top of page
  • Modern Conservative

The Chinese Communist Party’s Global Ambitions - PART I

The specter of communism did not disappear with the disintegration of the Communist Party in Eastern Europe

Table of Contents


1. The Chinese Communist Party’s Ambition to Dominate the World

a. The CCP’s Multi-Pronged Strategy to Subvert and Contain the US b. Inciting Anti-US Hatred in Preparation for War c. The CCP’s Overt Intention to Defeat the US

2. Communist China’s Strategies for World Domination

a. One Belt, One Road Initiative: Territorial Expansion Under the Guise of Globalization b. The Periphery Diplomacy Strategy to Exclude the US From the Asia-Pacific Region c. Strategy in Europe: ‘Divide and Conquer’ d. ‘Colonizing’ Africa With the ‘Chinese Model’ e. Advancing Into Latin America f. The CCP’s Growing Military Capabilities

The specter of communism has spent much of modern history establishing itself in our world, whether through overt totalitarian rule or covert subversion. The violent Bolshevik revolution in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century paved the way for the specter’s primary actor: the Chinese Communist Party.

Following World War II, the victorious Soviet Union used its military strength to impose communist rule over Eastern Europe and support the CCP in its struggle against the Chinese Nationalist government. After establishing the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the CCP came into its own as a leader in the global communist movement, promoting its Maoist ideology around the world.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the PRC as the world’s major communist power. Faced with the new geopolitical situation, the Party took a new, nonconfrontational approach: While retaining its totalitarian political system, it enticed the rest of the world to engage with its reformed market economy. As a result, many Western scholars, entrepreneurs, and politicians have stopped regarding the PRC as a communist regime, believing it to have turned on its founding ideological principles.

This could not be further from the truth. Despite adopting the trappings of a market system, the CCP has brought the essential characteristics of communism — deceit, malice, and struggle — to their apex, creating a regime that employs the most pernicious and insidious methods of political intrigue developed over thousands of years.

China is home to five millennia of civilized history and a splendid traditional heritage, which have earned its people respect and admiration the world over. The CCP capitalized on these positive sentiments; after seizing power and taking the Chinese people captive, it conflated the concepts of the Chinese nation and the communist regime. It presented its ambitions under the camouflage of China’s “peaceful rise,” confounding the international community’s ability to understand its true motives.

In order to prosper and endure, human society must follow the standards of conduct laid down by the Creator. Among these are the need to maintain high moral character, adhere to universal values, and protect people’s rights to what is theirs. The economic development of a normal society needs to be supported by a corresponding level of moral conduct.

But the Chinese communist regime has followed a diametrically opposite path, creating a fast-rising economic abomination that has encouraged severe moral degeneracy. The CCP seduces people with profits, controls them with force, and deceives them with lies. It has cultivated its demonic technique to the point of near perfection.The essential nature of the CCP has never changed; the Party’s strategy of economic engagement is simply using the “nutrition of the capitalist body” to strengthen its own socialist body, to stabilize its rule, and to realize its ambitions, rather than enabling China to see true prosperity and strength. [1] Its methods disregard basic ethics and universal values.

The evil specter’s motivation for arranging China’s “economic miracle” is simple: Economic strength gives the CCP regime the persuasive influence it needs to dictate its terms to the world. These arrangements are not intended to benefit China or the Chinese people, but rather to play on people’s worship of money and wealth so that the world will align with the CCP in economic cooperation and international affairs.

Internally, the Communist Party rules through a combination of tyranny and the most ruthless aspects of the capitalist system. It rewards evil and punishes good, turning the worst individuals into society’s most successful. Its policies magnify the evil side of human nature, using atheism to create a state of utter degeneracy in which people have no moral qualms.

When operating abroad, the CCP advocates the ideology of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” and offers powerful economic incentives as a lure to have people of the free world let down their guard, abandon moral principles, and turn a blind eye to the CCP’s vast abuses of human rights and persecution of religion. Many politicians and corporations in Western countries have betrayed their values and compromised themselves for profit, aligning themselves with the CCP’s practices.

For decades, free countries championed “engagement” in the hope that the CCP would undergo a peaceful transformation, but while China has indeed undergone a degree of superficial modernization and westernization, the Party has never abandoned its malign ideology or political system. Over the past few decades, the practical result of engagement has seen the CCP successfully and peacefully undermine the moral obligations of the United States and corrupt the public will.

The CCP is currently the main arm of the communist specter and thus the greatest threat to free societies everywhere. Even if the Party’s efforts to establish itself as the world’s leading power are not directly successful, it will still have achieved its underlying goals: to spread the poison of communism to all corners of the earth, part people from their moral values, and have them betray tradition and the divine. It tempts people with economic interests, manipulates them with financial traps, infiltrates their political systems, intimidates them with military force, and confuses them with propaganda.

Faced with such great danger, we must carefully examine the CCP regime’s ambitions, strategies, and tactics.

1. The Chinese Communist Party’s Ambition to Dominate the World

Communism’s unchanging mission is one of constant expansion. The CCP is not content to merely rule over the Chinese people; it desires control over the entire world. By its very nature, the Communist Party opposes heaven, earth, and tradition; it aims to smash the “old world” and abolish all states, nations, and classes, supposedly for the sake of “liberating all of humanity.”

But because traditional culture had deep roots in society, at times communism has had to adopt a gradual and roundabout approach to supplant it. In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin claimed the need for “socialism in one country,” while the CCP adopted “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Unlike the political parties that share power or hold power by rotation in Western democracies, the CCP has uncontested authority. It sets strategic goals with a scope of decades or centuries. A few years after seizing power in 1949, it rolled out the slogan “surpass Britain and catch up to America,” which prefaced the Great Leap Forward. Later, owing to unfavorable domestic and international situations, the CCP assumed a low profile for decades.

After the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, much of the international community boycotted the Chinese regime. In response, the Party evaluated the situation and concluded that it was still unable to compete directly with the United States. So rather than attempting to take the lead on the international stage, it took the path of hiding its strengths and biding its time. This was not because the CCP had changed its goals, but rather because it adopts different strategies depending on changes in the political situation and geopolitical trend. In understanding the CCP regime, it can be said that the communist specter used the ancient Chinese strategic feint of “openly repairing the plank roads while secretly advancing via the hidden route of Chencang.” The first communist superpower was the Soviet Union, but its ultimate role was to aid the rise and maturation of communist-ruled China.

Since World War I, the United States has been the most powerful country on earth, serving to maintain international order. Any country that wants to overturn this order must bring down the United States, so in terms of the CCP’s overall strategic considerations, America is the Party’s main enemy. This has been the case for decades, and the CCP has never stopped preparing for an all-out offensive against the United States.

In the book The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower, national security expert Michael Pillsbury wrote that the PRC has a long-term strategy to subvert the US-led world economic and political order and to replace it with communism by 2049, the one-hundredth anniversary of the Communist Party’s rise to power in China. [2] Pillsbury notes the Chinese film Silent Contest, produced by the National Defense University of China, which states that the CCP’s process of realizing its “great cause” of dominating the world “will inevitably run into constant wear-and-tear and struggle with the US hegemonic system,” and “it is a centennial contest, not to be shifted by the human will.” Professor Arthur Waldron of the University of Pennsylvania stated at a 2004 Senate hearing that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the only army in the world that is dedicated to anti-US operations. [3] Additionally, most of the CCP’s diplomatic relations and international activities target the United States directly or indirectly.

a. The CCP’s Multi-Pronged Strategy to Subvert and Contain the US

The CCP has taken a comprehensive approach in its attempt to gain world dominance. In terms of ideology, it competes with the United States and other democratic and free countries. It uses forced technology transfers and intellectual-property theft to close the tech gap and boost its economic competitiveness, such as in the manufacture of semiconductors, where it lags by decades. Militarily, it engages in a silent rivalry with the United States by means of asymmetrical and “unrestricted warfare” in places like the South China Sea. It backs North Korea, Iran, and other rogue regimes to impede the United States and NATO.

In diplomacy, the CCP has promoted its periphery strategy and the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) plan. It has very quickly expanded its international influence among neighboring countries, as well as countries in Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, in an attempt to build an international coalition, develop a Chinese-led sphere, and isolate the United States.

The CCP is using multiple methods to accomplish these goals. The PRC established the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2001; the “16+1” cooperation network (now called “17+1”) with Central and Eastern European countries in 2012; and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2015. It cooperates keenly as part of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) economic bloc and vigorously promotes the internationalization of its currency. It seeks to control the formulation of industrial standards (such as those used for the proposed 5G cellular networks) and to dominate public discourse.

