How to counter China’s sharp power? Ask Australia


This week’s Economist dedicated its cover story to the issue of China’s growing influence strategy, referencing the National Endowment for Democracy’s excellent report on Beijing’s “sharp power” strategies, notes Council on Foreign Relations analyst Joshua Kurlantzick, prompting him to suggest that democracies can learn from the Australian experience:

  • In part because Australia was one of the first countries to recognize the challenge of China’s expanding global influence campaign inside democracies—a recognition due in part to solid reporting by Australian media outlets—Canberra also is offering a template for addressing Beijing’s influence campaign. For one, Canberra moved relatively quickly to ban foreign donations to political parties and activist groups. …
  • Second, Australia has been and is strengthening its process for scrutinizing foreign investments in sectors that could have national security implications. This is a model that other states could study. …
  • Third, Australia’s politicians and university leaders appear increasingly aware of the challenge posed by growing funds from Beijing for cultural and educational programming at Australian universities, think tanks, and other institutions. Politicians and universities are engaging in a high degree of scrutiny, now, of China’s influence on campuses….RTWT

Xi’s team also has spent billions “to shape norms and attitudes in other countries, relying on the cultivation of relationships with individuals, educational and cultural institutions, and centers of policy influence,” Shanthi Kalathil, director at the NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, said at a recent CECC hearing. This complex network of liaisons falls under the domain of the United Front Work Department, a Communist Party agency driving the nation’s push for global soft power, CNBC adds.

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