The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), a watchdog investigating corporate influence and EU lobbying, reported in 2019 that China operates a growing network of think tanks and lobbyists in Europe. According to the CEO report, titled “Follow the New Silk Road:
April 8, 2019 As China becomes an ever more potent player on the world stage, it is increasing its use of soft power and influencing tools in Europe. From funding think tanks and academic institutions, to courting officials via paid public affairs consultants and business associations, its lobbying seeks to create fertile ground for China-friendly policies.
Read the full report here.
The CEO report identifies the following lobby associations, think tanks, and consultancies as being funded, operated, or otherwise linked to the Chinese government:
- ChinaEU, a Brussels-based business lobby.
- Europe-China Forum, an annual meeting held by the corporate-sponsored Brussels think tank Friends of Europe.
- Silk Road Think Tank Network (SiLKS), a network of think tanks worldwide that promote China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Fondation France Chine, a Paris-based club gathering French and Chinese elite members (see our August report on the foundation).
- 16+1 Think Tank Network, an initiative that brings together 16 Central and Eastern European countries to build foreign support for the Belt and Road Initiative (now renamed to 17+1 Think Tank Network).
- Brussels Academy for China and European Studies, an academic platform funded by China.
- Lobby Communication Advisory, an Italian consultancy.
- Dezan Shira & Associates. a pan-Asian consultancy with offices in Europe.
- Cooperans, a French consultancy.
The report also notes technology and communications company Huawei’s role as a Chinese influence tool. According to the latest filings, Huawei spent at least three million Euros for lobbying efforts on the European level in 2019, employing at least 19 full-time lobbyists.