The CCP has taken advantage of press freedom in the United States and other Western countries to carry out united-front operations, spread propaganda, and engage in espionage. This is its attempt to manipulate the United States as much as possible and impose change from within, without engaging in conventional warfare.

CCP agents bribe US government officials, legislators, diplomats, and retired military officers. The Party uses economic interests to guide American business owners to lobby for the Chinese communists and to influence US policy on China. It forces high-tech companies to cooperate with the CCP’s internet censorship and Great Firewall; coerces and incentivizes many in overseas Chinese communities to serve as fifth columnists; and infiltrates Western think tanks and academic departments. It manipulates these institutions into exercising self-censorship on sensitive topics, thus effectively adopting the stance of the Communist Party. Chinese companies, which are controlled or influenced by the CCP, have invested heavily in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

On one hand, the CCP develops its influence in various countries to envelop and contain the United States, while on the other hand, it establishes hidden strongholds on American soil to undermine it from within. It has built an extensive network of agents and has fostered splits in US society, posing a serious internal threat.

b. Inciting Anti-US Hatred in Preparation for War

Before the Chinese communists seized power, they repeatedly praised the United States for its friendship with China and for the American democratic system. However, after the CCP set up its regime, it immediately took advantage of the suffering China had experienced in modern history, as well as the people’s desire for a strong nation. The CCP painted itself as China’s savior by stoking hatred against the United States and other foreign countries.

The CCP’s ideology runs on hatred; its version of patriotism entails hating Japan, hating Taiwan, hating Tibetans, hating the ethnic minorities of Xinjiang, hating religious believers, hating dissidents, and, most importantly, hating the United States. There is a saying among Chinese netizens: “For small problems, blame Japan, and for big ones, blame the United States.” By inciting hatred against foreign foes, the Party helps smooth over public outrage during domestic crises.

In fact, the CCP does not care about whether Chinese people live or die, nor does it care about China’s territorial integrity and sustainable long-term development. It is a challenge to describe the true evilness of how the CCP has persecuted its own people, betrayed China’s sovereignty, destroyed morality and traditional culture, and sabotaged China’s future.

By inciting hatred of foreign countries, the CCP aims, first, to paint itself as a savior to the Chinese people to help legitimize its brutal rule; second, to use nationalist sentiment to divert public attention in times of crisis, as mentioned above; third, to build support for the Party’s expansionist ambitions and base schemes as a means of “rectifying” the deprivations China suffered in modern history; and fourth, to use hatred to create the psychological preparedness needed for future wars.

The CCP has indoctrinated the younger generation with hatred of the United States in preparation for using them as its pawns in the effort to supersede America and dominate the world. When the time comes, the CCP intends to use China’s youth to infiltrate the United States and its allied democratic states in various fashions, participate in all-out armed conflict, wage unrestricted warfare, and, should the need arise, sacrifice themselves in a nuclear holocaust.

The jubilant reactions expressed by much of the Chinese public following the 9/11 terrorist attacks indicated that the CCP was making significant inroads with its propaganda. Currently, on major Chinese political and military forums, one commonly sees sentiments like “China and the United States must have a war” — yet another indication of the CCP’s success in educating people to hate the United States. This is a long-term, gradual mobilization for war, deliberately planned and systematically carried out.

The CCP’s propaganda is not limited to China’s borders. Internationally, it explicitly or overtly supports rogue regimes and terrorist organizations in fighting the United States, providing them with financial assistance, weapons and equipment, theoretical contributions, tactical training, and public support. The Party directs the global forces of anti-Americanism and leads an axis of anti-U.S. states.

c. The CCP’s Overt Intention to Defeat the US

In 2008, while the United States was struggling with an economic crisis, Beijing hosted the most expensive Olympic Games in history. Dressed in a costume of prosperity, the regime thrust itself onto the international stage. At the time, the US manufacturing industry was in decline, and the country faced an economic crisis approaching the severity of the Great Depression. In the face of such economic difficulties, the US administration asked China to help by buying US Treasurys. The CCP’s media mouthpieces immediately began to run articles that claimed “America is surviving by borrowing money from us Chinese”; “America is going downhill, China is in position to replace it”; and so on. Virtually all of the Party-controlled media in China ran such headlines, and the ideas even became part of popular opinion among Western media and scholars.

After 2008, the United States showed signs of decline in areas such as economic standing, military strength, and political stability. On the economic front, the US administration at the time was pushing universal health care, expanding social benefits, placing climate issues at the center of policy, and restricting traditional manufacturing. The green-energy industry was defeated by made-in-China products, and US manufacturing continued to be hollowed out. There was no way for these policies to counter and guard against the PRC’s illicit trade practices and massive theft of intellectual property.

In the face of these trends, many simply accepted the narrative that China was in ascendance and the United States was in decline. US military spending decreased, and the United States adopted a weak diplomatic stance. On the US political front, socialist ideology was on the rise, democratic politics were becoming a showground for partisan squabbling, and government functions were often handicapped as a result. The CCP compared this chaos unfavorably with the focused totalitarianism of its own system, depicting US democracy as a laughing stock.

In 2010, China surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy. In 2014, according to World Bank statistics, if calculated based on purchasing power parity, China’s GDP might have surpassed that of the United States. [4] Seeing that the balance of power between China and the United States appeared to be shifting, and believing that America’s decline was irreversible, the CCP ended its old strategy of hiding its strength and biding its time. Instead, the Party openly and directly took aim at the international order led by the United States. The official stance of the CCP, the media, and experts gradually started to speak unabashedly of an expansionist “China dream.”

In 2012, during its 18th National Congress, the CCP introduced the notion of building a “community of shared future for mankind.” In 2017, at its World Political Parties Dialogue, the CCP evoked the ancient imagery of the myriad kingdoms coming to pay their respects at the Chinese imperial court. The CCP had gone public with its desire to export the communist “China model” to the rest of the world.

The CCP’s ambition in spreading what it calls the “China model,” the “Chinese plan,” or “Chinese wisdom” is to lead the world and establish a new world order, a goal that it has spent decades preparing for. Such a new order would present a formidable new axis of evil, an adversary more threatening to the free world than the Axis alliance during World War II.

2. Communist China’s Strategies for World Domination

a. One Belt, One Road Initiative: Territorial Expansion Under the Guise of Globalization

In 2013, Beijing officially introduced its OBOR initiative, also known as Belt and Road. The plan is for China to invest trillions of dollars to build critical infrastructure, such as ports, bridges, railroads, and energy facilities, in dozens of countries, with the aim of bringing them under China’s influence. It is the biggest investment project in history.

“One Belt” refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt, which consists of three land-based components: from China through Central Asia and Russia to Europe and the Baltic Sea; from northwestern China through Central and West Asia to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean; and from southwestern China through the Indochina Peninsula to the Indian Ocean.

“One Road” refers to the Twenty-First-Century Maritime Silk Road, which is a two-pronged effort: The first route goes from Chinese ports to the South China Sea, through the Strait of Malacca and on to Europe via the Indian Ocean; the second heads to the southern Pacific Ocean.

The land-based One Belt consists of six economic corridors:

  • China–Mongolia–Russia

  • The New Eurasian Land Bridge

  • China–Central Asia–West Asia

  • China–Indochina Peninsula

  • China–Pakistan

  • Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar

The New Eurasian Land Bridge will be based on rail links between China and Europe, such as Yiwu to Madrid and Wuhan to Hamburg and Lyon. Transportation from China to Europe takes just over ten days by rail, compared to over thirty days by sea. The China Railway Express, which runs along these rail links, began operations in 2011 and has been an important component of OBOR.

The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor is a joint plan by the two governments. It includes a highway connecting Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Province with the port of Gwadar in Pakistan, on the Indian Ocean. The CCP gained the right to operate the port, Pakistan’s gateway to the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, in 2013. The port occupies a critical strategic location, connecting the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world’s crude oil passes, to the Arabian Sea.

The general framework of the sea-based One Road is to build a number of strategic ports so as to gain control over global sea transportation. In financially robust countries, Chinese companies enter into equity participation or joint ventures. In financially weaker countries, the PRC invests large amounts of money locally and attempts to obtain the rights to operate their ports.

