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Browse resources on authoritarian sharp power and its effects on the integrity of institutions and globalized spaces.

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Source: Journal of Democracy

Publication Date: July 19, 2022

Combating Beijing’s Sharp Power: How Australia’s Civil Society Led the Way

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Australia, Asia-Pacific

Author: John Fitzgerald

View Resource: Combating Beijing’s Sharp Power: How Australia’s Civil Society Led the Way

Australian civil society was years ahead of the government and its agencies in exposing PRC surveillance and interference among local diaspora communities and in working to defend the rights of those belonging to these communities as equal citizens of Australia.

Source: Journal of Democracy

Publication Date: July 19, 2022

Combating Beijing’s Sharp Power: Taiwan’s Democracy Under Fire

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Taiwan, Asia-Pacific

Author: Ketty W. Chen

View Resource: Combating Beijing’s Sharp Power: Taiwan’s Democracy Under Fire

The Chinese Communist Party continues to launch influence operations against Taiwan, often using proxies to serve PRC aims. One factor working in Taiwan’s favor as it resists these efforts is the commitment of its robust and vibrant civil society to defending the island nation’s democracy.

Source: Journal of Democracy

Publication Date: July 19, 2022

Combating Beijing’s Sharp Power: Transparency Wins in Europe

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: North Macedonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Czechia, Europe

Author: Martin Hála

View Resource: Combating Beijing’s Sharp Power: Transparency Wins in Europe

Making friends among foreign political elites through united front work, “economic diplomacy,” corruption, and other means allows Beijing to repurpose coopted institutions for its own agenda, undermining democratic systems from within. It is the role of democratic civil society to expose these efforts.

Source: Swedish National China Centre

Publication Date: July 10, 2022

Purchasing with the Party: Chinese Consumer Boycotts of Foreign Companies, 2008-2021

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Global

Author: Viking Bohman, Hillevi Pårup

View Resource: Purchasing with the Party: Chinese Consumer Boycotts of Foreign Companies, 2008-2021

Consumer boycotts, including one-third which were found to be supported by party- or state-affiliated organizations, presented new challenges for foreign businesses seeking to capitalize on the significant purchasing power of Chinese citizens.

Source: Alliance for Securing Democracy

Publication Date: June 14, 2022

China and the Digital Information Stack in the Global South

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Jamaica, Asia-Pacific, Uganda, Burma, Thailand, Nigeria, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa

Author: Bryce Barros, Nathan Kohlenberg, Etienne Soula

View Resource: China and the Digital Information Stack in the Global South

To counter digital authoritarianism, civil society must learn how the PRC party-state uses its influence to shape, influence, control, surveil, and suppress information that is contrary to the PRC and Chinese Communist Party’s goals or critical of those institutions or other autocrats.

Source: Foreign Affairs

Publication Date: June 8, 2022

China’s Southern Strategy

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Middle East and North Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa

Author: Nadège Rolland

View Resource: China’s Southern Strategy

Chinese policymakers are using economic incentives to gain influence in the “global South” and sway votes in international fora. Countries with independent media, nongovernment organizations, and strong civil societies are more likely to resist attempts at corruption, co-optation, and coercion.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Publication Date: May 26, 2022

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Loses Chinese Investor Due to Pro-U.S. Messaging

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: United States, North America

Author: Erich Schwartzel

View Resource: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Loses Chinese Investor Due to Pro-U.S. Messaging

After putting up millions of dollars for a 12.5% stake in Top Gun: Maverick, Tencent backed out of the $170 million Paramount Pictures production over growing concern that Communist Party officials would disapprove of the company’s affiliation with a movie celebrating the American military.

Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Publication Date: May 23, 2022

Expansion or Contraction? How Putin’s War in Ukraine Affects His Efforts in Africa

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa, Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali

Author: Todd Prince

View Resource: Expansion or Contraction? How Putin’s War in Ukraine Affects His Efforts in Africa

The Kremlin’s goals in Africa included projecting itself as a great power, avoiding international isolation, eroding the luster of liberal democracy, and gaining access to strategic ports. But Russia’s drawn-out invasion of Ukraine risked undermining the Kremlin’s progress in Africa.

