The Jamestown Foundation, a US think tank, reported last month that China’s Ministry of State Security has been attempting to coopt influential voices in media and academia in the Czech Republic to serve as proxies for China’s government. These efforts have involved former agents of communist-era Czechoslovakia’s now defunct intelligence service. According to the Jamestown Foundation report:
December 3, 2021 New revelations on the laundering of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda through local actors in the Czech Republic point to an underresearched aspect of influence operations. The CCP’s tactic of “borrowing a boat to go out to sea” (借船出海, jie chuan chu hai), i.e., coopting local media outlets to serve as proxies, has long been known to involve organs in the party’s propaganda system. Further scrutiny of laundered propaganda operations now indicates the Ministry of State Security’s (MSS, 国家安全部, Guojia Anquan Bu) role in efforts to coopt influential voices in media and academia abroad. In the Czech Republic, these operations involve former collaborators of the MSS’s defunct Czechoslovak equivalent, a nexus that suggests the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) intelligence apparatus is reactivating elements from communist-era security agencies. Two influence operations that have recently come to light in the Czech Republic, one targeting the media, and the other academia, shed new light on the links between the PRC’s security services and its external propaganda efforts.
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The report notes that Literární noviny, a well-known Czech newspaper, has been gradually turned into a pro-China platform under the leadership of the former presidential spokesperson Miroslav Pavel in 2009. Under Pavel, the newspaper entered into a partnership with the Chinese government-controlled newspaper Guangming Ribao to print articles produced by the paper, According to now publicly available intelligence files, during the 1970s. Pavel worked for Czechoslovak State Security (Statní bezpečnost, StB), the communist regime’s secret police,
The report also highlights what iftcalls’ propaganda-laundering’ activities of Czech academic Marek Hrubec, who has repeatedly published pro-China op-eds in Chinese government-controlled media outlets who was recently removed from the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) over his links to Chinese intelligence agents.