China TV spreads fake videos of Italians thanking them for medical aid

An investigation by the British business newspaper Financial Times has uncovered how Chinese state TV doctored several videos showing Italians clapping and cheering while the national Chinese anthem is being played.

The videos were never picked up by Italian media but heavily spread on Chinese state TV CGTN (a part of the China Global Television Network group, it is owned and operated by China Central Television).

In March, China sent a medical team over to Italy to help fight the coronavirus. In order to stave off possible criticism from its own citizens still in lockdown, the Chinese government then spread videos showing how the Italian population would clap onto the Chinese national anthem. However, an investigation has now shown that most of the videos, which were released on social media by Chinese government officials at the time, are in fact fake.

Here is the original video, showing a man in Torino clapping in order to thank Italian doctors and medical workers for their help during the corona crisis. At 16 seconds in, you can see a man with a white shirt standing on his balcony clapping.

Parts of that same video has then been used to create a fake video showing the same man clapping, but this time the sound has been replaced by the Chinese national anthem. He will be shown 17 seconds into the video.

The above video was tweeted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

Other videos were also spread. This one from CGTN said: ‘Chinese national anthem was filmed playing during the “balcony concert” on Saturday in Rome. The Italian man who played Chinese national anthem said on the speakers, “I am not sure if there is a Chinese neighbor here. But I would like to sincerely thank China and the people there”. In the last few days, China has sent a team of experts to Italy, together with medical supplies to support the fight against COVID-19.‘

A similar video also appeared on the website of New China, the channel that also released the now infamous ‘once upon a virus’ video that criticized the US for their response to the coronavirus.

Mr Alessandro Ciapetti, who works as a Fact Checker for Pagella Politica according to his Linkedin profile, responded to the claims from the Financial Times. He stated the videos shown on Chinese TV are nothing but an “artfully created montage.”

“Italy has become front and centre for disinformation in Chinese on social media. We see fake news every day, but it is surprising to see something this crude shared by Chinese government officials.” 

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