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Authoritarian advance: Responding to China's growing political influence in Europe

Report by MERICS and GPPi

Russian interference in the democratic processes in Europe and North America has received notable media attention, but Beijing’s political influence efforts in Europe have received less scrutiny.  The Chinese Communist Party has recently expanded its efforts to influence Europe’s political and economic elite, media and civil society, in order to promote its authoritarian ideals.  This development poses a significant challenge to liberal democracy as well as European values and interests.

In cooperation with the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), MERICS researchers have compiled a report on CCP-driven engagement in Europe titled “Authoritarian advance: Responding to China’s growing political influence in Europe.” The researchers included Thorsten Benner of GPPi and Jan Weidenfeld, Mareike Ohlberg, Lucrezia Poggetti and Kristin Shi-Kupfer of MERICS.

The report argues that European states need to act swiftly and decisively to inhibit the momentum of the CCP’s influence operations. Several steps are recommended, including: a stronger focus on leveraging the collective weight of EU member states, investing more resources into independent China expertise and providing alternatives to Chinese investments in Europe. The authors also call upon Europe to develop a flexible set of investment screening tools and to strengthen national and European security regimes, including cybersecurity and counter-intelligence.