Podcast

How Far Will China Go?

From buying influence at American universities to forcing Chinese nationals to return home, Beijing is expanding its political operations abroad.

China's President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the opening session of the Chinese Communist Party's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 18.  (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)
China's President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the opening session of the Chinese Communist Party's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 18. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

In January 2017, Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese businessman, was kidnapped from his hotel in Hong Kong and ferried to the mainland.

His case is not unique — China has kidnapped or forcibly repatriated dozens of people from around the world over the past two decades, Zach Dorfman reports in Foreign Policy. And now, these kidnappings may be happening in the United States.

This isn’t the only method China is using to expand its reach abroad. The Chinese government has also been funding and taking control of Chinese student associations across the United States in order to instill Communist Party ideology.

Though vastly different in their approaches, both of these campaigns signal that the Chinese government, as it grows more autocratic at home, has been expanding its reach abroad. Whether through buying influence at universities or more threatening methods, such as the forced repatriation of fugitives, dissidents, and Uighurs, the Chinese government is attempting to extend its power as far as possible.

To discuss these tactics, James Palmer, FP’s senior editor, is joined by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, FP’s reporter on all things China, and Zach Dorfman, an FP contributor.

James Palmer is FP’s senior editor. Follow him on Twitter: @BeijingPalmer

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian is a contributing reporter at FP, where she covers international affairs, China, and D.C.’s foreign-policy machine. She was previously an assistant editor at FP’s China channel, Tea Leaf Nation. Follow her on Twitter: @BethanyAllenEbr

Zach Dorfman is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and an investigative journalist. Follow him on Twitter: @zachsdorfman

Shelbie Bostedt is Foreign Policy’s audience engagement editor, focusing on delivering FP’s stories to our readers. She previously reported for the Chicago Tribune and graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

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