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News portal in India, boot camp in Africa: How US tech mogul’s community pushes Chinese propaganda

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By India Today World Desk: Over two years in the past, an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate discovered that media portal NewsClick on had acquired round Rs 38 crores funding from overseas. Investigators traced the stream of funds to an American millionaire, Neville Roy Singham, who was alleged to have shut affiliation with the propaganda arm of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The ED findings on the time have been flagged by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which alleged that “anti-india” parts, in league with international forces, have been “part of a conspiracy to demean the country and target the ruling Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government”.

“All these US companies (linked to flow of funds to NewsClick) are registered in one address. All this clearly reveals that those running NewsClick were not only running a campaign to defame and destabilize the Narendra Modi government, but also conspiring against India and trying to create unrest and disturb harmony,” BJP chief Sambit Patra had mentioned.

There have been allegations of the information portal having ties to the Chinese authorities.

Two years later, a New York Times investigation unearthed an intrinsically linked community of activists’ teams, non-profit organisations, shell corporations, and their shut ties to China and Chinese propaganda. At the center of this community is tech mogul Neville Roy Singham.

“In New Delhi, corporate filings show, Singham’s network financed a news site, NewsClick, that sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points,” The New York Times mentioned.

China, which has been making an attempt to say its financial and international would possibly for fairly a while now, used this international ecosystem of activists and NGOs to construct a community that subtly promotes the Chinese nation and parrots the federal government’s stance.

The New York Times investigation revealed how China has been in a position to deflect worldwide criticism of its human rights abuses and the way its speaking factors on international issues are being weaved into worldwide discourses by means of this community.

“It is part of a lavishly funded influence campaign that defends China and pushes its propaganda. At the center is a charismatic American millionaire, Neville Roy Singham, who is known as a socialist benefactor of far-left causes,” the New York Times mentioned.


Hundreds of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in donations have been traced to teams linked to Neville Roy Singham that “mix progressive advocacy with Chinese government talking points”.

The Enforcement Directorate had traced hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in donations to NewsClick on. India shouldn’t be the one nation that has acquired funding from Singham’s community. The New York Times investigation tracked the funding to a information organisation in Brazil, a suppose tank in Massachusetts, an occasion house in Manhattan, and a political social gathering in South Africa.

At current, Nevilla Singham (69) is in Shanghai. One of his community shops is co-producing a YouTube present, partly financed by Shanghai’s propaganda division. Two different shops of the tech mogul are working in shut affiliation with a Chinese college to “spread China’s voice to the world.”
Neville Roy Singham is seen with Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans (middle) and progressive philanthropist Abigail Disney on the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

In July, Neville Roy Singham attended a Communist Party workshop about selling the social gathering internationally. However, Singham has claimed that he doesn’t work on the course of the Chinese authorities.


A report by the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) in 2021 had found how a community of faux social media profiles have been getting used to push pro-China narratives, discredit these seen as opponents of Chinese authorities, and increase China’s affect and picture abroad.

But the propaganda was to be disguised as impartial content material.

The networks, although not discovered to be instantly linked to the Chinese authorities, have been found to resemble pro-China networks beforehand taken down by social media platforms Twitter and Facebook.

The New York Times investigation of Neville Roy Singham’s community confirmed the method of how disinformation influenced mainstream conservative discourses.

Singham’s teams have produced YouTube movies that promote pro-Chinese messages. The movies, all collectively, have garnered over hundreds of thousands of views. The affect doesn’t finish on the web, and it’s not nearly praising Chinese advantage. These networks have their tentacles in world politics as nicely.

Some of Neville Roy Singham’s teams sought to affect real-world politics. The group members met with congressional aides and skilled politicians in Africa, ran candidates in South African elections, and organised protests in London’s Chinatown.

This course of has translated into the cropping up of far-left teams that echo Chinese authorities speaking factors. These teams “echo one another, and are echoed in turn by the Chinese state media”, the New York Times reported.


The community is constructed on the again of American nonprofit teams, the New York Times mentioned, with its probe revealing the online of charities and shell corporations. Some teams, like No Cold War, don’t exist as authorized entities however are as a substitute tied to Neville Roy Singham’s community by means of area registration data and shared organisers.

Notably, No Cold War is run principally by American and British activists, who argue that the West’s rhetoric towards China has distracted from points like local weather change and racial injustice.

Apart from this, “none of Singham’s nonprofits have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as is required of groups (in the US) that seek to influence public opinion on behalf of foreign powers. That usually applies to groups taking money or orders from foreign governments,” the probe discovered.

While different millionaires and billionaires have their names stamped on nonprofit organisations, Neville Roy Singham selected to hide his ties to them.

Four non-profit organisations, with names like “United Community Fund” and “Justice and Education Fund, were found to have almost no real-world footprints. Their addresses were listed as UPS store mailboxes in Illinois, Wisconsin and New York. But these four non-profits threw out “a shower of money from an invisible source”.

Singham shouldn’t be listed as a board member or donor within the public filings by these nonprofits. In reality, he has categorically denied controlling them. “I do not control them,” he mentioned in his assertion, “although I have been known to share my opinions.”