In 2013, China Merchants Port Holdings Co. Ltd. bought 49 percent equity from Terminal Link SAS in France. With this purchase, it obtained the operating rights to fifteen terminals in eight countries on four continents, including the South Florida Container Terminal in Miami and the Houston Terminal Link (now called the Terminal Link Texas). [5]

Other ports and terminals now under China’s control include the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge in Belgium, the Suez Canal Container Terminal in Egypt, the Kumport (or Ambarli) in Turkey, the Port of Piraeus in Greece, the Pasir Panjang Terminal in Singapore, the Euromax Terminal Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the second-phase terminal at Khalifa Port in the United Arab Emirates, the Port of Vado in Italy, the Kuantan Port in Malaysia, the Port of Djibouti in East Africa, and the Panama Canal. In addition to investment, the CCP also uses the debt traps created by OBOR to obtain control of strategic locations, as in the case of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port, which in 2017 was leased to a Chinese company for ninety-nine years.

The CCP launched its Digital Silk Road in 2018 with the intention of reshaping the future development of internet infrastructure. The Digital Silk Road is considered an advanced stage in the OBOR project, and it mainly includes building fiber optic infrastructure, digital information services, international telecommunications, and e-commerce. The Great Firewall, which filters internet traffic in China, is being exported to OBOR countries, as are the systems of mass surveillance already used within China. Additionally, many countries involved in OBOR do not have a complete credit system. The CCP aims to introduce its systems of e-commerce and electronic payment services, such as Alipay, to these countries, while totally shutting out Western competition.

The extent of the CCP’s strategic reach can be seen from its investment in global infrastructure. According to a November 2018 report by The New York Times, the CCP has constructed or is constructing more than forty pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure projects; more than two hundred bridges, roads, and railways; almost two hundred power plants for nuclear power, natural gas, coal, and renewables; and a series of major dams. At the time of the report, the CCP had invested in at least 112 countries, most of which belonged to the OBOR initiative. [6]

As OBOR took shape, the CCP regime’s efforts to supplant the United States on the world stage grew. It aggressively promoted the yuan as an international currency, as well as its own credit system. Chinese-made telecommunications networks (including 5G) are being pushed as the future in many countries, as are Chinese-built high-speed rail lines. The aim is to eventually establish a set of standards that is controlled by the CCP and independent of the current Western standards.

In the early stages of OBOR, the CCP focused on neighboring countries, reaching as far as Europe. Very quickly, the CCP expanded its reach to Africa, Latin America, and even the Arctic Ocean, covering the entire world. The Maritime Silk Road originally consisted of just two routes. A third route, the Polar Silk Road, was added to connect to Europe via the Arctic Ocean. Prior to OBOR, China had already invested heavily in countries in Africa and Latin America. These countries are now part of the major structure of OBOR, which has enabled the CCP to more rapidly expand its financial and military reach in those continents.

The initial goal of OBOR is to export China’s excess capacity by building up basic infrastructure such as railways and highways in other countries. These countries are rich in resources and energy. By building infrastructure in these countries, the CCP accomplishes two secondary goals. One is to open routes to ship domestic products to Europe at low cost; the other is to secure the strategic resources of countries that participate in OBOR. The CCP’s intention is to increase mainland Chinese exports, not to help the countries along the Belt and Road to establish their own manufacturing industries — the CCP would not help create competition for its own manufacturing.

The real ambition behind OBOR is to use economic strength as a vanguard to establish control over the financial and political lifelines of other countries, transforming them into colonies of the Chinese regime and pawns on the global stage. A byproduct of participating in OBOR schemes is the importation of all pernicious aspects of communism: corruption, debt, and totalitarian repression. The project is a deceptive trap that will not bring lasting economic prosperity to its participants.

These dangers have elicited alarm from many countries, prompting their governments to halt or reduce their involvement in the OBOR scheme. On occasion, Beijing has conceded that it should be more transparent and make adjustments to the heavily criticized debt traps. Nevertheless, the CCP’s plans can’t be underestimated. While Western enterprises operate on profit-seeking principles and won’t tough it out in unstable host countries for more than a few years, the Party’s calculus extends into the next century. It can tolerate unstable international environments over the long term without regard for immediate losses.

The CCP works to develop pro-communist governments that will support it in the United Nations and other international organizations. Its aim is to assume leadership across Asia, Africa, and Latin America in its struggle against the free world, and ultimately replace the United States as the world’s number one power. Human costs are no object in pursuing these aims — for instance, the Party can force the Chinese people to pay for investment costs that privately owned Western enterprises could never handle. In this war to conquer the world, it is not about how powerful the CCP is on paper, but that the CCP has at its disposal the resources of hundreds of millions of Chinese people, whose lives and livelihoods the Party views as expendable.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said that with the OBOR project, the Chinese regime had successfully integrated the Mackinder-Mahan-Spykman theses of world domination. In an article discussing this view, Andrew Sheng of the Asia Global Institute wrote:

Sir Halford Mackinder was an influential British geographer/historian who argued in 1904 that “Whoever rules the Heartland (central Asia) commands the World-Island (Eurasia); whoever rules the World-Island commands the World.” His American contemporary Alfred Mahan was a naval historian who shaped the US strategy to dominate sea power, extending the British maritime empire logic of controlling the sea lanes, choke points and canals by policing global trade. In contrast, Nicholas John Spykman argued that the Rimland (the coastal lands encircling Asia) is more important tha[n] the Heartland, thus: “Who controls the Rimland rules EuroAsia; who rules EuroAsia controls the destinies of the world.” [7]

These insights reflect the Western world’s growing vigilance against the CCP’s ambitions exemplified by the OBOR project.

Of course, the CCP’s ambition is not limited to the scope of OBOR. The initiative is not merely focused on obtaining the rights to land routes, sea lanes, and major ports. The CCP wants to take advantage of any weaknesses that exist around the world. In recent decades, many countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America became newly independent states created by decolonization. These regions experienced a power vacuum, inviting the CCP to gain footholds. The newly independent countries that were once part of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites had weak sovereign control and were also easy pickings for the CCP regime. Other unstable countries, which Western investors tend to stay away from, naturally fell into the CCP’s trap. Small countries, island nations, and underdeveloped countries in strategic locations are all especially vulnerable to Beijing’s ambitions.

Even some states that were once firmly in the Western democratic camp have drifted into the CCP’s orbit after suffering from weak economies and high debt. Geopolitically, the CCP is gradually surrounding the United States by controlling the economies of other countries. The aim is to marginalize and eventually remove American influence from those countries, by which time the CCP will have established a separate world order centered on communist hegemony. This is not a new approach. It has its roots in the Party’s original strategy of occupying the countryside to surround the cities, which led it to victory in the Chinese Civil War.

b. The Periphery Diplomacy Strategy to Exclude the US From the Asia-Pacific Region

Communist Party think tanks define the regime’s “periphery diplomacy” as such: “China neighbors fourteen countries along a lengthy land border and looks across the sea at six other neighboring countries. Beyond that, to the east is the Asia-Pacific region, and to the west is Eurasia. That is, the radial extent of China’s extended neighborhood covers two-thirds of international politics, economy, and security. Thus, the framework of periphery diplomacy is more than mere regional strategy. … It is a true grand strategy.” [8]

Australia: The Weak Link of the Western World

In June 2017, Fairfax Media Ltd. and the Australian Broadcasting Corp. released the results of a five-month investigation in the documentary Power and Influence: The Hard Edge of China’s Soft Power. The documentary, which raised concern around the world, described the CCP’s widespread infiltration and control over Australian society. [9] Six months later, Sam Dastyari, a member of the Australian Labor Party, announced his resignation from the Senate. Dastyari’s resignation followed accusations that he had accepted money from CCP-linked Chinese merchants for making statements in support of Beijing regarding South China Sea territorial disputes. His statements on this critical issue clashed with the views of his own party. [10]

In June 2017, Australia’s ABC News updated a report revealing political donations by Chinese-linked entities, ostensibly intended to influence Australia–China trade policies. The report revealed more than $5.5 million in donations from Chinese-linked companies and individual donors to Liberal and Labor party war chests between 2013 and 2015. [11] Furthermore, in recent years, Australian media outlets have signed contracts with Chinese state-run media outlets, agreeing to broadcast propaganda provided by Chinese media to Australian audiences. [12]

In 2017, the book Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia, by author Clive Hamilton, was rejected three times by Australian publishers due to fear of Chinese repercussions. After much deliberation, a publisher agreed to print it. The censorship elicited widespread concern among Australians about China’s influence in their country. [13]

