False: This video does not show Uyghur children “being sold” by Chinese traffickers

Katherine Cheng
Nov 6 · 4 min read
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By Katherine Cheng and Jerome Lizambard

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.

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A screenshot of the tweet with a video showing a young girl’s features being inspected, with audio of two men bargaining.

The video has gathered over 111,000 views, with the post retweeted 2,000 times. The same claim can also be seen here.

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.

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Screenshots of a tweet and Douyin account, where the original audio of the video can be found.

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.

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A screenshot of the 2188 Douyin videos that have all used the same audio can be found here.

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.

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A screenshot of a tweet that identifies the Douyin account of the girl featured in the video.

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.

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Top: The original video with the girl featuring a logo and a colourful background. Bottom: Screenshots of advertisement videos of the modelling agency, which featured the agency’s office. The background matches with that of the original video, which features a blue and yellow wall as well as a white shelf with trophies. The name of the company has been blurred for privacy reasons.

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.

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Screenshots of the Douyin account featuring the girl and her father. Personal details have been blurred to protect the identities of those involved.

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.

Disclaimer: This is a student work. Although faculty members at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong have done everything possible to verify its accuracy, we cannot guarantee there are no mistakes. If you notice an error or have any questions, please email us at contact@annieasia.org.

Katherine Cheng

Written by

Katherine is a documentary photographer from Canada and a current student of the Master of Journalism programme at the University of Hong Kong.

annie lab

annie lab

Fact-checking project @ Journalism & Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with Asian Network of News & Information Educators (ANNIE).

Katherine Cheng

Written by

Katherine is a documentary photographer from Canada and a current student of the Master of Journalism programme at the University of Hong Kong.

annie lab

annie lab

Fact-checking project @ Journalism & Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with Asian Network of News & Information Educators (ANNIE).

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