On the margins of the 2018 United Nations General Assembly, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an explosive claim, alleging that China was engaging in a campaign to influence the outcome of U.S. elections as retribution for his prosecution of the trade war.
Although the Trump administration has yet to provide specific information to back up these accusations, Beijing’s aggressive overseas influence campaigns are well known among China watchers. Following recent scandals in Australia, Cambodia, and New Zealand, and growing reports of interference efforts in the United States, there is a strong set of circumstantial evidence giving credence to the president’s claims. However, circumstantial evidence is not enough. The American public needs a thorough and honest accounting of the scope and nature of China’s current influence operations—especially as they relate to the 2018 midterm elections.
Under President Xi Jinping’s leadership, the United Front—the Chinese Communist Party’s primary tool for shaping public influence—has become an increasingly important component of China’s toolkit. Relying on deceptive elements, such as masking organizations’ connections to the official Communist apparatus, the United Front perpetrates targeted, low-intensity information operations designed to shape influential individuals’ perceptions of the CCP’s goals and objectives. With a dual domestic and foreign mandate, the United Front supports civil society entities, such as the China Overseas Friendship Association, to increase the international profile of some of the CCP’s most pernicious goals.
Read the full article in Foreign Policy.