In 2015, Australia allowed a Chinese company with close ties to the PLA to secure a ninety-nine-year lease over Darwin Port — a strategic seaport and military location for guarding against attacks from the north. Former US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage expressed shock at the deal, and said the United States was concerned about the development. [14]

What is the strategic value of CCP infiltration into Australia? The key aim is to weaken the US–Australia alliance. [15] In its 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, the Australian government said: “The United States has been the dominant power in our region throughout Australia’s post-Second World War history. Today, China is challenging America’s position.” [16] Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, also said that Beijing was trying to gain a strategic advantage in the region for the purpose of ending Australia’s alliance with the United States. [17]

Australia is the CCP’s testing ground for soft-power operations in its strategy of periphery diplomacy. [18] The recent history of Chinese communist infiltration in Australia dates back to 2005, when Zhou Wenzhong, then-vice minister of foreign affairs, arrived in Canberra and informed senior officials at the Chinese Embassy of the CCP’s new diplomatic approach. He said that the first goal of including Australia in China’s greater periphery was to ensure that Australia would serve as a trustworthy and stable supply base for China’s economic growth in the next twenty years. The mission of those present at the meeting was to understand how the CCP could broadly exert influence over Australia in the spheres of economics, politics, and culture. [19]

The CCP uses China’s economic strength to force Australia to make concessions on military and human rights issues. The standard approach adopted by the CCP to coerce others into cooperation is to cultivate personal relationships via economic interests and simultaneously create the implicit threat of blackmail. [20]

After years of investigation, Hamilton reported the following: “Australian institutions — from our schools, universities and professional associations to our media; from industries like mining, agriculture and tourism to strategic assets like ports and electricity grids; from our local councils and state governments to our political parties in Canberra — are being penetrated and shaped by a complex system of influence and control overseen by agencies serving the Chinese Communist Party.” [21]

Since the 2008 economic crisis, in practice, Australia has proven willing to serve as the PRC’s supply base, due to the common belief that China rescued Australia from recession. Hamilton says that the reason the CCP’s infiltration and influence is so effective is that Australians have been “mesmerised by the belief that only China can guarantee [their] economic prosperity” and “afraid to stand up to Beijing’s bullying.” [22]

Despite awareness of the CCP’s infiltration and influence on Western society, and particularly its infiltration and control of overseas Chinese communities, most well-meaning Westerners naively thought that the main purpose of the Party’s strategies was “negative” — that is, to silence the voices of critics and those with different political opinions. However, Hamilton says that behind the “negative” operations are the CCP’s “positive” ambitions: to use ethnic Chinese immigrants to change the framework of Australian society, and to have Westerners sympathize with the PRC so as to allow Beijing to build up influence. In this way, Australia would be transformed into the Party’s helper in its goal of becoming an Asian superpower and then a global one. [23]

Similarly, the CCP is deepening its influence over Australia’s close neighbor and ally, New Zealand. Anne-Marie Brady, an expert in Chinese politics at the University of Canterbury, wrote in the 2017 report Magic Weapons: China’s Political Influence Activities Under Xi Jinping that several Chinese-born members of New Zealand’s Parliament had close links with mainland China, and that many politicians had been bribed by massive political donations from rich Chinese merchants and CCP united-front organizations, such as Chinese trade associations in New Zealand. [24] Shortly after her report was published, Brady’s office was broken into. Before the break-in, she had received an anonymous threatening letter saying, “You are the next.” [25]

The CCP is actively roping in New Zealand’s local politicians. For example, members of New Zealand political parties are treated lavishly on trips to China. Retired politicians are offered high-paying positions in Chinese enterprises, as well as other benefits to have them follow Party’s directives. [26]

Targeting Pacific Island Nations for Strategic Value

Despite their size, tiny Pacific island nations are of great strategic importance. Though their total land area is just 53,000 square kilometers (20,463 square miles), their exclusive economic zones over parts of the ocean total 19,000,000 square kilometers (7,335,941 square miles) — an area over six times the size of China’s exclusive economic zones. Developing greater ties with Pacific island nations, which can serve as naval bases, is a publicly acknowledged component of the CCP’s military strategy. [27] Currently, the Pacific area can be divided into five spheres of influence: American, Japanese, Australian, New Zealander, and French.

To develop its maritime capabilities in the Pacific Ocean, the CCP must first build good relations with island nations, and then slowly push out the US presence. The CCP has been outstripping American activity in the area by investing immense amounts of money in infrastructure projects in Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, as well as promoting local tourism and making e-business platforms available. [28]

Following large-scale mainland Chinese financial assistance and investment, the arrogant behavior exhibited by CCP officials reflects the regime’s mentality when it feels emboldened — it attempts to treat the people of weaker nations the way it treats the Chinese people under its totalitarian control. Naturally, the CCP cannot be expected to respect international regulations and protocol.

At the APEC summit held in late 2018 in Papua New Guinea, the rude and uncivilized behavior of Chinese officials shocked those in attendance. A high-ranking US official described the CCP officials’ behavior as “tantrum diplomacy.” Chinese officials resorted to shouting as they accused other countries of plotting against China. They bluntly stopped journalists from interviewing attendees at a forum held between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and leaders of the Pacific Island nations, demanding that all journalists refer to the news release by the Xinhua News Agency. To prevent statements condemning the CCP regime’s unfair trade behavior from being written into a joint communiqué, the officials demanded a meeting with Papua New Guinea’s foreign minister. The minister turned down the request on the basis of remaining impartial. [29]

Using Debt Traps to Seize Control of Central Asia’s Resources

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the CCP has gone to great effort to develop and cement its relationships with the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The goal of the CCP’s strategy in Central Asia can be viewed from several angles: For one, Central Asia is an unavoidable land route in China’s westward expansion. Further, when China constructs infrastructure to transport goods in and out of China, it can also expand its commercial interests in Central Asia. Second, China aims to seize the natural resources, including coal, oil, gas, and precious metals, that are abundant in these countries. Additionally, by controlling Central Asian countries that are geographically and culturally close to China’s Xinjiang Province, the regime can tighten its control over the ethnic minorities there.

The CCP has become the most influential actor in Central Asia. The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, released a report in 2013 saying that China has been rapidly growing into an economically dominant power in this region by taking advantage of social unrest in Central Asia. Beijing sees Central Asia as a supply base for raw materials and resources and as a market for its low-priced, low-quality products. [30] Meanwhile, the CCP has also poured millions of US dollars into investment and aid in Central Asia in the name of maintaining stability in Xinjiang.

A huge network of highways, railways, airways, communications, and oil pipelines has closely connected China with Central Asia. The China Road and Bridge Corporation and its contractors have been responsible for the construction of highways, railways, and electricity transmission lines in Central Asia. They pave roads on some of the most dangerous and complex terrain and construct new roads to transport China’s goods to Europe and the Middle East, as well as to ports in Pakistan and Iran. From 1992 to 2012, in the two decades of diplomatic relations between China and the five Central Asian countries, the total volume of trade between China and Central Asia grew a hundredfold, according to Chinese state-run media. [31]

In Central Asia, the CCP has promoted investments in large state-run, credit-financed infrastructure projects. Some scholars have realized that such investments could form the basis of a new international order in which China would play a dominant role. Seen from this perspective, Central Asia, like Australia, is another testing ground for the CCP’s conceptual revolution in diplomatic strategy. [32]

Beijing tends to support corrupt authoritarian leaders in Central Asian countries, and its opaque investment projects are considered beneficial primarily for the local elites. The International Crisis Group’s report noted that each of the Central Asian governments is weak and corrupt, and the countries they rule fraught with social and economic unrest. [33] The large infrastructure projects promoted by the CCP are not only linked to massive loans, but also involve official approvals and permits, which are based on vested interests. This gives rise to and worsens the corruption in these regimes.

In Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, the former first secretary of the Communist Party of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in the USSR, served as the country’s president from the time of independence in 1991 to his death in 2016. In 2005, government forces clashed with protesters in the eastern city of Andijan, resulting in hundreds of deaths. The CCP placed itself as an ally of Karimov, rendering firm support to the regimes in Uzbekistan and other countries in the region in their efforts to safeguard the status quo. [34]

The fragile economic structures of Central Asian countries, in combination with massive PRC infrastructure loans, leave these countries especially prone to falling into China’s debt trap. Turkmenistan has suffered from a severe economic crisis, with an estimated annual inflation rate in 2018 of 300 percent, estimated unemployment at more than 50 percent, severe food shortages, and rampant corruption. In 2018, China was the only major buyer of Turkmen gas, and also the largest creditor of its foreign debt, which stood at $9 billion (estimated at 30 percent of GDP in 2018). [35] [36] Eventually, Turkmenistan may have no choice but to hand over its natural gas fields — which generate 70 percent of the country’s revenue — to the PRC to pay off its debt. [37]

In 2018, Tajikistan borrowed more than $300 million from China to build a power plant. In return, it transferred the operating license to a gold mine to PRC control for the length of time the mine produces enough gold to repay the debt. [38]

The Kyrgyzstan economy is also in danger, as large-scale infrastructure projects run by the PRC also caused it to fall into the debt trap. The country will likely have to cede part of its natural resources to pay the debt. Kyrgyzstan also cooperated with Chinese communications companies Huawei and ZTE to build digital communication tools in order to tighten governmental control over people, while also leaving the CCP regime a backdoor to extend its surveillance into these countries. [39]

Beijing took advantage of the power vacuum in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union to enter the Kazakh energy sector. The Kazakh economy depends on its crude oil production, and its oil revenue is used to buy cheap Chinese products. Apart from oil drilling, this nation’s industrial foundation is fragile. With the flow of cheap Chinese products into its market, the Kazakh manufacturing industry collapsed. [40]

Another motive for the CCP’s expansion in Central Asia is to crack down on Uyghur dissidents living in the region. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional alliance driven by China and Russia, allows for extradition between the six member countries. A member country can even send its own officials to another member country to conduct an investigation. In this way, the CCP can extend its suppression of Uyghurs abroad and arrest Uyghur dissidents who have taken refuge in nearby countries. [41]

Using Pivotal States to Secure Strategic Resources

The Communist Party’s peripheral strategy involves creating economic indebtedness in pivotal countries, which are then used as a base for achieving strategic goals in the entire region. According to the Party’s think tanks, pivotal states are countries that have considerable regional power that Beijing has the capability and resources to guide; they have no direct conflicts with the CCP in terms of strategic interests, and most don’t share close interests with the United States. [42] In addition to the aforementioned Australia, Kazakhstan, and others, examples of target countries for the Chinese regime include Iran and Burma (also known as Myanmar).

In the Middle East, Iran receives the greatest amount of Chinese investment. Iran is an important oil producer in the region and has been in ideological opposition to the West since the late 1970s, making it a natural economic and military partner for the PRC. Beijing has maintained close economic and military relations with Iran since the 1980s.

In 1991, the International Atomic Energy Agency discovered that mainland China had exported uranium to Iran and that the PRC and Iran had signed a secret nuclear agreement in 1990. [43] In 2002, when Iran’s uranium enrichment project was revealed, Western oil companies withdrew from the country, giving the CCP an opportunity to capitalize on the situation and cultivate closer relations with Iran. [44]

Bilateral trade volume between the PRC and Iran grew by more than one hundred times between 1992 and 2011, despite international sanctions on the Iranian regime. [45] Due to Chinese assistance, Iran was able to weather the international isolation imposed on it and develop a broad arsenal of short- to medium-range ballistic missiles, as well as anti-ship cruise missiles. The Chinese regime also provided anti-ship mines and fast-attack boats, and helped Iran establish a covert chemical weapons project. [46]

Another pivotal neighbor favored by the CCP is Burma, which boasts a long coastline providing strategic access to the Indian Ocean. The CCP regards the opening of a China–Burma channel as a strategic step to minimizing reliance on the Strait of Malacca. [47] The Burmese military government’s poor human rights record has caused it to be isolated by the international community. The 1988 democracy movement in Burma was ultimately crushed with military force. The following year, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, army tanks opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators.

The two authoritarian governments, both condemned by the international community, found a degree of solace in their diplomatic company and have since enjoyed close relations. In October 1989, Burma’s Than Shwe visited China, and the two sides signed a $1.4 billion arms deal. In the 1990s, there were again many arms deals signed between the two sides. Equipment the CCP has sold to Burma includes fighter planes, patrol ships, tanks and armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft guns, and rockets. Chinese military, political, and economic support thus became the Burmese military junta’s lifeline in its struggle for continued survival. [48]

In 2013, the Chinese invested $5 billion into the China–Burma crude oil and gas pipeline, said to be China’s fourth-largest strategic oil-and-gas import conduit. Although it met with strong popular opposition, in 2017, it went into operation with the backing of the CCP. [49] Similar investments include the Myitsone Dam (currently placed on hold due to local opposition) and the Letpadaung Copper Mine. In 2017, bilateral trade between China and Burma totaled $13.54 billion. The CCP is currently planning to create a China–Burma economic corridor with 70 percent of the share held by the Chinese side. This includes a deep-water port for trade access to the Indian Ocean, and the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone industrial park. [50] [51]

c. Strategy in Europe: ‘Divide and Conquer’

Europe was at the center of the confrontation between the free world and the communist camp during the Cold War. The United States and Western European nations maintained a close alliance via NATO. To drive a wedge between Europe and the United States, the CCP adopted a strategy of dividing and conquering European countries. Accordingly, the Party adapted its strategy to suit local conditions as it gradually penetrated and developed influence in Europe. In recent years, the differences between Europe and the United States on many major issues have become increasingly apparent. The CCP has had a hand in this.

During the 2008 financial crisis, the CCP exploited weaker European economies that were in urgent need of foreign investment. The Party injected large sums of money into these countries in exchange for compromises on issues such as international rule of law and human rights. It used this method to create and expand the divisions among European countries and then reaped the benefits. Countries targeted by the CCP include Greece, Spain, Italy, and Hungary.

The CCP invested heavily in Greece during the sovereign debt crisis, exchanging money for political influence, and using Greece as an opening for building more influence in Europe. Within a few years, the CCP obtained a thirty-five-year concession for the second and third container terminals of Piraeus Port, Greece’s largest port, and took over the main transshipment hub at the port.

In May 2017, China and Greece signed a three-year action plan covering railways, ports, airport network construction, power-energy networks, and power-plant investments. [52] The CCP’s investment has already seen political returns. Since 2016, Greece, a member of the European Union, has repeatedly opposed EU proposals that would criticize the Chinese regime’s policies and human rights record. In August 2017, a commentary published by The New York Times said, “Greece has embraced the advances of China, its most ardent and geopolitically ambitious suitor.” [53]

In 2012, when the CCP initiated what would become the “17+1” cooperation framework, Hungary was the first country to join the initiative. It was also the first European country to sign an OBOR agreement with China. In 2017, bilateral trade volume between China and Hungary exceeded $10 billion. Like Greece, Hungary has repeatedly opposed EU criticism of the CCP’s human rights abuses. The president of the Czech Republic hired a wealthy Chinese businessman to be his personal adviser and has kept his distance from the Dalai Lama. [54]

Among the sixteen countries included in the framework , eleven are EU countries, and five are non-EU. Additionally, many have a history of communist rule and have preserved ideological and organizational traces of those regimes. To some extent, conforming to the CCP’s demands comes naturally to the post-communist elites.

Europe consists of many small countries, making it infeasible for any one country to compete with the CCP. The Party has used this to handle each government individually, intimidating them into staying silent on China’s human rights abuses and pernicious foreign policy.

The most typical example is Norway. In 2010, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee awarded the Peace Prize to an incarcerated Chinese dissident. The CCP swiftly punished Norway by preventing it from exporting salmon to China, among other forms of retaliation. Six years later, relations between the two countries were “normalized,” but Norway has remained silent on human rights issues in the PRC. [55]

The traditional Western European powers have also felt the growing influence of the CCP. Direct Chinese investment in Germany has grown substantially since 2010. In 2019, the PRC was Germany’s largest trading partner for the fourth consecutive year. In 2016, mainland Chinese and Hong Kong investors acquired fifty-six German companies, with investment reaching a high of 11 billion euros. These mergers and acquisitions allowed Chinese companies to quickly enter the market and acquire advanced Western technology, brands, and other assets. [56] The Hoover Institution, a US think tank, labeled these tactics as “weaponized” investment. [57]

The industrial city of Duisburg in western Germany has become the European transit hub for OBOR. Eighty percent of trains from China transit through Duisburg before heading to other European countries. The city has also inked a deal with Huawei to become a “smart city.” The mayor of Duisburg has called the city Germany’s “China City.” [58]

In dealing with France, the CCP has long used a strategy of “transaction diplomacy.” For example, when then-Party leader Jiang Zemin visited France in 1999, he signed a deal for more than two dozen Airbus aircraft, worth a combined fifteen billion francs. This massive sale led the French government to support China’s admission to the World Trade Organization.

