600 groups promote China’s influence operations in U.S.


Credit: ASPI

Several hundred groups are engaged in covert influence operations in the United States under the rubric of the Chinese Communist Party, according to a new analysis.

Thousands of Twitter and Facebook posts are part of a program of “cross-platform inauthentic activity, conducted by Chinese-speaking actors and broadly in alignment with the political goal of the People’s Republic of China to denigrate the standing of the U.S.”, says the International Cyber Policy Center of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The scope of alleged activities is enormous, involving social and business gatherings, extensive information campaigns and building political and economic ties that can be leveraged to Beijing’s gain, analyst Didi Kirsten Tatlow writes for the German Council on Foreign Relations:

Experts say the election-related activity is just a small part of a much larger and deeper campaign of influence and interference by China that’s been taking place over many years—and is a far more worrisome threat long-term. Interviews with some two dozen analysts, government officials and other U.S.-China specialists, as part of a four-month investigation by Newsweek, suggest there are myriad other ways in which the Communist Party of China (CPC) and other government-linked entities have been working, through multiple channels in the U.S. at the federal, state and local level, to foster conditions and connections that will further Beijing’s political and economic interests and ambitions. 

“The United Front is part of China’s foreign policy, part of China’s intelligence apparatus and runs interference,” says Anne-Marie Brady, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and author of Marketing Dictatorship (above). Tasks that it may be charged with include everything from making “friends” to outright espionage.

It is time for democracies like Germany to rise to the challenge and actively help democratic friends when they are bullied by China, as Canada recently was, analyst Peter Beyer writes for Internationale Politik Quarterly. 

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