China is increasingly aiming to infiltrate and throw its weight around on the global stage with its operations becoming more like those associated with Russia, a recent report by a think tank linked to the French military says.
The Institut de Recherche Stratégique de l’Ecole Militaire (IRSEM) or French Military School Strategic Research Institute, an independent unit of the country’s armed forces, said it had noted a change in the conduct of the Communist Party of China (CCP) regime.
“Pendant longtemps, on a pu dire que la Chine, contrairement à la Russie, cherchait davantage à être aimée que crainte (For a long time, we could say that China, contrary to Russia, sought more to be loved rather than feared),” the report, published last week, said.
But it adds that Beijing’s “operations to influence have been considerably stepped up over the past years and its methods look more and more like those applied by Moscow.” Paul Charon and Jean-Baptiste Jeangene Vilmer, experts in Chinese politics and foreign affairs, said the research paper that is over 600 pages long.
The French report outlines different areas where Chinese authorities have sought to expand as in the media sector, where China has invested E 1.3 billion ($ 1.52 billion) a year since 2008 “to better control its image in the world”.
The French report says China exercises economic coercion notably by denying market access to foreign investors, imposing embargos and tariffs as well as organizing boycotts. China slapped major trade restrictions on Australian goods in 2020 after Canberra called for an investigation into Covid-19.
Moreover, the French think-tank report claims that Beijing attempted to influence the outcome of elections in other countries over the past decade — reportedly in at least 10 elections in seven countries. This is something that US intelligence officials have accused Russia of, vociferously during the 2016 presidential election for the White House.
Leaders of the US, India, Japan and Australia had earlier deplored the coercion in international relations. Without mentioning China, the four countries had said they were committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific region that is “undaunted by coercion.”
France has actually been one of the most cynical in the West on US efforts to limit some of the actions of China.
In February, Macron had said: “A situation to join all together against China, this is a scenario of the highest possible conflict.” He had added, “This one, for me, is counterproductive.”