to weaponize Chinese Abroad
Chinese dictator Xi Jinping made more aggressive use, in his weekend speech to the Central Conference on United Front Work, of this deeply suspicious Communist organisation for radicalizing or weaponizing Chinese citizens living in Western countries.
China’s “United Front” system is an elaborate network of well-funded influence operations that infiltrate and co-opt groups outside the Chinese Communist Party, and for that matter outside of China. The United Front basically injects the ideology toxins of Chinese Communism to every group it finds useful and vulnerable.
United Front Work looks legitimate and well-organized, masquerading as cultural outreach and diplomatic programs. Covert subversive activities are also supported by the United Front.
One of the most pernicious programs overseen by the United Front Work Department is the Confucius Institute, a network of supposedly benign Chinese language and cultural training programs at American universities. In the last few years the U.S. government shut down most Confucius institutes, although they have been making an comeback under other names.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in December 2020 that the Confucius Institutes were only one of many appendages the United Front uses to influence students, especially young Chinese studying overseas.
” The United Front intimidates many members of academia and businesses as well as civil society groups and Chinese diaspora community members, such members of ethnic or religious minorities who voice out against the horrific abuses of human rights taking place in Xinjiang and Tibet,” Pompeo stated.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, established by Congress in 2000, warned in August 2018 that the United Front Work Department has accumulated more power, importance, and funding under Xi Jinping.
The U.S. Commission stated that Xi sees the United Front in a perfect instrument to subvert Western society, as politically-correct Western officials don’t want to critique it.
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
China’s state-run Xinhua news service quoted Xi telling the United Front conference to intensify its “patriotic” and “historic” efforts, with an emphasis on spreading Xi’s own totalitarian writings to Westerners and Chinese living abroad:
Xi defined the main tasks of the patriotic united front in the new era as follows: to follow the guidance of the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and uphold the CPC’s leadership; to adhere to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and hold high the great banner of patriotism and socialism; to balance commonality and diversity, focus on the central task of economic development and serve the overall interests of the country; to advance with the times and innovate on the basis of what has worked in the past; to strengthen theoretical and political guidance, and fulfill the political function of gathering support and pooling strength; to promote harmony between different political parties, ethnic groups, religions, social strata, as well as our compatriots at home and abroad; to promote concerted endeavor of Chinese people at home and abroad and bring together powerful strength for building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects and achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Xi outlined a number of targets that United Front Work should focus on. These included instructions to “develop religions within the Chinese context” as well as to “foster close connections with non-Communist Party of China intellectuals, and persons from new social strata.” Essentially, Xi wanted the United Front’s goal to undermine leftists, wokesters, and wokesters all over the globe.
Xi instructed the United Front also to win the hearts and minds in Hong Kong and Macao, Taiwan and overseas Chinese and rally all Chinese citizens at home and abroad for national revitalization.
As Pompeo and other critics have long noted, the United Front plays a major role in keeping overseas Chinese firmly in the Communist Party fold – using surveillance and threats when “winning hearts and minds” proves too difficult.
Xi stressed the need to maintain tight Communist Party control of the United Front. This implicitly explains why the Chinese growing middle class needs protection from temptations such as prosperity and freedom:
As the structure of our society is undergoing a profound change, the united front plays an even more important role in bolstering the Party’s class foundation and expanding public support for it. It is crucial that we fully understand and expand the patriotic unification front in this new age. We also need to be able to effectively fulfill our duties with a sense of responsibility and mission.
We should encourage the growth of the private sector, and help those who work in it to succeed. We need to help them to develop firm ideals and convictions and uphold core socialist values, to put into practice the new development philosophy and to nurture an entrepreneurial spirit, so that they become qualified builders of socialism with Chinese characteristics
Xi concluded by urging the United Front to work on “non-Communist Party of China intellectuals and personages from new social strata.”
With United Front guidance, Xi said the Chinese private sector could “develop firm ideals and convictions and uphold core socialist values” even as they pursue financial success, transforming them into “qualified builders of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
Organized and weaponized Chinese “patriots” living overseas, he said, can “help more foreigners understand and become friendly to China, so as to boost exchanges and mutual learning between Chinese and foreign cultures.”
Communist China is the greatest intellectual property thief in the history of mankind, so its notion of “exchanges” tends to be very one-sided. The United Front Work Department has long been a key player in China’s massive technology theft.
When Xi talks about “mutual learning” guided by the United Front, he means wholesale raids on the intellectual capital of other nations, through such means as the Thousand Talents Program (TTP), an extremely aggressive recruiting program for academics and engineers that has been investigated for espionage on numerous occasions. TTP is another program that the United Front Work Department oversees.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Sunday noted that Chinese Communism founder Mao Zedong referred to the United Front Work Department as one of the “three magic weapons” that would guarantee the victory of his movement, the other two being the Communist Party itself and People’s Liberation Army.
Xi Jinping has the same views of United. He wants Mao to be incorporated into history. Xi quoted Mao even in his weekend address
The United Front is an important magic weapon for the party to overcome the enemy, govern and rejuvenate the country, and it is an important magic weapon for uniting all Chinese sons and daughters at home and abroad to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation
“Xi makes it very clear that he will not only keep the party’s ‘magic weapon’, but also fit it with new edges, including how to win over the hearts and minds of cyberspace,” Xie Maosong of Tsinghua University told the SCMP.