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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

    Intersting read. It's not a new topic but it is good to see China's strategy towards Europe being monitored and brought to wider public attention.


    In the media:

  • #2
    Russia : been there, done that : )

    The Germans & French seem up to speed. Public education makes people aware

    The Brits are a little more relaxed about it

    But if ASEAN serves as an example it only requires one member to refuse China critical lines in a joint statement

    Look at the more vulnerable EU members. The bigger ones can handle it.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 18 Feb 18,, 17:54.


    • #3
      Similar things are going in America too.

      - - - -

      Chinese Government Gave Money to Georgetown Chinese Student Group
      Growing party influence on campuses nationwide has cast a pall over academic freedom.

      Founded in the early 2000s, the Georgetown University Chinese Students and Scholars Association hosts an annual Chinese New Year gala, organizes occasional academic forums, and helps Chinese students on campus meet and support each other. The group has also accepted funding from the Chinese government amounting to roughly half its total annual budget, according to documents and emails obtained by Foreign Policy.

      The total sum may not be large, but the documents confirm a link between the Chinese government and Chinese student organizations on American campuses that is often suspected but difficult to verify.

      A budget request submitted by the Georgetown University CSSA to the school’s graduate student government in September 2011 disclosed that the group received $800 each semester that school year from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. The group requested an additional $750 each semester from the university on top of the money it received from the embassy.

      The disclosure of Chinese government funding came after a question on the budget request form asking if the club received any outside sources of funding. The group said that the government funding was used to host events, such as the annual Chinese New Year party.

      The funding has not been previously made public; copies of the documents were provided to FP by a source concerned about Chinese Communist Party influence on university campuses.

      The FBI shares that concern. Yesterday, at an annual open hearing at the Senate intelligence committee, in response to a question about the national security risk posted by Chinese international students, FBI Director Chris Wray said, “The use of nontraditional collectors, especially in the academic setting — whether it’s professors, scientists, students — we see in almost every field office that the FBI has around the country.”

      Chinese Students and Scholars Associations first appeared in the United States in the 1980s, as international students from China began attending American universities. Now Chinese students, numbering close to 330,000, comprise the largest group of international students in the United States. There are now around 150 CSSA branches in the United States, and many more around the world; the organizations share a name but no central organization or headquarters. Other Chinese student organizations do exist — the Chinese Student Association at the University of California, Berkeley, for example, was founded in 1951 and is independent — but most have been overshadowed by the proliferation of CSSAs.

      The primary function of CSSAs is to help Chinese students adjust to life in a foreign country, to bring Chinese students together on campus, and to showcase Chinese culture. The groups typically host events such as annual galas, holiday celebrations, and academic forums.

      But they also serve as a way for the Chinese government to maintain a close eye on Chinese students abroad, according to those familiar with their activities.

      “It’s a deliberate strategy to make sure that the Chinese students and scholars living abroad don’t become a problem,” said Anne-Marie Brady, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, which published Brady’s report last year detailing Chinese Communist Party influence in New Zealand, including the CSSAs at major universities there.

      A former Chinese Ministry of State Security official, Li Fengzhi, who later defected to the United States, said that the Chinese government views CSSAs as a means to conduct “information collection” and propaganda.

      The Georgetown CSSA did not respond to multiple emailed requests for comment.

      “CSSAs are non-profit associations, whose members are students volunteered to provide help to their fellow Chinese students and scholars at the host university,” a Chinese Embassy spokesperson wrote in an email, when asked if the Chinese Embassy continues to provide the CSSAs at Georgetown or other area colleges with funds. “In order to organize such activities, they need to raise funds from the public, such as their host universities, companies, organizations and the Chinese embassy.”

      The spokesperson did not provide an answer when asked if the Chinese Embassy ever gives CSSAs political directives.

      Georgetown University did not respond to a request for comment.

