The events of the past month suggest several ways to counter antidemocratic pressure from China’s government.
As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) grows more aggressive in its efforts to spread censorship, propaganda, and other features of its authoritarian system to foreign lands, it is easy to be disheartened — particularly when so many companies and political leaders have capitulated to the pressure from Beijing.
But further from the headlines, individuals and organizations are exploring more principled responses to this genuine threat to global freedom and democracy. Indeed, the past month alone has featured numerous impressive examples of approaches that could also prove successful in the future.
The recent cases of pushback can be divided into four general types.
Investigation and Exposure
A key element of the CCP’s overseas influence operations is their subtle and often stealthy nature. Consequently, rigorous and well-documented investigations by scholars, journalists, and civil society have been useful in unveiling the campaigns and countering false CCP narratives.
On January 30, the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab published a report analyzing phishing operations that target overseas critics of the CCP, particularly in the Tibetan exile community, but also Uyghurs, Falun Gong activists, and Chinese rights defenders. The report identified basic digital security precautions that would help thwart the malicious tactic.
On February 8, veteran Sinologist Martin Hala published a detailed account of how the CCP-aligned energy and finance conglomerate CEFC has engaged in elite capture,…