How China’s TikTok, Facebook influencers push propaganda:
Alongside its economic might, China is using the global reach offered by social media to expand its already extensive influence. The country has quietly built a network of social media personalities who parrot the government’s perspective in posts which hundreds of thousands of people see every day. These influencers operate in virtual lockstep with the Chinese Communist Party as they promote its virtues, deflect criticism of its human rights abuses, and advance the country’s talking points on issues such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine. One example of this is Vica Li who calls herself a “life blogger” and “food lover” and has 1.4 million followers across TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. The lens into China she offers is likely controlled by the Chinese-state run TV network where she has made numerous appearances and is listed as a digital reporter. Another such influencer, Journalist Li Jingjing, has used her channel to broadcast Russian propaganda over the war in Ukraine including claims that Ukraine is committing genocide against the Russian people. Most of China’s influencers use pitches similar to this to attract audiences from across the world. The AP has discovered dozens of these accounts with more than 10 million followers collectively, nearly all of them running ads on Facebook targeting users outside of China.
Russia Accused of Committing Warcrimes in Ukraine:
Smoke and fire are seen after shelling in Odesa, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022. Max Pshybyshevsky/AP
The Russian military announced that it struck an oil processing plant and fuel depots near the strategic Black Sea port of Odesa. Around this time there were reports of Russian Soldiers executing civilians. An AP crew on Sunday saw the bodies of what appeared to be nine Ukrainian civilians with at least two of having their hands tied behind their backs.The mayor of Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has accused Russian soldiers of committing "cruel war crimes'' in the town of Bucha northwest of the capital. He has gone on record saying, "what happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide." He and many other Ukrainians are calling on the West to end its gas imports from Russia in response to these crimes.
Taliban bans drug cultivation, including lucrative opium:
An Afghan man works on a poppy field in Jalalabad province April 17, 2014. REUTERS/ Parwiz
Towards the end of the Taliban’s rule in 2000, they banned poppy growing in a bid to gain international legitimacy but abandoned the stance after facing popular backlash. Afghanistan's opium production has increased in recent year to have an estimated worth of $1.4 billion at its height in 2017. The country’s economic situation has prompted residents to grow the illicit crop in hopes it will bring faster returns than legal crops can offer. Taliban sources say that they anticipated tough resistance over their reinstatement of the previous ban and that production of the illicit crop has grown in recent months. One farmer in Helmand who spoke on condition of anonymity said that, but went on to say that he needed to grow poppy to support his family.