Authoritarian Advance: Responding to China's Growing Political Influence in Europe

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Authoritarian Advance: Responding to China's Growing Political Influence in Europe

By Thorsten Benner, Jan Gaspers, Mareike Ohlberg, Lucrezia Poggetti, and Kristin Shi-Kupfer.
Global Public Policy Institute and Mercator Institute for China Studies, 2018
53 pp.

This pathbreaking report investigates the ways in which China seeks to shape politics and public opinion in Europe. The Chinese Communist Party uses governmental and ostensibly private wealth in overt and covert ways to influence political and economic elites, the media and public opinion, and civil society and academia. Some European states have begun to adopt a stance of “preemptive obedience” to Chinese interests on issues such as human rights. The authors name some of China’s “willing enablers,” including former British Prime Minister David Cameron, who took a post with a Chinese-sponsored infrastructure investment fund after leaving office, and former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who accepted a role in a Chinese cultural-exchange foundation. To protect the integrity of Western systems without violating their character as liberal democracies, the report recommends screening Chinese investments, banning foreign support for political parties, providing help to poorer EU members that are vulnerable to Chinese financial pressure, and promoting transparency for universities, media organizations, and politicians that accept Chinese support. The report also covers similar patterns in Australia and New Zealand, where Chinese influence efforts are even more advanced, and in the United States, where they are expanding rapidly.

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