The Epoch Times recently reported that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has funded many think tanks and institutions and adopted savvy lobbying tactics across Europe in order to promote its agenda. However, the Europe Union (EU) has been watching the CCP’s actions.
Chris Devonshire-Ellis, Chairman and Founding Partner of Dezan Shira and Associates, which advises foreign investors on Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), reported, “China has devoted a large number of resources to lobbying the EU and influential persons connected with it.” “It has mapped out the entire EU structure and, via Embassies, managed to piece together a concise map of who is connected to whom and who is likely to be able to further China’s business interests.”
Beijing has also built up its lobbying experience in its investment push into Africa. In 2015, China bid on and won the Budapest-Belgrade railway project from Hungry and Serbia. China was likely to run it in the same way it ran the BRI projects. The EU then intervened, “insisting that the tender be monitored and subject to controls and regulations imposed from Brussels.” The EU’s involvement made it hard for Beijing to run the project as it desired. Therefore, Beijing adjusted its strategy and put more effort into lobbying the EU so that it could get more and better policy support and a green light for its business and other activities.
Malgorzata Jakimow, assistant professor of East Asian Politics at Durham University and Secretary of the Center for Contemporary Chinese Studies (CCCS), said, “China’s think tank networks are huge. They have been recognized by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the predominant tool for soft power.”
A report that the lobbying watchdog, Corporate Europe, published in April noted, “Often, conferences and seminars held in Brussels with a China theme receive Chinese Government sponsorship.” The report also listed dozens of organizations and networks scattered throughout Europe that have substantial ties to China.
Charles Parton, a former British diplomat to China and a senior associate for the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a defense and security institute, said that many Chinese-born academics in the West are cautious about what they can say because the CCP has control over the lives of their relatives back in China and over whether they can visit or return to China. “It would be quite dangerous for these people, for their health, and for their careers, to do anything but talk the party line.” Parton said he could think of one particular person who is frequently called upon to comment on the radio and speak to the media, but what he says is always purely the CCP Propaganda Department’s message.
Source: The Epoch Times, October 16, 2019