Voice of America reported that the latest organization announcement showed that the United Front Work Department will take over the function of the State Council Overseas Office, the National Ethnic Affairs Commission, and the State Administration for Religious Affairs. It is expected that Beijing will exercise tighter control over religion and ethnic issues and further carry out its efforts on exercising influence overseas. According to the article, in recent years, the United Front Work Department already strengthened its role. Some of its work has even had a direct impact on local elections in foreign countries. Such actions have raised alerts in the U.S., Australia, and in European countries. The article listed examples of China’s expansion in the area of overseas influence, including setting up communication channels with Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and other regions; including overseas student organizations as part of its work; using its Confucius Institutes to indoctrinate college campuses around the world with its ideology; and intending to influence election’s in Australia which then resulted in the Australian government coming up with measures to counter foreign country’s having an influence on its elections. It is unclear how much funding United Front Work Department will receive.
Source: Voice of America, March 21, 2018