A tweet falsely claiming that “Chinese invaders are selling Uyghur children to each other and negotiating the price” circulated starting Oct.18, 2020.
In the accompanying video, a man seems to be inspecting the face of a smiling young girl, while audio can be heard of two men bargaining in Mandarin Chinese.
However, the claim is false. This video has been manipulated.
The audio is a truncated version of a Douyin video featuring two men bargaining over products being sold on the street, which has been added to an unrelated video of a young child model.
The same Douyin account has posted videos before known for comedic content.
Here is the transcript of the audio, translated into English:
“-And this one?
– It’s 187,000.
– It’s too expensive.
– If you like [it], we can negotiate the price. I’m willing to discuss, wanna buy?
– But if I make an offer I’m afraid you will beat me.
– Relax kid, be brave and tell your price.
– 20, sell?
– Since you dare talk out, I dare sell. Take it”
Some Twitter users suggested under the post that the audio might be taken from a viral Douyin video posted on Aug.17, 2020.
Two men can be heard bargaining on the street and the spoken words seem to match the lip movement of the man selling the products seen in the clip, suggesting the audio and video were recorded together.
Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) allows users to share the same audio for different videos. Annie Lab found 2,188 other clips with the same audio, showing that it’s a part of an online trend.
Through another comment in a retweet of the video, Annie Lab also found the Douyin account of the girl featured in the video, which is apparently managed by her father.
By searching through this Douyin account, we were able to find a video which shows a logo and a company name in the background. The logo matches the one seen on the girl’s shirt.
The logo and company name belonged to a child modelling agency in southern China. Through geolocation on Baidu and a search of the company’s profile, Annie Lab had identified the exact location of the office and the room shown in the video.
Her father’s Douyin account has posted many video clips featuring her everyday life, such as dancing or having a meal. Some videos show her on a runway or posing like a fashion model.
Under the profile description, it says “my family’s cute baby.” The most recent video of her was posted on Nov. 1, 2020, indicating that the girl is still with her father.
The Uyghurs are an ethnic minority group living mostly in Xinjiang, northwest China. Organizations have reported about human rights violations allegedly committed by the Chinese government against them; these include human trafficking, mass internment and cultural genocide.