China says US is the true ’empire of lies’

BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States is the true “empire of lies”, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Saturday, lashing out at a U.S. State Department report that accused Beijing of ploughing billions of dollars annually into information manipulation efforts.

China is manipulating global media through censorship, data harvesting and covert purchases of foreign news outlets, the U.S. State Department said in the report on Thursday.

Despite the unprecedented resources devoted to the campaign, Beijing had hit “major setbacks” when targeting democratic countries, due to local media and civil society push-back, according to the report, which was produced under a congressional mandate to detail state information manipulation.

The report has disregarded facts, and is itself false information, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

The agencies of the U.S. State Department that produced the report “were the source of false information and the command post of ‘cognitive warfare’,” the Chinese ministry said.

“Facts have repeatedly proven that the United States is the true ’empire of lies’,” it added.

The U.S. report comes amid controversy over China’s attempts in recent years to increase the global footprint of its government-controlled media. Beijing is seeking to combat the negative images of China it feels are propagated by global media.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Giles Elgood)