China Exporting Authoritarianism: Report Finds Global Influence on the Rise

The debate around whether Beijing is actively exporting its authoritarian system abroad has been ongoing for years. However, a new report released by the Atlantic Council sheds light on China’s efforts to spread its model to other countries.

Based on 1,691 files from China’s Commerce Ministry logged online in 2021 and 2022, the report describes 795 governmental programs aimed at promoting China’s economic and political ideas and practices in countries across Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. These programs include trainings and exchanges with foreign officials designed to showcase the merits of China’s authoritarian system.

The Chinese Communist Party’s model, characterized by single-party authoritarian rule and state capitalist economic policies, has been successful in driving China’s economic growth. By promoting this model to other countries, China aims to cultivate an authoritarian-friendly bloc that can help counter Western influence and criticism.

The report details training programs covering various areas such as trade, technology, and infrastructure development. Additionally, exchanges on issues like ethnic integration and media management are also highlighted. These programs are often set up through bilateral agreements or multilateral regional organizations.

One key aspect highlighted in the report is the intelligence-collection dimension of these programs. By requiring participants to submit reports on their engagements with other countries, China aims to gather valuable data on foreign officials while assessing their openness to Chinese policies.

While programs and exchanges with foreign governments have existed for decades under the International Liaison Department, recent years have seen an expansion of such efforts across different government ministries. Despite the growing number of these programs, the report suggests that the full impact of China’s model exportation efforts is yet to be realized.

Ultimately, the report sheds light on Beijing’s ambitions to export aspects of its political model overseas. While the extent of this influence remains to be seen, the increasing number of programs involving officials from the Global South indicates a significant outreach effort by China.



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