CHINA is engaging in an increasingly aggressive campaign to influence and shape perceptions about China held by American politicians, university scholars and students, as well as executives at major corporations, a new study has found.
Specifics of the campaign were detailed in the report, entitled Chinese Influence and American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance, released Thursday.
It examines eight sectors of American society that China’s government is attempting to influence — including the US Congress, local governments, universities and corporations.
One attempt to influence American outlook is the large amounts of money China’s government and individuals loyal to the Communist Party are investing in US universities.
“Often that money will come, not with any explicit prohibitions, but with implicit ones,” Orville Schell, co-chair of the working group that produced the report, said at a press conference.
“If you want to get more (money), don’t say this, don’t say that. In other words,” he says. As a result, China aims for “modulating and controlling what people say about it and how they view it.”
The American film industry was also a target and at risk of losing its independence, the report said. While films critical of the Chinese government were not unusual in Hollywood in the past, there has been a decrease as Chinese investment in the industry increases.
As an example, the report cites the Matt Damon movie The Martian, in which the American central character is saved by the Chinese government. The film was backed by Chinese money.
Researchers laid out the possible approaches the United States could use to combat Beijing’s campaign.
These include denying visas for Chinese journalists, paying governmental subsidies to American companies that suffer punitive action from the Chinese government, and calling on US think tanks not to host Chinese academics when Chinese institutions refuse to receive American scholars.
The campaign has ramped up under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the report from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the Asia Society’s Centre on US-China Relations, said.
Xi has worked to solidify his position at the top of the Communist Party, ending term limits and setting up an avenue for him to remain ruler for life.
The report comes as US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have in recent months imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of exports flowing between the world’s two biggest economies.