Chinese media reported last month that China hosted the 9th World Forum on China Studies in October. The conference brought together over 150 scholars and opinion leaders from around the world to discuss the “political, economic, social, cultural and international significance” of China’s Communist Party (CCP). According to a China Daily report:
October 12, 2021 The 9th World Forum on China Studies will take place in Shanghai from Oct 18 to 19, according to the forum’s news briefing on Monday. Themed “The Communist Party of China, China and the World”, the forum will be attended by more than 150 scholars and opinion leaders from various fields around the world. Participants will discuss about the history of the CPC and its political, economic, social, cultural and international significance to China and the world. The forum consist of a plenary session, five parallel panels, and five sideline events. Renowned international scholars and experts will give speeches on topics such as China’s path to modernization, global governance, the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan, and global economic recovery. The parallel panels are hosted by top Chinese think tanks, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
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According to the report, the forum was funded by the State Council Information Office, the Chinese government’s foreign propaganda arm. The academic conference is the latest example of China’s soft power efforts to co-opt the academic discourse on China and the Chinese Communist Party when academic freedom in the country is already in decline.
Some of the international academics and decision-makers invited to the conference were subsequently used to promote China’s political and economic model to local and foreign audiences. Chinese media reported later that month that former Serbian President Boris Tadić had given the opening speech at the conference in which he praised the Chinese model of “modernization”:
October 19, 2021 Boris Tadic, former president of Serbia, made a video speech to the forum, pointing out the importance of understanding the modernization of China through a new paradigm different from traditional Western thinking. “China today is actually delivering the original and innovative overcoming of the mistakes and consequences of the Western type of modernization,” he said. “China is changing the very nature of modernization, creating its own original way for thriving in the contemporary world. The way has been creating, not competing.”
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In turn, the Chinese government’s global media network reported widely on Tadić’s participation in the conference and amplified his positive comments on China in various languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Romanian.
The GIOR reported earlier this week on a new study that concluded Serbia is the Eastern European country most susceptible to Russian and Chinese influence.