Is the viral video of a giant sandstorm in China real?

2022 has brought with it some of the most incredible and terrifying weather events, including tornadoes, wildfires, and volcanic eruptions.

Evidence suggests that these events will increase in frequency unless drastic efforts are made to slow the effects of climate change.

Reports of weather events and phenomena are often accompanied by fabricated or falsely labeled visual content. Newsweek Fact Check has investigated whether these latest images of what appears to be a colossal sandstorm were genuine and filmed in China.

Social media posts captured a huge sandstorm rolling through what appeared to be highways and cities across China. Pictured are people crossing a road during a sandstorm in Beijing on March 15, 2021.
Greg Baker/Getty


A number of tweets posted in July 2022 depict a sandstorm stretching across the sky across a desert landscape, heading towards motorists caught in its path.


The videos on Twitter are particularly dramatic and appear real although some contain dramatic sound effects and other editing, increasing the likelihood that the images have been manipulated.

Newsweek’s The fact-checking team has previously investigated several instances of edited footage or photographs taken out of context or altered to mislead.

To try to find out where the images come from, Newsweek used a combination of photo technology, which can detect and copy text from a photo, and translation software.

Translating “sandstorm” into simplified Chinese and searching using that term on Twitter revealed that at least one of the videos came from a TikTok account with more search text.

This led to Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, where we found several posts about the storm. Again, many of them have been heavily edited with loud music, sound effects, and visual filters.

However, among these was a post from July 22, 2022, with unedited footage of a storm with the caption (translated) “It’s the last minute after being covered by a sandstorm”. This included a hashtag “#实拍青海沙尘暴” which roughly translates to “Real Qinghai sandstorm blow”.

Searching for this hashtag via Google revealed dozens of other articles and videos about the storms, suggesting they took place on July 20, 2022 in the Mongolian-Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Haixi, Qinghai province. This account has been corroborated by articles from the South China Morning Post and the CCTV Video News Agency.

This appears to confirm that footage of a recent sandstorm in China is authentic, as captured on Twitter and elsewhere. Although not all images have been verified, the authenticity of the content Newsweek assessed strongly supports this conclusion.

Verifying the authenticity of videos and claims from China is not always easy. Footage released earlier this month, which showed tanks parading through city streets, has been misinterpreted as an attempt by the military to protect a series of banks linked to a major financial scandal.

However, digging through photos and translating claims on Western and Chinese social media sites revealed that it was most likely a military exercise.


Fact Check - True


Using a combination of social media, photography and translation tools, we can say with some confidence that a sandstorm was filmed in China’s Qinghai province. Although some of the footage of the storm, edited to include sound effects and visual filters, was difficult to distinguish as genuine, there was enough evidence available on Chinese social media and elsewhere to corroborate that the storm had indeed taken its toll. venue.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Checking Team

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