China, Chinese Communist Party, Australia discussed on Power 3.0 | Authoritarian Resurgence, Democratic Resilience
Point. Oh is brought to you by the international form for democratic studies the idea center the national endowment for democracy. I'm your host christopher walker vice president for studies and analysis us at the endowment recording from our studio in washington d._c. And i'm your co host sean colossal senior director of neds international forum for democratic studies. We're really delighted delighted to be undertaking this new podcast series which is an effort to share with you our listeners the conversations we're having here at the endowments international forum with some of the world's leading analysts researchers and democracy activists on emerging trends that are impacting democratization shanty. Maybe you can explain to our listeners. How we came up with title for the podcast sure so a year ago we launched a blog under the same name power three point. Oh it focuses on how modern authoritarianism utilizes globalization in ways that few anticipated so for example authoritarians now take advantage of interconnected financial systems communication technologies like the internet international norms and institutions institutions and the relatively open arenas of global media academic exchange and culture so in some ways authoritarian illiberal regimes have leapfrog the capabilities of democracies thus power three point. Oh the irony is that a key characteristic democracies hold dear. Their openness is also vulnerability that a liberal actors exploiting. It's worth pointing out however that democracies have at their disposal their own unique features that make them both more flexible brazilian and we hope to explore through our power three-point three point conversations how democratic societies can leverage their own competitive advantage and response on that note. It's a great pleasure to introduce as our very first guest on the show someone who can always find a reason for optimism about prospects for democracy. He's co editor of the journal of democracy and senior fellow at stanford university's hoover institution and larry diamond. Welcome to the show larry. Thank you chris. Thank you shanty larry together with orville schell of the asia society center on u s china relations nations. You've organized a working group of china and foreign policy experts and just published a report titled chinese influence in american interests promoting constructive vigilance the report primarily delves into efforts by the chinese communist party to influence american institutions including state and local governments universities think tanks media corporations uh-huh and the chinese american community. I'd like to start by asking you to give a sense of why you felt. It was so important to organize this effort in democracy terms. What's at stake in the current earned environment. Well ultimately what's at stake is the future freedom in the world <hes>. I think that one of the most shocking aspects of our report is the revelation of how much freedom of expression freedom of information and freedom from fear and intimidation are being compromised promising-looking in the united states of america particularly among chinese americans the chinese american diaspora and among the chinese diaspora communities and other democracies most notably <hes> but certainly not exclusively <hes> australia new zealand by the massive <hes> relentless and increasingly sophisticated united united front and other influence activities of the chinese communist party <hes> and so if we can't even preserve the freedom freedom of our own people in our own country something very very grave has happened and something very profound is at stake in one of the places where this really was in view at the outset was in australia. I'm and i know that there were <hes> australia was kept in mind during the production of this this report maybe you can say a few words about how that informed the thinking for this effort well <hes> chris i think both australia and new zealand and have been kind of the canaries in the coal mine here in terms of western democratic consciousness of the risks and the steaks <hes> it isn't surprising that they would be first or earlier in the trajectory of deeper penetration because they're they're closer asserted china <hes> and <hes> so perhaps easier to penetrate australia new zealand heaven had the kinds of laws on foreign agents registration <hes> the we have in the united states under the so-called fara foreign agent registration act <hes> they hadn't until very very recently banned foreign contributions to their political campaigns and so one of the things that happened in australia was a scandal <hes> where a backbencher in the australian parliament was found herd revealed to to have given a speech <hes> in which he was basically reading from the chinese communist party line on the south china sea and basically saying hang us is reasonable. Australia should just accept this and someone made an audio recording of it and it became a scandal candle that an australian backbencher would have said this basically sounding like toady for the communist regime amen china. He kinda survived the scandal and then you know some and and returned to his role in parliament and then some months later it was revealed to things nearly simultaneously number one that he had taken money from a chinese businessman for his this campaign and number two that there was a video showing that he acts this wasn't an off the cuff statement. These were prepared remarks he had made and since this became a kind of metaphor. There were many other instances in australia. <hes> of you know blinking red lights in terms of very very deep penetration of australian society <hes> by <hes> the chinese vast influence bureaucracy. I'll just say they briefly there had been an accumulation of a number of studying incidents in australian universities of chinese overseas students being intimidated monitored followed and of australian professors being monitored and harassed for making statements about china that <hes> overseas chinese students were probably induced to protest so you brought up universities around the world and their unique role in trying to preserve some element of openness and academic freedom <hes> and that can be <hes> one of the first lines of <hes> and <hes> of defense against authoritarian interference but by the same token it can also be one of the first places that authoritarian regimes try to undermine or influence fluence <hes> at the launch event there was some discussion of ways that universities should rea- to things like confucius institutes for instance and mention pay who was part of the working group noted at the launch that he wouldn't recommend banning the confucius institutes <hes> but that rather there should be some kind of transparency around them and you you referred to <hes> and almost <hes> classified information like environment surrounding the contracts accident struck between universities and confucius institutes what can be done than about not just confucius institutes but other forms of chinese government influence within universities democracies around the world so i think we have to take apart the different influence activities seventies of the different potential forms of influence and <hes> we need to address them as a whole because i do think there's a chinese strategy strategy there but we also need to disad aggregate them because they have different implications the view we have taken in our report which i do believe elicited very broad consensus among the members of our working group is a little bit different than what some of the politicians auditions <hes> have suggested namely that the confucius institutes in themselves <hes> do not not necessarily represent a threat to academic freedom as long as they are transparent in their agreements and as as long as they are not banning or preempting or eclipsing discussion of certain subjects now. What are these institutes mainly. They're teaching chinese language and <hes> <hes> a couple of the members of our working group have examined the pedagogical