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Chinese Influence Operations In Italy

November 25th, 2021 16:21

Sin­po­sis, a Czech web­site cov­er­ing Chi­nese for­eign pol­i­cy, has pub­lished a detailed report exam­in­ing Chi­nese efforts to shape pol­i­cy and pub­lic opin­ion by influ­enc­ing elite fig­ures across Italy’s polit­i­cal spec­trum. Accord­ing to the Sinop­sis report:

Novem­ber 20, 2021 Recent con­tro­ver­sy on the overt align­ment of some senior Ital­ian politi­cians with Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty (CCP) talk­ing points has attract­ed over­due atten­tion, yet failed to expose the broad­er phe­nom­e­non behind it: the party’s cen­tral­ly-guid­ed efforts to shape pol­i­cy and pub­lic opin­ion by influ­enc­ing élite fig­ures across Italy’s polit­i­cal spec­trum, an instance of its glob­al influ­ence work. This paper pro­vides the first overview of the Ital­ian activ­i­ty of exter­nal influ­ence agen­cies across the sys­tems that com­pose the CCP-led appa­ra­tus, includ­ing three case stud­ies that illus­trate mul­ti-sys­tem oper­a­tions tar­get­ing Ital­ian pol­i­tics from the nation­al to the munic­i­pal lev­el. The CCP Inter­na­tion­al Liai­son Depart­ment (ILD), the Chi­nese Asso­ci­a­tion for Friend­ship with For­eign Coun­tries (CPAFFC), the Chi­na Coun­cil for the Pro­mo­tion of Inter­na­tion­al Trade (CCPIT), as well as units in the party’s pro­pa­gan­da and unit­ed front sys­tems and fronts linked to intel­li­gence agen­cies, the cas­es show, are key actors in efforts to coopt par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, polit­i­cal par­ties, local offi­cials and main­stream voic­es in think tanks and the media. Using politi­cians, lob­by­ists and oth­er local inter­me­di­aries as prox­ies, these oper­a­tions repur­pose demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions as instru­ments of CCP pol­i­cy. Vague appeals to ‘friend­ship’, ‘cul­ture’ and trade help enlist main­stream, often CCP-crit­i­cal fig­ures as unwit­ting endorsers of a dis­course-engi­neer­ing endeav­our: the instal­la­tion of pro­pa­gan­da memes that nor­malise the CCP’s total­i­tar­i­an rule and glob­al expan­sion. Sur­ren­der­ing pol­i­cy-mak­ing cre­ativ­i­ty to this new com­mon sense, par­lia­men­tary cir­cles have relayed pro­pa­gan­da white­wash­ing the party’s human rights abus­es, while local gov­ern­ments joined a ‘Belt and Road’-themed net­work set up by a CCP influ­ence agency.

Read the full report here.

The Sinop­sis report iden­ti­fies the fol­low­ing orga­ni­za­tions and com­pa­nies as Chi­nese influ­ence orga­ni­za­tions in Italy:

Accord­ing to the report, China’s com­mu­nist par­ty uses these influ­ence orga­ni­za­tions to influ­ence Ital­ian pol­i­tics across ide­o­log­i­cal divides and at the nation­al, region­al, provin­cial, and munic­i­pal lev­els, large­ly evad­ing the pub­lic atten­tion that accom­pa­nied dis­plays of CCP-align­ment by a few high-pro­file figures.