Chairman Xi Jinping promised a more “loveable, admirable, appealing” China. Now his new chief diplomat is leading a direct — and indirect — assault against his critics in Australia and the world.
An annual threat assessment presented to the US Senate Intelligence Committee warns China is stepping up its global efforts to shape public — and political — opinions. It adds Xi may have accepted that his previously dogmatic tactics have backfired.
“Beijing’s growing efforts to actively exploit perceived societal divisions using its online personas move it closer to Moscow’s playbook for influence operations,” the report, which was released Thursday, finds.
And this change in tactics are “motivated by their view that anti-China sentiment is threatening their international image, access to markets, and technological expertise”.
But the new outburst wasn’t unanticipated.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil told the Australian National University in late February that “coercive, corrupting, deceptive or clandestine” foreign influence campaigns were well and truly active within Australia.
“The threat is ever-present. It is relentless, and it is insidious. And it not only affects individuals. It fundamentally undermines our democratic processes,” she warned.
Some international affairs analysts agree.
“It sure feels like the (Chinese) side has decided to level up in responding much more forcefully to what it sees as unfair accusations and actions,” writes Bill Bishop.
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