In a new report by Matthew Henderson, a former diplomat with several years of experience working in China, the Council on Geostrategy has revealed how Chinese officials and state-affiliated publications are used to undermine the United Kingdom on the world stage.
Including a foreword by The Rt. Hon. Tobias Ellwood MP, the chair of the defence select committee in the House of Commons, calls out China as a revisionist autocracy that engages in ‘discursive statecraft’ – calibrated political operations close to political warfare.
This report shows that when a country, such as the UK, does not side with China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) undertakes a range of political operations intended to silence its critics and manipulate those willing to commend it by using increasingly aggressive and assertive language in state-controlled and state-affiliated mediums.
In these operations, the CCP attempts to position the UK as a ‘second-rate’, ‘adventurous’ and ‘imperialist’ power with delusions of grandeur whose efforts are doomed to fail. These positioning operations are done through its ambassador’s so-called ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy and state-owned media organs, which are often employed for the most incendiary of attacks.
As report author Matthew Henderson concludes, to counter this ‘discursive statecraft’ the UK must robustly stand by its principles and assert its values, backed up by its national and international strategy, as well as challenge those in the UK public sphere who repeat CCP propaganda.
James Rogers, Director of Research at the Council on Geostrategy, said:
“Of all the United Kingdom’s competitors, the People’s Republic of China is the most active and articulate in deploying discursive statecraft to achieve its objectives.”
“These efforts are carefully calibrated to stir up spread confusion about Britain’s global role and prevent the British Government from undertaking courses of action that might be considered by the Chinese Communist Party as contrary to its interests.”
“It is important that policymakers and parliamentarians understand and recognise these tactics so that they are aware of the Chinese Communist Party’s disruptive agenda.”