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New Report Exposes China's Malign Influence and Corrosion of Democracy Worldwide

June 27, 2019

Washington, DC – A new report from the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Building Resiliency for Interconnected Democracies in Global Environments (BRIDGE) initiative examines the malign effects of China’s economic influence and manipulation of the information space worldwide.

“This report offers an unprecedented in-depth look at the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence tactics and their effect on democracies across the developing world,” said David Shullman, IRI Senior Advisor and the editor of the report.

The report, entitled "Chinese Malign Influence and the Corrosion of Democracy," brings together research by experts from 12 vulnerable democracies — Cambodia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Ecuador, Zambia, Mongolia, Hungary, The Gambia, Myanmar, Malaysia and the Maldives — and provides local perspectives on how China is impacting the politics and economics of these countries.

“From massive infrastructure projects that fuel corruption to efforts to stem criticism of China in the local media, the CCP’s malign influence in all of these countries is growing, and its tactics are becoming more sophisticated,” said Shullman. “As China’s global influence continues to grow, so too does the threat to democracies worldwide.”  

In addition to examining vulnerabilities to Chinese influence, the report also identifies sources of resilience within the twelve countries as well as in Australia, where the robust civil society, media, and political leadership have successfully pushed back against Chinese interference.

“China’s increasingly aggressive authoritarianism is one of the most daunting challenges facing our democratic institutions and values worldwide,” said IRI President Daniel Twining. “This significant new study of the mechanics of this phenomenon will help policymakers, civil society and citizens to inoculate their countries against malign forms of Chinese influence that corrode democratic practice.”

The BRIDGE initiative, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, looks to addresses the challenge to democracy from authoritarian regimes such as China by increasing knowledge of the nature of authoritarian tactics and engaging stakeholders to develop and implement their own strategies to confront these tactics.

Check out the executive summary for a glimpse at the report’s key findings, or read the full report for more information.