      No other Georgetown University graduate student group included in the 2011-2012 funding request report received money from a foreign government, according to the documents reviewed by FP.

      Under President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party has vastly expanded its campaign to surveil and control overseas Chinese, including international students. In 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Education issued a directive to Chinese students abroad, urging them to follow the party. The directive also provided instructions to “build a multidimensional contact network linking home and abroad — the motherland, embassies and consulates, overseas student groups, and the broad number of students abroad — so that they fully feel that the motherland cares.”

      Amid this campaign, it has become increasingly risky for Chinese students abroad to criticize Chinese government policies, even within the privacy of the classroom. One Australian professor told Inside Higher Ed in January that on two separate occasions, Chinese students have told him that comments they made during his class were reported to authorities back in China — indicating that another student in the class had relayed that information.

      Wang Dan, a professor of contemporary Chinese history and a participant in the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, has noted that Chinese students rarely speak up in discussion salons he holds in the United States — but that party sympathizers will show up to take photos and recordings of who attends and what is said at such events. In a 2017 New York Times op-ed, Wang called it a “campaign of fear and intimidation.”

      Chinese students themselves have also challenged academic freedom at American universities with growing frequency. Chinese student organizations are often directly involved in these efforts, mobilizing their members to express anger at speech that goes the against Chinese Communist Party line.

      For example, in February 2017, the University of California, San Diego, announced that the commencement speaker that June would be the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader whom the Chinese Communist Party considers a dangerous separatist. The UC San Diego CSSA soon posted a response on Facebook expressing strong opposition to the invitation — and saying that they had consulted with the Chinese Consulate on the matter. The CSSA asked to meet with university administration and demanded that the Dalai Lama’s speech exclude any political content.

      The UC San Diego administration allowed the Tibetan leader’s speech to proceed uninhibited.

      In May 2017, Yang Shuping, an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, praised American democracy in a commencement address, saying that she enjoyed America’s “fresh air of free speech” compared to the repressive environment back in China. Her remarks went viral on the Chinese internet, and she faced a massive online backlash, including the posting of her family’s home address in China.

      The University of Maryland CSSA created a video directly criticizing Yang’s remarks and calling them “rumor.” Zhu Lihan, a former president of the association, told a Chinese newspaper, “Insulting the motherland to grab attention is intolerable. The university’s support for such slandering speech is not only ill-considered, but also raises suspicion about other motives.”

      Yang later apologized for her remarks.


      • #4
        Chinese money in the US education system isn't a problem. It is a bigger problem in smaller countries. Think Australia & UK

        There are close to half a million chinese students in Australian universities. If as a result of a change in Australian policy, the CCP deems no more students will go to Australia ?

        Costs of education will rise for the locals and taxes will go up. Same with UK

        I think Panda clubs have been going on for ages, just more publicity these days. Way i see it is these associations are to keep young people in touch with home when they go abroad and not go astray and learn the wrong things. When they return they fit in and not start any trouble for the CCP

        Such a waste, what is the point of hanging out with your own kind when you are abroad ? you will never learn about other cultures if your head is still in China but live abroad.

        So then what is the need for these kids to go abroad, can't China offer incentives for universities to open branches in China itself like Qatar ?
        Last edited by Double Edge; 18 Feb 18,, 23:13.


        • #5
          Originally posted by 1980s View Post
          Wang Dan, a professor of contemporary Chinese history and a participant in the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, has noted that Chinese students rarely speak up in discussion salons he holds in the United States — but that party sympathizers will show up to take photos and recordings of who attends and what is said at such events. In a 2017 New York Times op-ed, Wang called it a “campaign of fear and intimidation.”
          I distinctly recall this the sheer fearfulness Chinese students had of discussing anything political while I was doing my political science undergraduate degree. Even in entirely private settings. The fear and intimidation they have follows them here.

          I showed the video to a Chinese guy once during the 2008 primaries - he was very shocked and uncomfortable even watching it. Completely unfathomable to him how this type of stuff could be permitted to exist.

