An investigative report by The New York Times has unveiled a complex network of Chinese propaganda activities orchestrated by tech mogul Neville Roy Singham. The probe revealed that Singham, who also funded the Delhi-based news website NewsClick, played a significant role in disseminating Chinese propaganda globally through various non-profit organizations.
In 2021, an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate revealed that media portal NewsClick had received funds worth Rs 38 crore from abroad, with authorities tracing the money trail to American millionaire Singham, reported PTI.
According to the report, Neville Roy Singham initially established ThoughtWorks, a prominent global technology consultancy, in the late 1980s and made a fortune working with some of the biggest corporations in the world. ThoughtWorks quickly became one of the leading IT consulting companies and Foreign Policy Magazine named Singham one of the ‘Top 50 Global Thinkers’ in 2009.
Today, ThoughtWorks’ client list (as per its website) includes companies ranging from Australian airline Qantas and German pharma giant Bayer to news agency Thomson Reuters, retail giant Walmart and India’s Axis Bank. Singham sold the company to a private equity firm in 2017, for a reported sum of well over $785 million.
The core strength of Singham’s network lies in American non-profit groups, intricately linked through charities and shell companies. Some of these groups, like No Cold War, lack legal existence but maintain connections to Singham’s network through domain registration and shared organizers. Leveraging the legal framework of US non-profits, Singham operates discreetly while exerting significant influence over these organizations, some of which are led by his wife and former ThoughtWorks employees.
Singham’s collectives have produced impactful YouTube videos that have garnered millions of views. Their efforts extend to real-world political involvement, including interactions with congressional aides, political training in Africa, participation in South African elections, and orchestrating demonstrations.
The outcome is the emergence of numerous left-leaning groups that echo Chinese government narratives, echoing each other’s viewpoints and finding resonance in Chinese state media.
Singham, currently based in Shanghai, openly supports the Chinese Communist Party. He reportedly joined a Communist Party workshop focused on international promotion. While Singham denies direct links to the party, his actions have raised suspicions about his ties to China’s propaganda efforts.
Furthermore, Singham shares office space in Shanghai with the Maku Group, an organization dedicated to educating foreigners about China’s achievements. He has also contributed almost $1.8 million in funding to the group.
Singham did not offer substantive answers to any publications about the allegations. “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,” NYT quoted him as saying.