While the Russian meddling in U.S. elections has been discussed the most in the past few years, it is the Chinese communists who are increasingly joining the league, said author Joshua Kurlantzick.
He is the author of “Beijing’s Global Media Offensive: China’s Uneven Campaign To Influence Asia and the World” and a senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Kurlantzick said that Meta, Google, and Twitter have found evidence of such Chinese influence operations over social media and warned of meddling in the midterm elections.
U.S. cybersecurity firm Mandiant said in an Oct. 26 report that a pro-Beijing influence campaign was targeting U.S. elections, including midterm elections.
“And that may lower the bar for Chinese operatives to become involved in a campaign, etc. And we saw that with the case of Fang, the alleged spy who became enmeshed in the Bay Area’s political scene ... she had some contacts with the Midwestern mayor. I think we’re gonna see a lot more of that,” he said.
Kurlantzick was referring to an alleged Chinese operative, Fang Fang or Christine Fang, who targeted local and up-and-coming politicians in the San Francisco Bay area and across the United States, according to media reports of 2020.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) was among Fang’s most significant targets.
“Pro-Beijing actors—including private media outlets controlled by owners sympathetic to Beijing—now dominate the United States’ Chinese-language television, print, and online media, a tactic China first perfected in New Zealand and Australia,” wrote Kurlantzick.
The CCP regime also pays major publications to publish “deceptive inserts” that are advertorials but are not marked as such, he said.
“(His eventual loss probably had something to do with the Chinese pressure but also with other political factors.) The U.S. Justice Department charged five Chinese intelligence agents operating in the United States with harassing Xiong Yan, another unnamed legislator, and other dissidents. Beijing seems undeterred by the charges,” he wrote.
Ken McCallum, the director general of the UK intelligence service, M15, had given the same warning during a joint appearance with FBI Director Christopher Wray in London in July.
“The widespread Western assumption that growing prosperity within China and increasing connectivity with the West would automatically lead to greater political freedom has been shown to be plain wrong,” McCallum said.
“But the Chinese Communist Party is interested in our democratic, media, and legal systems. Not to emulate them, sadly, but to use them for its gain.”