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NATO Paper Identifies Chinese Influence Actors Abroad

July 11th, 2021 13:22

NATO’s Cen­tre of Excel­lence for Coun­ter­ing Hybrid Threats has pub­lished a study exam­in­ing China’s use of non-state actors (NSA) as state prox­ies, argu­ing that under Xi Jin­ping, the polit­i­cal con­trol of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty (CCP) has advanced in all non-state, non-par­ty orga­ni­za­tions. Accord­ing to the study:

June 2021 In addi­tion to vis­i­ble state pow­er, cor­po­ra­tions and civ­il soci­ety rep­re­sent an addi­tion­al pow­er dimen­sion for the Par­ty. While the lack of trans­paren­cy com­pli­cates the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of state proxy NSAs [non-state actors, ed.], dif­fer­ent enti­ties with­in the larg­er unit­ed front approach nonethe­less enable large-scale espi­onage, influ­ence oper­a­tions, and polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic coer­cion. Los­ing key tech­nol­o­gy to Chi­na through cor­po­rate takeovers or joint ven­tures risks increas­ing depen­den­cy on Chi­na. It also cre­ates vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties to polit­i­cal influ­ence and espi­onage, as Chi­nese com­pa­nies are required by law to coop­er­ate with Par­ty officials.

Read the full study here.

The study also pro­vides an overview and exam­ples of the main proxy non-state actors of the Chi­nese state that are active inter­na­tion­al­ly, list­ing unit­ed front-relat­ed actors, SOEs, GON­GOs, as well as media- and acad­e­mia-relat­ed actors and their activ­i­ties abroad. Accord­ing to the study, all actors and their activ­i­ties dis­cussed can be con­sid­ered part of the more wide-reach­ing unit­ed front work. Fol­low­ing Chi­nese influ­ence actors are identified:

  • State-con­trolled enterprises: 
    • Huawei
    • Export-Import Bank of China
    • Chi­na Devel­op­ment Bank
    • Indus­tri­al & Com­mer­cial Bank of China
    • Sino-sure
    • Skyri­zon Aviation
    • BGI Group
    • Chi­na Nation­al Fisheries
  • State-orga­nized NGOs: 
    • China’s Red Cross
  • Media:
    • Xin­hua
    • CGTN
    • Chi­na Radio
    • Chi­na Daily
    • The People’s Daily
    • Chi­na Cen­tral Television
    • Chi­na News Service
    • Glob­al Times
    • Asi­askop

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) has cov­ered Chi­nese influ­ence oper­a­tions abroad, including:

  • In July, we report­ed that the New York Times cov­ered a Chi­nese influ­ence oper­a­tion on YouTube, first exposed by a GIOR inves­ti­ga­tion in March.
  • In June, we rec­om­mend­ed a report on China’s for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tions in Canada.
  • In May, we report­ed that Chi­na had become the top spender on for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tions in the US, with Chi­nese for­eign agent spend­ing sky­rock­et­ing from just over $10 mil­lion in 2016 to near­ly $64 mil­lion in 2020.