Head of Policy and Research Jessica Brandt spoke to Vox’s Alex Ward about China’s information manipulation tactics.

China has a new weapon in its global information warfare arsenal: “wolf warriors.”

Named after a popular Chinese nationalistic film franchise, “wolf warriors” are official government diplomats whose duties go beyond the traditional diplomatic functions of closed-door negotiating and hosting fancy embassy soirees — and into the cutthroat world of Twitter.

Armed with 280 characters and access to a platform that has millions of users worldwide but is blocked for most people in China, they fiercely defend China against its foreign critics, ruthlessly taunt countries and leaders who have displeased the Chinese government, and shamelessly spread misinformation that serves Beijing’s interests.

In other words, they’re professional diplomatic trolls.

And oftentimes their efforts have consequences that go far beyond social media and leap into the real world.