Following the Tiananmen Square massacre, France became the first Western country to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership with mainland China. The French president at the time was the first in the West to oppose criticism of the PRC at the annual conference of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, the first to advocate strongly for the lifting of the EU arms embargo on China, and the first head of a Western government to praise the CCP. [59] In addition, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the CCP established large-scale Chinese Culture Years in France to promote communist ideology under the guise of cultural exchange. [60]

The United Kingdom, traditionally a great power and an important ally of the United States, is also one of the CCP’s most prized targets. On September 15, 2016, the British government officially approved the construction of the Hinkley Point C unit nuclear power plant in Somerset, England. The government is paying for the plant through a joint venture with China and a French consortium. [61]

The project was severely criticized by experts, including engineers, physicists, environmentalists, China experts, and business analysts, who highlighted the massive hidden risks it posed to British national security. Nick Timothy, the ex-chief of staff to Prime Minister Theresa May, pointed out that security experts were “worried that the Chinese could use their role to build weaknesses into computer systems which will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will.” [62]

As in other parts of the world, the methods the Chinese regime uses to expand its influence in Europe are pervasive and legion. They include acquiring European high-tech companies; controlling the shares of important ports; bribing retired politicians to praise the CCP’s platform; coaxing sinologists to sing the praises of the CCP; penetrating universities, think tanks, and research institutes, and so on. [63] For years, the long-established British newspaper The Daily Telegraph carried a monthly insert, China Watch, produced by the English-language edition of the CCP-controlled China Daily. Beijing paid the British newspaper up to 750,000 pounds a year to run the inserts, which featured articles glorifying the Chinese regime. [64]

The CCP’s activities in Europe have caused great misgivings among researchers. The Global Public Policy Institute and the Mercator Institute for China Studies published a research report in 2018 exposing the CCP’s infiltration activities in Europe. It states:

China commands a comprehensive and flexible influencing toolset, ranging from the overt to the covert, primarily deployed across three arenas: political and economic elites, media and public opinion, and civil society and academia. In expanding its political influence, China takes advantage of the one-sided openness of Europe. Europe’s gates are wide open whereas China seeks to tightly restrict access of foreign ideas, actors and capital.

The effects of this asymmetric political relationship are beginning to show within Europe. European states increasingly tend to adjust their policies in fits of “preemptive obedience” to curry favor with the Chinese side. Political elites within the European Union (EU) and in the European neighborhood have started to embrace Chinese rhetoric and interests, including where they contradict national and/or European interests. EU unity has suffered from Chinese divide and rule tactics, especially where the protection and projection of liberal values and human rights are concerned. Beijing also benefits from the “services” of willing enablers among European political and professional classes who are happy to promote Chinese values and interests. Rather than only China trying to actively build up political capital, there is also much influence courting on the part of those political elites in EU member states who seek to attract Chinese money or to attain greater recognition on the global plane. [65]

In addition to political, economic, and cultural infiltration in Europe, the CCP has also engaged in various forms of espionage. On October 22, 2018, the French newspaper Le Figaro carried an exclusive series of special reports that revealed the CCP’s various espionage activities in France. This included using business social-networking websites, especially LinkedIn, to recruit French people to provide information to the CCP for the purpose of infiltrating France’s political, economic, and strategic realms, and for gaining extensive insider knowledge in specific situations. The report also said that such cases were only the tip of the iceberg of the CCP’s espionage operations in France. [66] The CCP’s purpose is the large-scale plunder of sensitive information regarding the French state and its economic assets. Similar espionage activities have also taken place in Germany. [67]

d. ‘Colonizing’ Africa With the ‘Chinese Model’

After World War II, many African countries underwent decolonization and gained independence. The region gradually lost the West’s attention, and technology and capital were transferred to China. Strengthened by these resources, the CCP encroached on African countries, infiltrating their politics, economies, and societies and steadily replacing what Western sovereign powers had set up.

On one hand, the CCP has wooed African states under the banner of aiding those countries’ development, creating a united front against the United States and other free countries in the United Nations. On the other hand, through economic bribery and military aid, the CCP has relentlessly manipulated African governments and opposition groups, controlling the affairs of African countries while imposing the communist Chinese model and its values on them.

The CCP-controlled Export-Import Bank of China loaned $67.2 billion to African countries from 2001 to 2010. Superficially, the loans did not appear to come with political conditions, and the interest rates were relatively low. However, because the loan agreements used natural resources as collateral, the CCP effectively obtained the rights to extract massive amounts of resources from those countries.

In 2003, the loan provided by the Export-Import Bank of China to Angola used crude oil as collateral. The following situation developed, as outlined in Serge Michel and Michel Beuret’s book China Safari: On the Trail of Beijing’s Expansion in Africa:

There are Chinese to drill the oil and then pump it into the Chinese pipeline guarded by a Chinese strongman on his way to a port built by the Chinese, where it is loaded onto Chinese tankers headed for China. Chinese laborers to build the roads and bridges and the gigantic dam that has displaced tends of thousands of small [land]holders; Chinese to grow Chinese food so other Chinese need eat only Chinese vegetables with their imported Chinese staples; Chinese to arm a government committing crimes against humanity; and Chinese to protect that government and stick up for it in the UN Security Council. [68]

In 2016, China became Africa’s biggest trading partner and foreign direct investor. [69] In Africa, the CCP’s management model has been roundly criticized for its many ills: low wages, poor working conditions, shoddy products, “tofu-dreg engineering” (a term referring to the poor workmanship of buildings in China’s Sichuan Province, which led to many deaths following the 2008 earthquake), environmental pollution, bribery of government officials, and other corrupt practices. China’s mining operations in Africa also frequently meet with protests from locals.

Michael Sata, former president of Zambia, said during his presidential campaign in 2007: “We want the Chinese to leave and the old colonial rulers to return. They exploited our natural resources, too, but at least they took good care of us. They built schools, taught us their language, and brought us the British civilization. … At least Western capitalism has a human face; the Chinese are only out to exploit us.” [70] In Zambia, Chinese influence can be seen everywhere. Sata was faced with no choice but to make deals with the CCP. Upon taking office, he immediately met with the PRC ambassador, and in 2013, he visited China.

Sudan was one of the earliest bases that the CCP established in Africa, and over the past twenty years, the CCP’s investment in this country has grown exponentially. In addition to Sudan’s abundant oil reserves, its strategic port at the Red Sea was vital to the CCP’s plans. In the 1990s, when the international community isolated Sudan because of its support for terrorism and radical Islam, the CCP took advantage and rapidly became Sudan’s largest trading partner, purchasing most of its oil exports. [71] The investment by the CCP helped Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir’s totalitarian regime survive and develop despite sanctions. The PLA also exported weapons to Sudan during this period, indirectly facilitating the Darfur genocide in Sudan beginning in 2003.

In the international community, the CCP played a two-faced role: While China sent out a peacekeeping team to the UN to mediate the conflict in Sudan, Beijing also openly invited Bashir to China, although he was wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The CCP declared that no matter how the world changed, no matter what the situation was in Sudan, that China would always be Sudan’s friend. [72]

The CCP expends considerable effort on wooing developing nations. The Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was established in 2000, with its first ministerial conference held in Beijing. During this inaugural meeting, then-CCP head Jiang announced debt relief of 10 billion yuan for poor countries in Africa. In 2006, when Beijing hosted the FOCAC summit, the CCP not only announced debt waivers for forty-four countries, but also pledged $10 billion in funding, credit, scholarships, and various aid projects. [73] During the 2015 summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, the PRC announced that it would provide $60 billion to work with African countries to carry out ten major cooperation plans. [74] On August 28, 2018, the PRC vice minister of commerce noted that “97 percent of products from thirty-three of the least-developed African countries have zero tariffs.” [75] On September 3, 2018, during the 2018 summit, the CCP again pledged that it would provide Africa with $60 billion of no-strings-attached aid, interest-free loans, and project-specific capital and investment. At the same time, the CCP promised that for African countries with diplomatic relations with mainland China, it would cancel their inter-government debts that matured at the end of 2018. [76]

When he was prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zanawi established a Five-Year Plan for Ethiopia following China’s example. The organization and structure of the country’s ruling party at the time, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), also bore a striking resemblance to the CCP. An anonymous source within the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that many high-level officials in the EPRDF had traveled to China to study and undergo training, and that the children of many important officials also went to China for their education. It was even more apparent at the ministerial level, where virtually every official was reading The Selected Writings of Mao Zedong. [77]

In March 2013, at the BRICS summit, the Ethiopian prime minister stated that China was both a trading partner and a development model for Ethiopia. Today, Ethiopia is called Africa’s “New China.” Its internet monitoring and censorship, the totalitarian nature of its government, its media control, and the like are all cast from the same communist mold as China’s. [78] The PRC has also held training sessions targeted at leaders and government officials from other African nations.

