Politics & International Studies

Gauging Beijing’s diverse influence operations strategy

China influence strategy

China seeks to influence the opinions of civil societies in democratic countries which in turn would create pressures on the ruling governments to make changes to existing policies, says the author.


Sriparna Pathak, Associate Professor, Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana.


In December last year, China shocked the world by publishing a white paper titled ‘China: Democracy That Works”, especially as China is recognized globally as  anything but a democracy. Since Deng Xiaoping assumed the controls of power in the 1970s, China has been following what is known as socialism with Chinese characteristics, which saw a move away from the rigid commune system that was set in place under Mao Zedong. 

As part of Deng’s reforms, elements of the market were introduced in the economy. Despite an infusion of elements of capitalism, China chose to adhere politically to socialism, as the only political party-the Communist Party of China (CPC) was to be the only source of governance for the rest of eternity. 

The question that now emerges is whether China is actually willing to abort its adherence to socialism with Chinese characteristics? What needs to be remembered is that on July 1 in 2021, China celebrated 100 years of the existence of the CPC, and this in itself is a clear signal that neither is the one-party system going away any time soon, nor is China willing to move away from its model of governance. 

The answer to why China now claims to be a democracy lies in the fact that China under Xi Jinping seeks to shape not just narratives around international relations but also change meanings of political systems to suit its own narrow self-interests. China has long tried to show how democracies around the world are flawed and how its own systems of governance have successfully worked and are superior to those of its rivals in the liberal and democratic West. 

At the 19th Party Congress in 2019, Xi Jinping had even stated how developing countries could follow China’s model of governance, showing yet another sign that in the years to come as China actively starts increasing its influence operations around the world, it will focus heavily on showcasing how its system of governance is superior to that in the West.

Published in: ORCA (Organisation for Research on China and Asia).

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