          "Every man has his weakness. Mine was always just cigarettes."


          • #6
            party sympathizers will show up to take photos and recordings of who attends and what is said at such events.
            Forget facebook, this is how its done


            • #7
              Originally posted by 1980s View Post
              Intersting read. It's not a new topic but it is good to see China's strategy towards Europe being monitored and brought to wider public attention.

              I’m not familiar with the with the source, and in this era that’s the first thing to check. The Global Public Policy Institute seems legit, but there is not one China scholar among the authors of this piece. Indeed, GPPI only has one China scholar (University of Macau’s (!?) Chen Dingding) on its advisory board.

              China promotes “its authoritarian ideals”? Really? Evidence, please.

              Yes, China is authoritarian. Yes, China promotes its own world view (doesn't Germany?). Yes, China is nationalistic (isn't France?). But, that does not equate to promoting “authoritarian ideals” any more than Vladimir Putin’s interference in the US election or Ukraine’s sovereignty does.

              Europe is wide open, but “China seeks to tightly restrict access of foreign ideas, actors and capital.” Well, that’s a bit of an overstatement. Ask a Tsinghua-MIT Global MBA student how closely China restricts access to foreign ideas. Ask Proctor and Gamble how closely China restricts foreign actors. Ask any businessman in Hong Kong or Taiwan how closely China regulates foreign capital. One might be generous and suggest that the authors meant to say, “China tries but is highly unsuccessful at restricting access to foreign ideas, actors and capital.” But, the rest of the article doesn't warrent generosity.

              “EU unity has suffered from Chinese divide and rule tactics, especially where the protection and projection of liberal values and human rights are concerned.” Hmm. That suggests that EU unity would be peachy keen if not for those nasty Chinese … an idea with which I, for one and Mrs May for another, disagree (for very different reasons). Yes, the EU is less unified than in the past. No, it isn’t because of China.

              Shockingly, not everything that happens is China’s fault.

              “Beijing also benefits from the ‘services’ of willing enablers among European political and professional classes who are happy to promote Chinese values and interests.” As does every Western nation present in China. It’s called lobbying, and it was perfected in the West long before Deng Xiaoping dismantled Maoism. cf "American/European/Japanese Chamber of Commerce in ...[country of your choice]"

              “The Chinese leadership’s political influence-seeking in Europe is driven by two interlocking motivations. First and foremost, it seeks to secure regime stability at home. Second, Beijing aims to present its political concepts as a competitive, and ultimately superior, political and economic model.”

              Well, the first is universal; the second, however, is false. China doesn’t really care all that much if other countries follow its path to stability and prosperity (with the notable exception of North Korea, where it has very strongly advocated the China Model). They haven't been evangelical since the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. cf LDS of Utah.

              The subsequent three policy goals are indistinguishable from any International Relations 101 textbook definition of national interests.

              What to do, oh, oh, what to do?

              “If Europe intends to stop the momentum of Chinese influencing efforts, it needs to act swiftly and decisively.” Note the absence of any argument as to why – aside from simple international relations theory and national interests concepts – Europe should be trying to stop “the momentum of Chinese influencing efforts.” Without that justification, the argument looks like it is striving to put China back into its isolationist past, which would be a Very Bad Idea.

              “In responding to China’s advance, European governments need to make sure that the liberal DNA of their countries’ political and economic systems stay intact.” Actually, this is a Very Good Idea, once you drop the first clause. Europe doesn’t need China as a bogeyman.

              “Some restrictions will be necessary, but Europe should not copy China’s illiberalism.” Ugh. For the good of the Fatherland, some personal liberties must be sacrificed.

              If the authors think the world would be a better place without China they should make that argument. Instead, they seek to blame China for looking out for its own interests -- exactly as other countries do -- and being good at it.
              Trust me?
              I'm an economist!