Confucius Institutes, which are present on dozens of U.S. college campuses and at other foreign universities, carry the stated purpose of promoting Chinese language and culture. U.S. officials have singled out the institutes as propaganda centers that serve as an extension of China’s “soft power.” The Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing has changed its name to the “Ministry of Education Centre for Language Education and Cooperation.”
The well-funded influence operations abroad of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and state agents and the front organizations they support have significant success in three ways, according to Robert Sutter, a professor of practice of international affairs at George Washington University:
- mobilizing the Chinese diaspora in various countries;
- achieving success in so-called elite capture — winning over foreign dignitaries to work in support of Chinese objectives;
- and gaining influence with and control over media and journalism in a number of states.
Recent disclosures and investigations highlight unconventional Chinese government actions and levers of influence abroad that were heretofore disguised, hidden, denied, or otherwise neglected or unappreciated in foreign assessments of Beijing’s foreign relations, he adds, highlighting a range of practices used to exert what the National Endowment for Democracy calls China’s sharp power.
How does the Chinese Government engineer its victories around the world? How has this threat influenced different aspects of our societies? How does it seek to persuade our leaders, policymakers, and elites to take decisions in its interests? The Henry Jackson Society asks.
In the past year, influence and information operations — launched by the CCP — have been uncovered across the Free World. In this new era of increased great state completion, both recognising and combatting these operations will be critical to defending our sovereignty and democratic norms. At a forthcoming event, jointly organised by the Henry Jackson Society and the US Embassy, London, three people with personal experience of calling out CCP influence operations in the West will discuss how the Chinese Communist Party’s network of operations works in real life. RSVP
Former US Deputy National Intelligence Officer for East Asia and Senior Advisor at the International Republican Institute
Co-author of Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping the World
Director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society and former British diplomat in China