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Books: How China has expanded influence overseas

In new book, author delves into Beijing's focus on universities and the diaspora, as well as global media

International students from China prepare to take photos in their graduation gowns at the University of Sydney in July 2020. Chinese studying abroad have increasingly been used as tools of sharp power, which is wielded more clandestinely, than soft power.   © Reuters

China has long tried to influence other countries. As Beijing has become more influential in international affairs and President Xi Jinping has stepped up China's efforts to promote its model of development, Beijing has adopted a more assertive diplomatic and military strategy in concerted efforts to become the dominant power in Asia, and perhaps the world in the long run. As part of this strategy, it has dramatically increased efforts to wield influence within the politics and societies of other countries.

In doing so, China has relied on a growing and extensive number of tools. These include state media outlets, like Xinhua and China Global Television Network, as well as its de facto control of local Chinese-language publications, and its exertion of influence on social media platforms. It has also resorted to funding foreign politicians and conducting other covert influence operations. These include exerting increased influence in education by targeting ethnic Chinese student groups and classroom discourse in many countries. China has not always been successful. Its education and media strategies and political influence efforts often have provoked a backlash overseas that has limited Beijing's activities. But it continues to pursue its influence operations and will probably ramp them up after it deals with its major domestic COVID-19 challenges.

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