China Uses ‘Friendship Associations’ to Extend Influence Among Overseas Elites: Report

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas shake hands after a joint press conference after talks at the German Foreign Ministry's Villa Borsig in North Berlin, Feb. 13, 2020.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas shake hands after a joint press conference after talks at the German Foreign Ministry’s Villa Borsig in North Berlin, Feb. 13, 2020. AFP

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is “co-opting” foreign nationals via friendship associations to expand its overseas influence in Europe, amid growing concerns over Beijing’s intensive lobbying and propaganda campaigns far beyond its borders, according to a recent report.

An Aug. 4 report published by the Washington-based think-tank, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), said Beijing uses foreign nationals in a number of ways to promote its views in the corridors of power overseas.

“This study finds that the coopted foreigners, who enjoy influence, convening power, and connections, serve the CCP’s aims in several ways, subtle and otherwise,” the report said.

Such people “parrot the party’s talking points, deflect narratives harmful to Beijing’s image, host public events that showcase the party’s virtues, promote trade and investment, encourage technology transfers, and voice support for changes in European policies favorable to China,” it said, citing case studies of the EU-China Friendship Group, the ItalyChina Friendship Association, and the Czech-China Chamber of Collaboration.

Full story: https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/friendship-influence-08062020085635.html

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