ChinaJanuary 16 2023, 11:29 am

China’s Influence Operations Doing Poorly in Central and Eastern Europe

In an arti­cle titled “China’s Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Fall Flat in Cen­tral and East­ern Europe,” Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions schol­ar Joshua Kurlantz­ick argues that Chi­na has seen its soft pow­er in Cen­tral and East­ern Europe decline dur­ing the past three years. The fol­low­ing is a Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) sum­ma­ry of the article:

Bei­jing has increased its efforts to wield author­i­ty with­in oth­er coun­tries, includ­ing many lib­er­al democ­ra­cies, despite Chi­na’s pro­claimed non-inter­fer­ence for­eign pol­i­cy norm. This has been accom­plished through a vari­ety of meth­ods, such as for­mal diplo­ma­cy, pub­lic mes­sage, lever­ag­ing ties with local media, bla­tant bribery of offi­cials, eco­nom­ic aid, and coer­cion. Cen­tral and East­ern Europe (CEE) has been a promi­nent tar­get for Chi­na’s influ­ence oper­a­tions over the past decade. Bei­jing’s good rela­tions with sev­er­al CEE gov­ern­ments dat­ed back to the Cold War, and the major­i­ty of these nations had pre­vi­ous­ly tak­en a neu­tral stance on the devel­op­ing com­pe­ti­tion between the Unit­ed States and Chi­na. Bei­jing has nur­tured influ­en­tial politi­cians in the region, such as the prime min­is­ter of Hun­gary, Vik­tor Orban, and strength­ened links with region­al media through train­ing pro­grams for jour­nal­ists and con­tent-shar­ing agree­ments with Chi­nese state media. Euro­pean politi­cians have focused pri­mar­i­ly on rec­og­niz­ing and resist­ing Russ­ian influ­ence, as opposed to Chi­nese actions in CEE. Chi­na also poured mon­ey into build­ing infra­struc­ture in the region, par­tic­u­lar­ly vital telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment, for which sev­er­al CEE states have dis­re­gard­ed warn­ings from the Unit­ed States and oth­er democ­ra­cies not to use Chi­nese cor­po­ra­tions. There­fore, Bei­jing’s activ­i­ties have received con­sid­er­ably less atten­tion than Putin’s Rus­si­a’s.  Yet, in spite of these attempts to estab­lish links with region­al lead­ers and insti­tu­tions, Bei­jing has erod­ed its soft pow­er in Cen­tral and East­ern Europe dur­ing the past three years, result­ing in a dete­ri­o­ra­tion of rela­tions. Most notably, this is owing to Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s appar­ent back­ing for Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine, which has alien­at­ed the major­i­ty of CEE nations. Pri­or to the Russ­ian inva­sion, how­ev­er, atti­tudes toward Chi­na had already begun to turn sig­nif­i­cant­ly neg­a­tive in many Euro­pean nations, includ­ing the CEE.

Read the full arti­cle here (free reg­is­tra­tion required)

GIOR report­ed in August 2022 on a US Army study which found that Latin Amer­i­can views on Chi­na were becom­ing more neg­a­tive despite its lever­ag­ing of soft pow­er instruments.





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