A study published by the Canberra-based Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), which is a defence and strategic policy think tank, has made alarming claims that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is controlling and installing influential individuals in community, business and media across the world to strengthen and spread its influence.
The study titled “The party speaks for you-Foreign interference and the Chinese Communist Party’s united front system”, has found that representatives of ethnic minority groups, religious movements, and business, science and political groups in China and overseas are being “won” over by the CCP.
According to the study report, which was carried out by Alex Joske, who is an analyst with ASPI, the CCP has been carrying out these activities, covertly and deceptively, using a network calledUnited Front which is a coalition of entities working towards the party’s goals.
As per Joske, in recent years, multiple links of groups and individuals associated with the United Front have come out in open where these individuals have been found to be indulging in political interference, economic espionage and spreading influence in university campuses.
“The United Frontsystem is a central component of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) legal and illicit technology-transfer efforts. United Front technology-transfer efforts seek to establish or co-opt professional associations with members in universities, governments and private companies. The groups then help recruit overseas scientists and promote technology transfer to China,” wrote Joske in his 50-page report.
As per the CCP, the United Front has been tasked with targeting 12 broad groups in China and across the world which includes ethnic minorities, religious individuals, non-public-economyindividuals (private businesses), new social strata individuals (urban professionals),overseas and returned overseas students and any other individuals who need uniting and liaising.
“In Australia, businessmen who were members of organisations with close ties to the United Front Work Department (UFWD) have been accused of interfering in Australian politics on China’s behalf. In the US, at least two senior members of United Front groups for scientists have been taken to court over alleged technology theft. Confucius Institutes, which are overseen with heavy involvement from the UFWD, have generated controversy for more than a decade for their effects on academic freedom and influence on universities.
Numerous Chinese students and scholars’ associations, which are United Frontgroups for Chinese international students, have been involved in suppressing academic freedom and mobilising students for nationalistic activities in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States,”reads the report.
APSI was founded by the Australian government and is partly funded by the Australian Department of Defence.
As per Joske, the individuals, who are members of the United Front network, worked very diligently during the Covid-19 pandemic. “The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted overseas United Frontnetworks. In Australia, Canada, the UK, the US, Argentina, Japan and the Czech Republic, groups mobilised to gather increasingly scarce medical supplies from around the world and send them to China.
Those efforts appear linked to directives from the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, a United Frontagency. The party’s Central Committee has described the federation as “a bridge and a bond for the party and government to connect with overseas Chinese compatriots”. After the virus spread globally, United Front groups began working with the CCP to donate supplies to the rest of the world and promote the party’s narratives about the pandemic,” it says.
“Regardless of whether those activities harmed efforts to control the virus, they appeared to take governments by surprise and demonstrate the effectiveness of United Frontwork. The CCP’s attempts to interfere in diaspora communities, influence political systems and covertly access valuable and sensitive technology will only grow as tensions between China and countries around the world develop. As governments begin to confront the CCP’s overseas interference and espionage, understanding the United Frontsystem will be crucially important,” the report further states.
According to Joske, the United Front system has nearly always been a core system of the CCP; however, its importance has grown manifold under Xi Jinping.