Cultivating friendly forces: the Chinese Communist Party’s influence operations in the Xinjiang diaspora
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has committed well-documented and large-scale human rights abuses against the Uyghurs and other indigenous minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) that amount to crimes against humanity. Through its complex united front system, the CCP is actively monitoring members of the diaspora, including Uyghurs, creating databases of actionable intelligence, and mobilising community organisations in the diaspora to counter international criticism of its repressive policies in Xinjiang while promoting its own policies and interests abroad. These organisations are powerful resources in Beijing’s ongoing efforts to reshape the global narrative on Xinjiang, influence political elites abroad, and ultimately control the Chinese diaspora, but they’re also poorly understood.
While human rights abuses in Xinjiang are being exposed internationally, the mechanisms and tactics developed by united front agencies to co-opt overseas Xinjiang-related community groups have gone largely unnoticed. This research demonstrates how these groups can sow distrust and fear in the community, mislead politicians, journalists and the public, influence government policies, cloud the assessment of the situation in Xinjiang, and disguise the CCP’s interference in foreign countries.