March 12, 2021

How the United States can protect democracy from China and Russia

By David Shullman and Patrick Quirk

The administration has made bolstering democracy abroad a key foreign policy priority. President Biden has declared that the United States must ensure democracy prevails in this moment of resurgent authoritarianism fostered by China and Russia. The two countries with disinformation and interference campaigns undermine democracy all around the world. The United States needs to demonstrate the benefits of democracy, but also dedicate revitalized efforts to helping partner countries inoculate those political systems against the advance of illiberalism. This should involve tackling such threats to democracy from China and Russia.

Beijing and Moscow present distinct challenges and use different tactics to pursue their goals. But both contest democracy as the best model for governance and undermine its practice. China exploits and exacerbates governance holes in vulnerable countries, using corruption and a lack of transparency to conduct deals that undermine political trust. Russia has similar strategic corruption tactics to back its allies within countries and undermine actors with ties to the United States and Europe.

The United States needs to demonstrate the benefits of democracy, but also dedicate revitalized efforts to helping partner countries inoculate those political systems against the advance of illiberalism.

Both China and Russia often subvert this political process for democracy with their interference in elections and providing direct financial support to friendly autocrats. Russia interferes in elections across Europe while it exploits societal fissures in countries with democracy, and China injects its dark funding into political campaigns and does timely investments to bolster the fortunes of numerous autocratic regimes all over.

Read the full article from The Hill.

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