People keep moving from rural areas into cities.
US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, China’s Overseas United Front Work, August 24, 2018
This report for the commission was written by Alexander Bowe. China’s United Front Work (海外统战工作) is coming under increasing scrutiny by the U.S. government.
China uses what it calls “United Front” work to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD)—the agency responsible for coordinating these kinds of influence operations—mostly focuses on the management of potential opposition groups inside China, but it also has an important foreign influence mission. To carry out its influence activities abroad, the UFWD directs “overseas Chinese work,” which seeks to co-opt ethnic Chinese individuals and communities living outside China, while a number of other key affiliated organizations guided by China’s broader United Front strategy conduct influence operations targeting foreign actors and states. Some of these entities have clear connections to the CCP’s United Front strategy, while others’ linkage is less explicit. Organizations such as Chinese Students and Scholars Associations are less directly tied to the main United Front-related organizational structure, but many of their activities and acceptance of oversight from the CCP shows some level of guidance from the United Front strategy.
Today, United Front-related organizations are playing an increasingly important role in China’s broader foreign policy under Chinese President and General Secretary of the CCP Xi Jinping. It is precisely the nature of United Front work to seek influence through connections that are difficult to publicly prove and to gain influence that is interwoven with sensitive issues such as ethnic, political, and national identity, making those who seek to identify the negative effects of such influence vulnerable to accusations of prejudice. Because of the complexities of this issue, it is crucial for the U.S. government to better understand Beijing’s United Front strategy, its goals, and the actors responsible for achieving them if it is to formulate an effective and comprehensive response. This staff report provides an overview of the United Front, its history and ideology, the structure and operations of the UFWD and other organizations carrying out United Front work, and the implications of this activity for the United Statesl
Kirk Denton will look at the role of politics—especially political parties—in the establishment, administration, architectural design, and historical narratives of museums in Taiwan.
Please join the USC U.S.-China Institute for a discussion with Barry Naughton on his assessment of what he and his colleagues got right and wrong in looking at China’s economy over the past four decades.