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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: Wired

Publication Date: July 27, 2022

How Tor Is Fighting—and Beating—Russian Censorship

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Europe, Ukraine, Eurasia, Russia

Author: Matt Burgess

View Resource: How Tor Is Fighting—and Beating—Russian Censorship

Russia’s efforts to block Tor came in two flavors—the technical and the political—and extended beyond its own borders. In some areas of occupied Ukraine, internet connections were being rerouted through Russian networks, and that brought censorship and surveillance with it.

Source: Democracy Paradox

Publication Date: July 25, 2022

Aynne Kokas on the Intersection Between Surveillance Capitalism and Chinese Sharp Power

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Global

View Resource: Aynne Kokas on the Intersection Between Surveillance Capitalism and Chinese Sharp Power

Consumers can be exploited by companies from any number of countries due to a lack of data privacy regulations. The risk of partnering with Chinese firms stands out, however, due to the government’s established framework that pressures firms into storing data in China and sharing it with regulators.

Source: Vice

Publication Date: July 24, 2022

Revealed: Documents Show How Roblox Planned to Bend to Chinese Censorship

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: North America, United States, Asia-Pacific, China

Author: Joseph Cox

View Resource: Revealed: Documents Show How Roblox Planned to Bend to Chinese Censorship

In partnering with Chinese tech firm Tencent to launch a version of its game in China, video game developer Roblox had to comply with Chinese censorship laws—for example, maps created in the game had to recognize Beijing’s claim of self-ruled Taiwan —and host user data on local servers.

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: Asia-Pacific, Australia

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: Asia-Pacific, Taiwan

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: Europe, Czechia, North Macedonia, Lithuania, Hungary

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: Bloomberg

Publication Date: July 10, 2022

Brands Apologize Quickly to China Consumers, Except on Xinjiang

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Global

Author: Jinshan Hong, Yasufumi Saito

View Resource: Brands Apologize Quickly to China Consumers, Except on Xinjiang

With Asia’s biggest economy facing off with the U.S. and others on everything from trade to cybersecurity and human rights to origins of the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese shoppers have become an economically powerful arm of Beijing’s political agenda, hurting revenue growth for foreign companies.

Source: Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Publication Date: July 5, 2022

Cultivating Friendly Forces: The Chinese Communist Party’s Influence Operations in the Xinjiang Diaspora

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Global, Asia-Pacific, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Middle East and North Africa, North America, Eurasia, Kyrgyzstan

Author: Lin Li, James Leibold

View Resource: Cultivating Friendly Forces: The Chinese Communist Party’s Influence Operations in the Xinjiang Diaspora

Through its united front system, the Chinese Communist Party mobilizes community organizations in the diaspora to counter international criticism of its repressive policies in Xinjiang while promoting its own policies and interests abroad.

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

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, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific

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: North America, United States

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, Tanzania, Zambia, Global, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mauritius

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: Europe, North Macedonia

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.