But the probe revealed how Neville Roy Singham is carefully tied to the 4 nonprofits.

The largest of the 4 nonprofits is run by Singham’s spouse, Jodie Evans. The group’s founding bylaws say that Singham can fireplace Evans and the remainder of the board. The bylaws additionally require that the group dissolve after Singham’s demise.

The different three teams have been based by former Thoughtworks staff, the Times probe revealed. Thoughtworks is a Chicago-based IT consulting firm based by Singham within the Nineteen Eighties.


Millions of {dollars} flowed from these nonprofits, with the cash being tracked to a South African political social gathering, YouTube channels within the United States, and nonprofits in Ghana and Zambia.

“In Brazil, records show, money flowed to a group that produces a publication, Brasil de Fato, that intersperses articles about land rights with praise for Xi Jinping,” the New York Times reported.

The teams work in tandem with one another, all of the whereas refraining from disclosing their ties. They cross-post articles, share one another’s content material on social media- all to seemingly give off the notion of “independent content”.

Apart from these, these nonprofits have donated hundreds of thousands of {dollars} for coaching at Nkrumah School, set in a preferred safari space in South Africa. The faculty hosts boot camps across the 12 months that are attended by activists and politicians from throughout Africa.

As per US tax data, one of many UPS retailer nonprofits, the People’s Support Foundation, donated no less than $450,000 for coaching on the faculty. Jodie Evans, Neville Roy Singham’s spouse, shared a photograph of the grounds as “Roy’s new place.”

The New York Times probe additionally revealed that in South Africa, the muse has despatched $5.6 million to teams that run the varsity; a information group; and the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party, a fringe social gathering launched forward of the 2019 election.

An interview with social gathering members revealed that the main focus of the social gathering gave the impression to be China, and never the problems of employment and poverty plaguing Africa. The social gathering members have been additionally not allowed to query the Chinese state behaviour.

Meanwhile, on the boot camp, Chinese matters quietly seeped into the curriculum.

“At a recent session, reading packets said that the United States was waging a “hybrid war” towards China by distorting details about Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Xinjiang area the place Uyghurs have been held in camps,” the New York Times mentioned.

Apart from this, the tax data additionally confirmed that almost $1.8 million flowed from one of many UPS retailer nonprofits to Chinese media firm referred to as Maku Group.

Maku Group, which says its objective is to “tell China’s story well,” shares the workplace with Neville Roy Singham in Shanghai.

Not simply this, a number of years in the past, Singham had emailed his mates to introduce a e-newsletter, now referred to as Dongsheng News, that covers China in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Dongsheng “provides unique progressive coverage of China that has been sadly missing,” Singham had informed mates.

Neville Roy Singham’s ‘private views’

While Neville Roy Singham’s networks have been accused of getting ties to the Chinese authorities, the tech mogul has denied the costs.

“I categorically deny and repudiate any suggestion that I am a member of, work for, take orders from, or follow instructions of any political party or government or their representatives,” he wrote in an electronic mail to the New York Times. “I am solely guided by my beliefs, which are my long-held personal views.”

His associates confirmed Singham’s admiration for Maoism, the Communist ideology that gave rise to fashionable China. In the previous, Singham praised Venezuela underneath the leftist president Hugo Chávez as a “phenomenally democratic place”, and had mentioned the world may be taught from China’s governing strategy.

Majdi Haroun, a former worker at Thoughtworks, recalled Singham lecturing him on the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. Haroun mentioned staff generally jokingly referred to as one another “comrades.”

Singham funded left-wing causes whereas at Thoughtworks. He offered the corporate to a non-public fairness agency in 2017, by which period it had 4,500 staff throughout 15 nations, together with South Africa and Uganda. A duplicate of the sale settlement put the value at $785 million, the New York Times reported.

“I decided that at my age and extreme privilege, the best thing I could do was to give away most of my money in my lifetime,” Neville Roy Singham mentioned in his assertion.

On the non-public entrance, Singham’s spouse, Jodie Evans, who helped type Code Pink, was as soon as a strident critic of China’s authoritarian authorities. “We demand China stop brutal repression of their women’s human rights defenders,” she wrote on Twitter in 2015.

But Jodie Evans now voices help for China, casting it as a “defender of the oppressed and a model for economic growth without slavery or war.”

“If the US crushes China,” she mentioned in 2021, it “would cut off hope for the human race and life on Earth.”
Code Pink activist holding an indication that learn ‘Stop Asian Hate’. (AP picture)

While the world leaders and human rights specialists have condemned China’s internment of Uyghurs, Evans describes the Uyghurs as terrorists and defends their mass detention. “We have to do something,” she mentioned in 2021.

Meanwhile, Code Pink has additionally been vocal in defending the Chinese authorities’s insurance policies. In a 2021 video, a employees member of Code Pink in contrast Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators to the rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 that 12 months.

The Code Pink activists have additionally denied proof of pressured labor in Xinjiang.

As per the New York Times probe, the Chinese state media accounts have retweeted folks and organisations in Singham’s community no less than 122 instances since February 2020, principally accounts linked with No Cold War and Code Pink.