French media reported last month on a detailed study of China’s worldwide influence operations published by the Strategic Research Institute of France’s renowned Military College (IRSEM). According to the IRSEM study, China has long wanted to project a positive image of itself around the world but has in recent years shown a more aggressive side:
September 22, 2021 In a vast and detailed report, the Strategic Research Institute of France’s renowned Military College (Irsem) describes how “Machiavellic” China has built a tentacular network to exert its influence worldwide. The 650-page report, entitled “Chinese influence operations — a Machiavelli moment” digs through the layers of secret and not-so-secret institutions, actions and designs used by Beijing to manipulate western opinion. Written by Paul Cheron, an intelligence expert and Chinese specialist with credentials from Harvard and China’s most prestigeous university Qinghua, in partnership with political scientist Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, a security specialist, the report is probably the most extensive analysis of China’s propaganda machine ever published in French.
The report argues that for a long time China wanted more to be loved than feared, she wanted to seduce, projecting a positive image of herself in the world and so arousing admiration. Recently China has increasingly shown another side. “Its influence operations have hardened considerably in recent years and its methods increasingly resemble those employed by Moscow,” according to the report. Quoting Machiavelli’s The Prince, the authors say that China today thinks that “it is safer to be feared than to be loved”. The report meticulously maps out China’s means of exerting influence abroad, from “most benign (public diplomacy) to the most malignant, (clandestine activities),” including attempt to agressively manipulate public opinion abroad through think-tanks, “Confucius Insitutions” and media.
Read the rest here.
The full 650-page report can be accessed here.