Chinese Influence Op Tries to Undermine Western Rare Earth Firms
Security firm Mandiant claims to have discovered a new Chinese influence operation that is allegedly targeting Western rare earth producers. The campaign, named Dragonbridge, has been operating since 2019 and leverages thousands of inauthentic accounts spread across numerous social media platforms to achieve its goals of promoting Chinese interests abroad. Mandiant warns that the campaign could set the tone for future campaigns in other valuable sectors. Although the campaign might seem basic at first, Mandiant claims that recent developments have drawn security researchers’ attention. The attackers have been leveraging more nuanced tactics than previously observed.
One example is the usage of fake social media accounts posing as Texas residents to spur environmental and health concerns pertaining to a local rare earth plant. Mandiant said that the posts included those published to a social media groups that are predisposed to be receptive to this type of opinion-shaping content. In addition, the attackers used accounts to amplify criticisms of President Biden’s actions in the sphere, including the Defense Production Act. The three major companies targeted by the campaign, one in Australia, one in Canada, and one in the US, are all seen as threats to Chinese dominance over the market. Hence, Mandiant argues that similar operations could be deployed in the future when Beijing deems a certain policy of strategic importance.