Source: LawFare

Publication Date: May 8, 2022

How China is Rewriting the Norms of Human Rights

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Sub-Saharan Africa, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Global, Zambia, Tanzania

Author: Tanner Larkin

View Resource: How China is Rewriting the Norms of Human Rights

By fashioning an illiberal, authoritarian “human rights” doctrine—and socializing it with foreign actors in regions like Africa—the Chinese Communist Party is turning international law into a means of propping up authoritarian regimes and undermining human rights defenders.

Source: Fighting False News Narratives (FN), Citizens Association MOST

Publication Date: May 8, 2022

The Immortal Regiment as Kremlin’s Piercer of Sharp Power in North Macedonia on Victory Day

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: North Macedonia, Europe

Author: Rosana Aleksoska, Darko Aleksov, Zlatko Dimitrioski, Zhivko Mickoski

View Resource: The Immortal Regiment as Kremlin’s Piercer of Sharp Power in North Macedonia on Victory Day

The so-called Immortal Regiment, an annual procession marking the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, is a tool used by the Russian embassy and its proxies in North Macedonia to distort historical facts and shape perceptions about current events, like Russia’s war in Ukraine and EU integration.

Source: Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

Publication Date: May 7, 2022

Fueling Secession, Promising Bitcoins: How a Russian Operator Urged Catalonian Leaders to Break With Madrid

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Europe, Spain

Author: Antonio Baquero et al.

View Resource: Fueling Secession, Promising Bitcoins: How a Russian Operator Urged Catalonian Leaders to Break With Madrid

Nikolai Sadovnikov, a diplomat who reportedly worked as a strategic adviser to the Russian foreign minister, offered Catalonians $500 billion to aid their attempts to secede from Spain. Kremlin-watchers have long warned that President Putin believes undermining European unity is in Russia’s interest.

Source: Visegrad Insight

Publication Date: April 27, 2022

Russia’s Digital Battleground: Polish Society

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Poland, Ukraine, Europe

View Resource: Russia’s Digital Battleground: Polish Society

Immediately after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the Polish online space was riddled with disinformation about fuel shortages, refugees, and Ukrainian statehood, among other themes. Disseminators of fake news adapted to real socio-political events in order to influence, fabricate, and even control them.

Source: The Guardian

Publication Date: April 24, 2022

Disney Is Refusing to Cut LGBTQ Scene in Doctor Strange 2, Saudi Arabia Says

Authoritarian Country: Saudi Arabia

Affected Region: United States, North America

Author: Sian Cain

View Resource: Disney Is Refusing to Cut LGBTQ Scene in Doctor Strange 2, Saudi Arabia Says

Disney declined Saudi Arabia’s requests to cut “LGBTQ references” from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as the movie was slated for release around the world. Advanced tickets were removed from sale in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar.

Source: Washington Post

Publication Date: April 20, 2022

He’s Pro-Russian, Anti-Zelensky and Rallying for Putin in West Africa

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Sub-Saharan Africa, Burkina Faso, Mali

Author: Danielle Paquette

View Resource: He’s Pro-Russian, Anti-Zelensky and Rallying for Putin in West Africa

Pro-Russian content surged in West Africa as Putin aimed to expand his country’s global influence and counter reputational damage during the war in Ukraine. Once sporadic and unsophisticated operations evolved to connect better with target audiences, especially in nations grappling with conflict.

Source: Atlantic Council

Publication Date: April 19, 2022

China’s Discourse Power Operations in the Global South: An Overview of Chinese Activities in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Middle East and North Africa, South Africa, Iran, Venezuela, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean

Author: Kenton Thibaut

View Resource: China’s Discourse Power Operations in the Global South: An Overview of Chinese Activities in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East

Case studies on South Africa, Venezuela, and Iran reveal evidence of a symbiotic relationship between Beijing’s efforts to enhance its discourse power—including by co-opting the voices of foreign leaders—and local governments’ efforts to weaken the checks and balances that civil society imposes.