Even more than his predecessors, Chinese President Xi Jinping has led a massive expansion of efforts to shape foreign public opinion in order to influence the decision-making of foreign governments and societies, notes analyst Anne-Marie Brady (left). A key concept in these efforts is the linking of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and state organizations through a strategic alliance tactic originally developed by Vladimir Lenin called the “united front.” During a September 2014 speech on the importance of united front work, Xi repeated Mao Zedong’s description of the United Front as one of the CCP’s “magic weapons.” With many such activities overseen by a secretive United Front Work Department, this approach can be used in shaping both domestic and foreign policy, she writes for the Power 3.0 blog, an initiative of the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies:
Established democratic governments around the world must now develop internally focused resilience strategies that will protect the integrity of democratic processes and institutions. Democracies can take measures to update current legislation on matters such as electoral financing, protocols around conflicts of interest for past and former members of central and local government, and sales of strategic infrastructure. Countries like New Zealand would benefit from working with other like-minded democracies such as Australia and Canada to address the challenge posed by foreign influence activities. Like-minded democratic nations should also enter discussions with one another on the implications of China’s One Belt, One Road policies and other aspects of Xi’s new foreign policy on global politics, economic independence, and the control of strategic assets.