Michael Pillsbury, director of Hudson’s Center for Chinese Strategy, said this report raised a key concept of “Western enablers” of the Communist Party, whom he said not only sing high praises to China but also help China understand the debates that it wants to influence.
The warnings about China are nothing new in the West, but this time they have employed a more systematic and exaggerative method.
Every Chinese knows that China is still focused on “anti-penetration” rather than “infiltrating the West.” The West is still aggressively trying to influence the Chinese society, while most Chinese concede that China at present still doesn’t have the soft power to counter, and it’s needless to build some phony “ideological stronghold” in the US.
China is indeed trying to influence some Westerners. However, the sole purpose is to boost friendly relations between the two sides and reduce the Western public’s bias against China. Isn’t this the way things should be done in international relations? Is there a single country that doesn’t work on this mission or set aside a budget for it?
China’s Confucius Institutes in Western countries are similar to the Goethe Institutes of Germany and Spain’s Instituto Cervantes. China has sponsored the research of a few American scholars. But how many research projects have been funded by American foundations? While some people in China have called for better regulation of these projects, the Chinese public has not openly condemned those programs.
The logic of some Americans will lead to the belief that the Chinese should condemn the US move to establish Tsinghua University using the Boxer Indemnity, and that most China-US cultural exchanges should be canceled, including Hollywood collaborations. Starbucks will also be categorized as an under-the-table transmitter of American culture and values.
There hasn’t been any advocacy in the Chinese government to “spread the Chinese model,” as it’s one of China’s diplomatic principles to maintain cultural and political diversity. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hawked Western political systems in Africa just a few days ago. It is absurd that Pompeo’s declaration and the denunciation of “Western enablers of Communists” both become “mainstream” voices in the US.