Foreign Policy is a liberal publication, but this article by Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, a member of Facebook’s oversight board, and a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for international organizations in the Obama administration, is worth reading: “Chinese Censorship Is Going Global.”
In late September, the businessman Bill Browder received an unusual alert from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office. Browder, an activist who champions sanctions against government officials complicit in human rights abuses in Russia and around the world, was warned not to travel to countries that honor extradition treaties with Hong Kong.
As the United States and its allies confront the challenge of rising global authoritarianism, they must come to grips with one of its most insidious dimensions: the growing reach of the world’s most powerful autocracy deep inside Western societies.
China is now flexing its powers to impose censorship, of hard and soft varieties, beyond its own borders. The new Hong Kong national security law, the basis for Britain’s admonition to Browder, provides for the indictment of anyone, anywhere, for speech seen as inimical to Chinese security interests. China’s diktats affect sports, Hollywood, the publishing world, media and journalism outlets, higher education, tech and social media companies, and more.
As Chinese interest in American basketball has skyrocketed in recent years, the industry has come under pressure to put Beijing’s sensibilities ahead of freedom of speech.
Hollywood filmmakers know well that access to the world’s largest film market is determined by Beijing authorities which, under the terms of the country’s 2016 Film Industry Promotion Law, favor portrayals that “transmit the glorious Chinese culture or promote core socialist values.”
To be fair, Hollywood would be willing to “promote core socialist values” even without pressure from the Chinese.
With China now, by some measures, the world’s largest book market, Western publishers and booksellers are facing growing incentives to suppress critical narratives and instead feature titles that bootlick Beijing.
China’s influence on Western higher education has implications for scientific research, technology, and understanding of China. China scholars in the West face knotty dilemmas over whether to withhold criticism or risk forfeiting visa access necessary to carry out their work. U.S. scholars have endured state-supported harassment for advocating the rights of Chinese minorities. Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes on Western campuses have been widely accused of stifling open inquiry on China-related subjects.
A third of all foreign students studying in the United States before the COVID-19 pandemic were Chinese, filling university tuition coffers.
That last point is a scandal. Many thousands of Chinese kids who could barely speak English have been carried as students by American universities because their rich Communist parents are willing to pay sticker-price tuition that hardly anyone else takes seriously. So our universities are widely beholden to the CCP.
There is more at the link, and the author’s proposed solutions are cautious. Nevertheless, I think the fact that even liberals are now concerned about the pernicious influence of the Chinese Communist Party on Western institutions is a good thing.
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