Yun Sun, co-director of the China Program at the Washington-based Stimson Center, said:

They organized this kind of political training with three objectives in mind. First, that the CCP’s regime is legitimate — it is attempting to tell the world how the CCP has successfully managed China and how this success could be replicated for developing countries. Second, the CCP seeks to promote the experience China had in its development, during the so-called “exchange of ideas on how to govern the country.” Although the CCP is not explicitly “exporting revolution,” it is certainly exporting its ideological approach. The third objective is to strengthen exchanges between China and Africa. [79]

After several decades of painstaking effort, through commerce and trade, the CCP gained a strong foothold in Africa’s economy. By using economic incentives, it has bought off a number of African governments, such that officials in those countries follow Beijing’s every instruction. A scholar in the PRC establishment declared: “China’s progress over the past forty years has proven that it doesn’t need to do what the West did to achieve success. … The impact of this on Africa is beyond what you can imagine.” [80]

e. Advancing Into Latin America

Being geographically close to the United States, Latin America has historically been within the United States’ sphere of influence. Although a number of socialist regimes appeared in Latin America when the tide of communism swept over the world during the mid-twentieth century, those influences ultimately did not amount to a significant threat to the United States’ role in the region.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the CCP began to target Latin America. Under the banner of “South to South cooperation,” it started to infiltrate all areas of society in the region, penetrating areas like economy, trade, military, diplomacy, culture, and the like. The governments of many Latin American countries, such as Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, and Bolivia, were already hostile toward the United States, and the CCP made full use of this when it extended its influence across the Pacific, further aggravating the tensions these nations had with the United States and reinforcing their anti-American stance.

The CCP’s overtures in Latin America have far exceeded the gains made by the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Its support for socialist and left-leaning regimes in the region lay the groundwork for long-term confrontation with the United States.

First, the CCP used foreign trade and investment to expand its influence in Latin America. According to a report from the US-based think tank Brookings Institution, in 2000, mainland Chinese trade with Latin America was $12 billion, but by 2013, it had ballooned to more than $260 billion, an increase of more than twenty times. Prior to 2008, Chinese loan commitments didn’t exceed $1 billion, but in 2010, they had increased to $37 billion. [81] From 2005 to 2016, the PRC pledged to loan $141 billion to Latin American countries. Today, Chinese loans have exceeded those from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank combined. The CCP also promised in 2015 that it would provide Latin America with $250 billion in direct investment by 2025 and that bilateral trade between China and Latin America would reach $500 billion.

Latin America is currently China’s second-largest investment target, after Asia. [82] China is the top trading partner to the three largest economies in Latin America — Brazil, Chile, and Peru — and the second-largest for Argentina, Costa Rica, and Cuba. With highway construction in Ecuador, port projects in Panama, and a planned fiber-optic cable running from China to Chile, the CCP’s influence throughout Latin America is clear. [83]

All the while, the CCP has deployed its state companies to turn Latin America into its resource base, including Baosteel’s vast investment in Brazil and Shougang’s control over iron mines in Peru. The CCP also has shown great interest in Ecuador’s oil and Venezuela’s oil and gold mines.

In the military domain, the CCP has been stepping up its infiltration of Latin America in both scope and depth. Jordan Wilson, a researcher with the US–China Economic and Security Review Commission, found that since the mid-2000s, the CCP had progressed from low-level military sales to high-end military sales, reaching nearly $100 million in exports by 2010. Starting in the 2000s, the CCP substantially increased its military exports to Latin American countries. The recipients of these arms sales were anti-US regimes, most notably Venezuela. At the same time, there has been an increase in military training exchanges and joint military exercises. [84]

The CCP is rapidly developing ties with Latin America across diplomatic, economic, cultural, and military dimensions. In 2015, new requirements outlined in a defense white paper by the CCP “specifically assign the PLA to ‘actively participate in both regional and international security cooperation and effectively secure China’s overseas interests.’”

On the diplomatic front, due to the CCP’s incentives and threats, a number of countries have chosen to sever diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and instead embrace the communist PRC. In June 2017, Panama announced that it had ended diplomatic relations with Taiwan and now recognized “only one China.” Three years earlier, the CCP had started actively planning to invest in Panama’s infrastructure, such as ports, railways, and highways, with the total amount of investment reaching about $24 billion. [85] China has already acquired control over both ends of the Panama Canal, which is of great international strategic importance.

The CCP has also invested close to $30 billion in El Salvador’s La Union port. In July 2018, the US ambassador to El Salvador warned in El Salvador’s El Diario De Hoy newspaper that Chinese investment in the port had a military objective and deserved close attention. [86]

On the cultural front, by the beginning of 2018, the CCP had established thirty-nine Confucius Institutes and eleven Confucius Classrooms in Latin America and the Caribbean, with total enrollment exceeding 50,000. [87] Confucius Institutes have been identified as institutions used by the CCP for spying, as well as for transmitting Communist Party culture and ideology under the guise of traditional Chinese culture.

The CCP’s expansion and infiltration into Latin America is a serious threat to the United States. By using access to the Chinese market and dependence on economic investment and military aid to sway the policies of Latin American governments, China is able to pull them into its own sphere of influence and pit them against the United States. The canals, ports, railways, and communications facilities the CCP builds are all important tools that will be used to expand and establish its global hegemony.

f. The CCP’s Growing Military Capabilities

As China’s military power has developed, it has become more aggressive in areas such as the South China Sea. In 2009, Chinese vessels followed and harassed a US surveillance ship (the USNS Impeccable) while the latter was conducting routine operations in international waters there. [88] A similar incident took place in international waters in the Yellow Sea when Chinese vessels repeatedly came within thirty yards of the USNS Victorious, forcing it to make a dangerous sudden stop. [89] In September 2018, a Chinese warship conducted aggressive maneuvers warning the USS Decatur to depart the area. The Chinese ship approached within forty-five yards of the bow of the Decatur, forcing the American vessel to maneuver to prevent a collision. [90]

The CCP revealed its military ambitions long ago. Its strategy is to move from being a land power to being a maritime superpower and eventually establishing hegemony over both. In 1980, Beijing’s strategy was to perform active defense, and its focus was mainly on defending its own borders. At the time, its main adversary was the Soviet Army. In 2013, Beijing’s frontline defense turned into active offense for the purpose of expanding its frontline. It proposed “strategic offense as an important type of active defense.” [91]

The US Department of Defense stated in an annual report to Congress in 2018:

China’s maritime emphasis and attention to missions guarding its overseas interests have increasingly propelled the PLA beyond China’s borders and its immediate periphery. The PLAN’s [the Chinese navy’s] evolving focus — from “offshore waters defense” to a mix of “offshore waters defense” and “open seas protection” — reflects the high command’s expanding interest in a wider operational reach. China’s military strategy and ongoing PLA reform reflect the abandonment of its historically land-centric mentality. Similarly, doctrinal references to “forward edge defense” that would move potential conflicts far from China’s territory suggest PLA strategists envision an increasingly global role. [92]

The PRC has built islands and militarized reef islets in the South China Sea, equipping them with airports, shore-based aircraft, and missiles. It fortified three strategically important islets, namely Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef, with anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and airfields. The islands essentially serve as stationary aircraft carriers that can be used in the event of military conflict. At the strategic level, the PLA navy is capable of breaking through the boundaries of the island chain that stretches from the Kuril Islands in the north to the islands of Taiwan and Borneo in the south, giving it the capability to fight in the open ocean.

