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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: Jerusalem Post

Publication Date: September 28, 2023

Sweden Accuses Iran of Targeted ‘Misinformation’ about Quran Burnings

Authoritarian Country: Iran, Russia

Affected Region: Europe, Sweden

Author: Seth J. Frantzman

View Resource: Sweden Accuses Iran of Targeted ‘Misinformation’ about Quran Burnings

Iran and Russia-backed disinformation campaigns have used recent Quran burnings to manipulate sentiments in Sweden. Fearing the effects of these malign efforts, the Swedish government has tasked its Agency for Psychological Defense with countering these campaigns.

Source: Foreign Policy Research Institute

Publication Date: September 18, 2023

China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Politics Over Economics

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Global

Author: Felix K. Chang

View Resource: China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Politics Over Economics

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been expected to enter a new phase following the PRC’s Third BRI Forum in October 2023. With over 150 countries participating in the BRI, China’s plans for its signature initiative have appeared increasingly political and less focused on infrastructure development.

Source: Middle East Institute

Publication Date: September 2, 2023

Iran Gleefully Eyes the Protests in Israel, Looking for Weaknesses to Exploit

Authoritarian Country: Iran

Affected Region: Middle East and North Africa, Israel

Author: Jason M. Brodsky

View Resource: Iran Gleefully Eyes the Protests in Israel, Looking for Weaknesses to Exploit

In addition to violent intervention through proxy militia groups, Iran has used cyber interference to exacerbate political rifts in Israeli society and advance Iranian interests. Iran-backed disinformation campaigns have misled high-level officials and target Israelis across the political spectrum.

Source: Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Publication Date: October 30, 2023

HispanTV Is Iran’s Propaganda Arm in Latin America; Why Is It Still Being Broadcast?

Authoritarian Country: Iran

Affected Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi, Marina Rosenberg

View Resource: HispanTV Is Iran’s Propaganda Arm in Latin America; Why Is It Still Being Broadcast?

HispanTV, Iran’s Spanish-language media outlet, has spread disinformation to influence global narratives surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict. The state of Iran has used HispanTV as a platform to defend Hamas, espouse antisemitic rhetoric, and glorify violence.

Source: The Diplomat

Publication Date: October 17, 2023

Indonesia, China Vow to Expand Economic Cooperation

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Asia-Pacific, Indonesia

Author: Sebastian Strangio

View Resource: Indonesia, China Vow to Expand Economic Cooperation

The third Belt and Road Forum, in October 2023, demonstrated that many Southeast Asian leaders see China as the key to their nations’ prosperity, helping them to build infrastructure and adopt new technologies. That dependence may discourage leaders from challenging China’s anti-democratic rhetoric.

Source: New York Times

Publication Date: October 11, 2018

Museums Forced to Reassess Saudi Ties Amid Uproar Over Journalist’s Fate

Authoritarian Country: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates

Affected Region: North America, United States

Author: Robin Pogrebin, Sopan Deb

View Resource: Museums Forced to Reassess Saudi Ties Amid Uproar Over Journalist’s Fate

Prominent New York museums have accepted funding from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi governments, even after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and despite labor concerns in the UAE. Most museums maintained these relationships after the murder, allowing the regimes’ influence to persist unchecked.

Source: Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

Publication Date: November 1, 2022

Documents Reveal Wagner’s Golden Ties to Sudanese Military Companies

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan

Author: Khadija Sharife, Lara Dihmis, Erin Klazar

View Resource: Documents Reveal Wagner’s Golden Ties to Sudanese Military Companies

Companies linked to Russia’s Wagner Group have maintained and expanded their influence in Sudan’s gold mining sector through a partnership with local military companies. In exchange for weapons and advisors, Wagner was given gold and mining rights, not subject to Western sanctions.

Source: The Diplomat

Publication Date: November 15, 2023

China’s Expanding Health Diplomacy in Indonesia

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Asia-Pacific, Indonesia

Author: Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, Yeta Purnama

View Resource: China’s Expanding Health Diplomacy in Indonesia

While the Chinese and Indonesian government began cooperating during the COVID-19 pandemic on vaccine distribution, Beijing has recently increased its investment in Indonesia’s health sector to push back against negative perceptions of China among a majority of Indonesians.

Source: Balkan Insight

Publication Date: March 28, 2023

Montenegro Signs Contract With Chinese Company to Build Coastal Highway

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Europe, Montenegro

Author: Samir Kajosevic

View Resource: Montenegro Signs Contract With Chinese Company to Build Coastal Highway

The government of Montenegro partnered with a Chinese corporation that is known for maintaining secrecy in other regional projects. This lack of accountability is characteristic of Chinese Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure projects.

Source: Center for European Policy Analysis

Publication Date: March 26, 2023

Europe Fights Back Against Chinese and Russian “Elite Capture”

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Europe, Italy

Author: Gabriele Carrer

View Resource: Europe Fights Back Against Chinese and Russian “Elite Capture”

China’s investments in European businesses opened opportunities for elite capture by offering jobs or board appointments to retired politicians and other influential individuals. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Italy has taken a more skeptical look at these investments.

Source: Foreign Policy Research Institute

Publication Date: March 22, 2023

China is Finally Making Progress on the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Eurasia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan

Author: Niva Yau, Tsz Yan

View Resource: China is Finally Making Progress on the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway

Beijing secured the rights to build a new railway linking Xinjiang with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan after many delays. The new project could advance China’s geopolitical interests and secure support among Central Asian elites for Chinese legitimacy claims in Xinjiang .

Publication Date: March 22, 2023

China, Russia Target Audiences Online With Deep Fakes, Replica Front Pages

Authoritarian Country: China, Russia

Affected Region: Global

Author: Liam Scott

View Resource: China, Russia Target Audiences Online With Deep Fakes, Replica Front Pages

Concern has grown over Russia and China’s use of AI to impersonate trusted international media outlets and personalities in bids to manipulate information around the globe. Researchers anticipate the volume and quality of deep fakes to intensify, contributing to a further erosion of trust in media.

Source: Al Jazeera

Publication Date: March 18, 2022

Why are Indonesians on Social Media so Supportive of Russia?

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Asia-Pacific, Indonesia

View Resource: Why are Indonesians on Social Media so Supportive of Russia?

Pro-Russian content regarding the war in Ukraine have dominated Indonesian social media. These sentiments are driven in part by resentment towards the United States, Russia’s academic diplomacy with Indonesia, and the Indonesian public’s personal identification with Putin’s strongman character.

Source: Balkan Insight

Publication Date: June 21, 2023

Social Controls: China- Style Surveillance is Coming to Serbia

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: Europe, Serbia

Author: Maja Bjelos

View Resource: Social Controls: China- Style Surveillance is Coming to Serbia

Serbian government and state-owned enterprises have increasingly adopted Chinese surveillance technologies capable of penetrating users’ devices and acquiring large amounts of data. Chinese technological influence in Serbia has risked individual privacy and freedoms.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Publication Date: June 20, 2023

U.S. Tracked Huawei, ZTE Workers at Suspected Chinese Spy Sites

Authoritarian Country: China

Affected Region: North America, United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Cuba

Author: Kate O’Keefe

View Resource: U.S. Tracked Huawei, ZTE Workers at Suspected Chinese Spy Sites

Employees of Chinese phone companies Huawei and ZTE were tied to suspected spy operations in Cuba. The companies’ specialization in technology like servers and network equipment could help obtain and transmit information to Chinese intelligence.