instruments they use is the language instruction materials and they're not full of propaganda the they were not found to be intrinsically trend sickly objectionable so there are other aspects of the confucius institutes that present problems for academic freedom. The most serious areas one is that the agreements are secret and even the faculty <hes> typically on most university campuses. <hes> don't no of them. A second is that <hes> in some colleges and universities they may actually preempt discussion discussion of set sensitive subjects like tiananmen square two batters what's going on now in xinjiang province and if they veer into into programming <hes> that given the fact that the chinese government is paying for these pro these programs <hes> in different universities as if they veer away from language instruction to programming about current events and so on that is deeply troubling so we need transparency a and we need faculty governance. We need autonomy. We need <hes> democratic control and as long as the confucius institutes. I have these <hes> then you know they just add to the resources for language instruction personally. I strongly a doubt that the chinese government would agree to these terms and i think if they don't that should result in the cancellation of all of these contracts. I mean i think that's that's an interesting point that the transparency is not just there for its own sake but it's also to cause a discussion around what is and isn't permissible spell in these environments correct and it's just a basic principle of democracy and accountability and we have found shanty across the board <hes> <hes> in terms of think tanks <hes> corporate relations a relations was crucially state and local governments and sister city and sister interstate relationships as well as universities that transparency is key and that <hes> sharp power control control is very difficult to sustain an an aps in an atmosphere of transparency and so you just named a host of institutions in sectors that are grappling with the challenges that have emerged that are laid out in the report. That's just been released. In many ways <hes> democratic society societies society's haven't been oriented towards dealing with these kinds of problems in essence the challenges that are presented <hes> to free expression academic expression media the expression within democratic societies instigated imposed from the outside <hes> into the extent this has happened in the past it it wasn't done on with the same degree of integration intersection which makes it much more acute much more <hes> thicken sense what needs to happen and within democracies in the coming term <hes> you've just explained the university challenges but going beyond the university and some of these other sectors what needs to happen within the democratic context to ensure that there's an adequate response on the one hand but that the response itself is consistent with liberal democratic values cracked. Yes thanks chris and that the response is not hysterical that it doesn't <hes> <hes> breed kind of generalized is d- suspicion of <hes> <hes> chinese americans chinese australians or chinese overseas students and businessmen who were doing thing <hes> and women who were doing legitimate work in other countries. I think the most important thing or the beginning point is information formation. It's education. It's understanding it's awareness. I have become convinced as a result of my involvement augmon with this project that there is simply breathtaking ignorance in naievety in western democracies about what's going on here <hes> that china has a vast leninist communist party influence bureaucracy that centrally coordinated the top stop and that has as its mission and raise on debt the projection of sharp power <hes> some of it is the projection action of soft power through traditional means of <hes> you know who <hes> articulating their views and building relationships and so on that all countries <hes> do as particularly when they kind of reach a certain level on the world stage but a lot of it is sharp power and to put added another way in the way that former australian prime minister <hes> malcolm turnbull put it a year or two ago when he launched australia's elliot's <hes> very historic effort to finally push back against those activity that is covert <hes> <hes> coercive and corrupting attending <hes> and this is what we need to guard against <hes> so the covert is clear. We need transparency in all aspects of these relationships gifts gifts grants donations the terms for a conference <hes> the conditions for an exchange all of this needs to be disclosed and if the chinese interlocutors think tanks <hes> friendship associations and so on are not willing in to have the terms disclosed that in itself should be a breaking blinking red light that something is wrong here <hes> beyond that that <hes> we recommend consideration of i would put it stronger. I recommend creation of of federal government office where universities universities <hes> think tanks ngos local governments and other other american actors can go when they're approached by chinese <hes> potential you know exchange partner or to potential investor potential donor whatever it might be to just say you know we don't know much about this person is there is there are are there other aspects to their organizational ties their persona that that haven't been disclosed that we should know about before we make our own decision about whether we want to accept this donation or pursue you this exchange relationship or something like that and you know what we have found is frequently. You don't have to look very hard to find that the person who wants <hes> to have a cooperative relationship with the research institute and university is doing cutting edge research that could have military applications at a university affiliated with the people's liberation army or that another person is actually a part of the apparatus at the united front work department of the chinese communist party. We should note this stuff before we i pursued these relationships so <hes> are actors in the united states. Another democracies need help. They need places where they can go and they need to understand or stand. I hope they'll read at least parts of our report to educate themselves on mention one other thing that i think <hes> non-governmental organizations and state and local governments need to do they are frequently being played off one against the other by the divide and rule tactics of the chinese communist party. You know i can take my money elsewhere a we can take this exchange relationship elsewhere. You don't wanna come here. We'll get delegation from one of your competitor institutions and that game has to stop they need to develop a common base of information and a common code of conduct so they all have the same certain minimum standards and principles in terms of how they're going to relate to their potential interlocutors china and larry you mentioned the <hes> week knowledge that is possessed in many democratic settings about china and the way in which the system operates beyond its borders and engaging being democratic institutions places like africa latin america parts of europe. <hes> one of the problems seems to be structural which is that you have china experts who focused on china who may not have knowledge of the regions in which china today's deeply engaged at the same time. Many any of those regions may not have the china expertise in the policy community in the news media editors and so forth who can put china in context in a way that at their own societies can come to their own conclusions about the nature of the relationship they have so what do we need to do in the coming term to bridge those gaps and to make sure that the knowledge gaps that now exist in so many places are not as large in her shrunk over time well i i i hope that our report <hes> on chinese influence activities in the united states will help <hes> but we need the help of the media and organizations like the national endowment for democracy to defuse an <hes> to also kind of distill the knowledge i into into more bite sized chunks..