Lawrence Sellin, retired US Army colonel and military commentator, wrote in 2018: “China is now attempting to extend its international influence beyond the South China Sea by linking to a similar framework for dominance in the northern Indian Ocean. If permitted to complete the link, China could be in an unassailable position to exert authority over roughly one-half of the global GDP.” [93]

The dominance of the South China Sea isn’t an issue of territory, but of global strategy. Each year, close to $5 trillion in merchandise moves through the South China Sea. [94] For China, its Maritime Silk Road begins with the South China Sea, and an estimated 80 percent of its oil imports will travel by sea. [95] Peacekeeping in the South China Sea following World War II fell to the United States and its allies, which the Chinese regime sees as a major challenge to its aims.

M. Taylor Fravel, associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote that since 1949, China has engaged in twenty-three territorial disputes with its neighbors. It settled seventeen of these disputes. In fifteen of these settlements, Beijing offered substantial compromises on the allocation of disputed territory. But when it comes to issues in the South China Sea, since the 1950s, even when the Chinese navy was militarily insignificant, it has taken an uncompromising approach and has claimed indisputable sovereignty over the region. China has never used such absolute language in other territorial disputes.

Fravel listed several reasons for China’s strong stance on South China Sea issues. “China views offshore islands such as the [Spratly Islands] as strategic. From these islands, China can claim jurisdiction over adjacent waters that might contain significant natural resources and even jurisdiction over some activities of foreign naval vessels,” he said. “South China Sea outcrops can also be developed into forward outposts for projecting military power. … They might also aid China’s submarine force by preventing other states from tracking Chinese submarines that seek to enter the Western Pacific from the South China Sea.” [96]

The Chinese regime’s aggressive and expansionary actions in the South China Sea, especially the steps it has taken in recent years to change the status quo, have heightened military tensions in the greater region. In reaction, “Japan, of course, has reversed a decade of declining military outlays, while India has revived stalled naval modernization,” wrote author and geostrategist Brahma Chellaney in 2018. [97] Masking its efforts with the excuse of safe passage for energy and freight, China’s active expansion in the South China Sea has tipped the balance of power in the region and increases the possibility of military conflict. Geoscientist Scott Montgomery of the University of Washington pointed out that “Chinese perception of the [South China Sea] as a security concern has led to an erosion of security in the region.” [98] Western scholars believe that Chinese military officials are looking at how to project power ever farther abroad. In 2017, the PLA established its first overseas military base in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa. [99]

The CCP regime maintains the largest army in the world, with two million active personnel, according to a 2019 International Institute for Strategic Studies report. [100] The PLA also has the largest ground force in the world, the largest number of warships, the third-most naval tonnage, and a massive air force. It has a nuclear strike capability consisting of intercontinental ballistic missiles, ballistic-missile submarines, and strategic bombers.

Communist China’s military expansion is not limited to the traditional divisions of land, sea, and air; it is also making advances in the realms of space and electromagnetic warfare.

The Chinese regime also has 1.7 million personnel in the People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary organization primarily tasked with maintaining internal order. Like the PLA, the organization is under the unified leadership of the CCP Central Military Commission; in addition to this the CCP also maintains a large number of reserve and militia units. The Party’s military doctrine has always stressed the importance of “people’s war.” Under the CCP’s totalitarian system, it can quickly redirect all available resources for military use in the event of war. This means that the CCP has a pool of over a billion people from which it can draft huge numbers of people. Even overseas Chinese factor into the CCP’s military and intelligence strategy; in 2017, the PRC passed a “national intelligence law” demanding all Chinese citizens assist the Communist Party, no matter where they reside.

China’s GDP increased rapidly between 1997 and 2007. The PLA ground forces now have thousands of modern main battle tanks. The PLA Navy has two aircraft carriers in its fleet and is building more. Ninety percent of PLA Air Force fighters are of the fourth generation, and the CCP has begun to introduce fifth-generation fighters.

In early 2017, the PRC announced a 6.5 percent inflation-adjusted increase in its annual military budget to $154.3 billion. Analysis of data from 2008 through 2017 indicates Beijing’s official military budget grew at an annual average of 8 percent in inflation-adjusted terms over that period. [101] Observers estimate that the CCP’s actual military spending is twice as much as what is officially acknowledged. Aside from this, the military strength of the regime is not fully reflected in military spending because its actual military expenditure is higher than the public figures, and the CCP can requisition many civilian resources and manpower at its discretion. The entire industrial system can serve the needs of war, which means its true military capabilities far exceed official data and the usual estimates.

The CCP uses a broad range of espionage to catch up with the United States in technology. According to some estimates, more than 90 percent of espionage against the United States conducted via hacking comes from the PRC, and the CCP’s networks infiltrate large American companies and the military, stealing technology and knowledge that the Chinese cannot develop independently. [102]

The CCP has built a global system consisting of more than thirty Beidou (Big Dipper) navigation satellites, with global GPS military positioning capabilities. In conjunction with this, the PLA is fielding increasingly advanced combat-capable drones. At the 2018 Zhuhai Airshow in China, the debut of the CH-7 Rainbow drone caught the attention of military experts. The Rainbow series signifies that China has caught up in the technology for developing armed drones. A large number of the earlier CH-4 Rainbows have taken over the military markets of Jordan, Iraq, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan, countries that were restricted from purchasing armed drones from the United States. [103] The latest CH-7 Rainbow, in some ways, is as well-equipped as the X-47B, the best drone the United States has to offer. [104] A video played at the airshow simulated the drones combating the enemy, which was clearly the US military. [105] The drones’ small size allows them to be deployed from a variety of platforms, including civilian vessels, which could give the CCP an advantage over Taiwan in a potential conflict. [106] A large number of aerial drones can form clusters under the control of satellites and artificial intelligence, making them useful in regional and asymmetrical conflicts.

The stealth fighter Chinese J-20, also unveiled at the Zhuhai Air Show, resembles the American F-22, while the Chinese J-31 appears modeled on the F-35. Though still lagging behind the US military in many respects, the PRC defense industry is closing the gap with the United States in developing modern jet fighters.

In terms of tactics, the PLA focuses on asymmetric capabilities: asymmetric warfare, asymmetric strategy, and asymmetric weapons. [107] Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, described China as a “peer competitor.” He said that China is not trying to match America’s firepower one-to-one; rather, it is trying to catch up with the United States by building critical asymmetric capabilities, including the use of anti-ship missiles and capabilities in submarine warfare. Because of this, he warned that “there is no guarantee that the United States would win a future conflict with China.” [108]

One such asymmetrical weapon is the Dongfeng 21D anti-ship ballistic missile. Traditionally, ballistic missiles are used for delivering nuclear warheads to stationary targets such as cities and military bases, but the Dongfeng 21D is a unique weapon intended for use against US aircraft carrier battle groups at sea. The CCP has also followed the Soviet Cold War-era strategy of deploying large numbers of cruise missiles in an effort to offset US naval supremacy. In 2018, the PLA revealed its land-based YJ-12B supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, known as the “aircraft carrier killer.” It has drawn a 550-kilometer “death zone” in the western Pacific, in which American carrier battle groups will be susceptible to ultra low-altitude saturation strikes.

Armed with missiles like the Dongfeng 21D and the YJ-12, the PLA does not have to match the US Navy in one-to-one strength — such as the number of deployable aircraft carriers — to be able to deny it regional access to the Western Pacific.

Following the rapid expansion of its military power, the PRC has become a huge weapons exporter to the world’s authoritarian regimes, such as North Korea and Iran. On the one hand, the goal is to expand its military alliances, and on the other hand, to disperse and counter US military power. To this end, the CCP encourages hatred against the United States, finding common cause with other anti-American regimes.

At the same time, the Party leadership has adopted terrorist military theories such as unrestricted warfare. It advocates the necessity of war by saying that “war is not far from us; it is the birthplace of the ‘Chinese century.’” It legitimizes violence and terror with sayings such as “death is the driving force for the advancement of history.” It justifies aggression with the sayings “there is no right to development without the right to war” and “the development of one country poses a threat to another — this is the general rule of world history.” [109]

Zhu Chenghu, a major general and the dean of the PRC’s National Defense University, publicly stated in 2005 that if the United States intervened in a war in the Taiwan Strait, China would preemptively use nuclear weapons to raze hundreds of cities in the United States, even if all of China to the east of Xi’an (a city located at the western edge of China’s traditional boundaries) were destroyed as a consequence. [110] Zhu’s statements were made largely to probe the reactions of the international community.

It is important to be aware that the CCP’s military strategies are always subordinate to its political needs, and that the regime’s military ambitions form only one dimension of its broader scheme to establish communist hegemony over the entire globe. [111]

20 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page