic sentiments towards Asians in America. This is a narrative that was pushed by Chinese officials and bots in the early days of the outbreak and was picked up by Western media.

“Don’t buy anything from Terry. There are viruses on his stuff,” read the comment. Terry-cotta responded saying, “You can say whatever you like. You’re welcome to stay away from our masks. Like going out into a crowd, and stay away from our ventilators if you’re hospitalized”.

The video featuring Terry-cotta, clearly China’s response to various allegations it’s facing, is mainly aimed at the Western world. Considering the fact that YouTube is banned in China and the video was uploaded specifically on YouTube, it is clear that China is trying to spread it’s narrative to the English-speaking countries.

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