Boosting the Party’s voice

Over the last several months, I have found the Mercator Institute of China Studies a great resource for China related stuff. I am pasting below some extracts from their Monitor dated 21 July 2016 (No. 34) titled, ‘Boosting the Party’s voice: China’s quest for global ideological dominance’.

In the medium to long term, the goal is to present China’s party-led political and economic model as an alternative to Western systems so as to create an international
echo chamber for the CCP’s messages.

In the absence of a major shift in the Chinese leadership, this increasingly sophisticated ideological offensive will expand and impact the academic and media landscape outside of China‘s borders.

Almost four years into Xi Jinping’s tenure, it is clear that the CCP sees strict control over ideology – understood as a system of ideas and values – as one of the core pillars of
its rule.

In order to further refine these core ideas, the CCP is presently sponsoring academic research to generate and spread a broad range of theories and ideas to counter Western concepts in virtually all areas of society and governance, including Chinese theories on “democracy”, economic governance, internet governance, or jounalism standards.

Although the principal focus is on developing a Chinese counter-ideology, launching attacks on Western ideas and systems of governance also plays an important role in the CCP’s strategy. The Party first saw an opening to systematically attack Western political and economic systems in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008 and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that followed suit.

This means that from the CCP’s point of view, the next generation of leaders is at risk
of being “won over” by the West, necessitating a systematic discrediting.

A video called How Leaders are Made, produced by the private sector with CCP backing, does this quite skillfully by comparing the roads to becoming the country’s top leader
in the US, the UK, and in China. While the Chinese system is presented as a meritocracy in which leaders are trained and tested over decades, the presentation of US elections focuses
mainly on the need to raise money to become president.

China tries to make inroads in these countries by offering seminars for government
officials and journalists. In these programs, the Chinese organizers stress that the imposition of Western values and norms as well as the West’s dominance of global conversations is not only a problem for China, but for all developing nations.

At the 2015 meeting, Liu Yunshan, the Politburo Standing Committee member in charge of propaganda and ideology, asked participating media to create “positive energy” for the OBOR initiative.

In order to win over foreign academics and to spread its ideas among the next generation of leaders abroad, the CCP has provided large amounts of funding and opportunities for
cooperation.

The most prominent case was a donation made to Cambridge University in 2014 for a chair of “Chinese Development Studies” which could be linked back to the daughter
of former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg: countless universities and think tanks across the EU rely heavily on Chinese money.

Of course, Chinese private companies have their own agenda when investing abroad, but from the CCP’s perspective they are an important asset in the Party’s quest to amplify China’s voice.

Most importantly, attempts to pacify China by adopting its official rhetoric, by making concessions, or by shunning groups and individuals the CCP dislikes will accomplish little to nothing. Instead, if Western countries define red lines and stick to them, it becomes much harder for the CCP to shape global opinions.

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