The BBC recently broadcast a documentary made by Jane Corbin about a Chinese Communist Party [CCP] organisation that is officially called The United Front Work Department [UFWD] but is often referred to as China’s Magic Weapon.
Chairman Mao said that the success of the CCP was thanks to the magic weapon of the united front of the people, the armed struggle and the party. Now, President Xi is using the UFWD to spread Chinese influence round the world. It expects Chinese expatriates to work on it behalf.
The main objectives are to spread Chinese power and influence and to obtain technology, especially military technology. The documentary concentrated on Australia, the USA and the UK.
Attempts by the UFWD to subvert the democratic process in Australia were described by Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University and Senator James Paterson, a member of the Australian Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security.
A Chinese businessman whose visa was later revoked on national security grounds made a substantial donation to the Australian Labor Party. At Queensland University, a peaceful protest against the Chinese government by 10-15 students was broken up by 2-300 Chinese students. The university took action against only the leader pf the peaceful protest. The local Chinese Consul General is an Honorary Professor at the University.
A law has now been passed with cross party support in order to combat Chinese subversion in Australia.
China attempts to influence students in many countries via its global network of Confucius Institiutes
In the USA, a fire at the Chinese Consulate in Houston soon after the US government had ordered it to close appeared to be caused by paper and plastic being burnt. John Demers, formerly Assistant Attorney-General for National Security described the consulate as being a ‘den of spies.’ He stated that China is conducting industrial espionage on a major scale. Its aim is to steal a company’s research and then its market.
The point about Chinese attempts to steal intellectual property from Western companies was also made by Greg Levesque of Strider, a company specialising in helping companies to prevent theft of their intellectual property by nation-states.
China is also alleged to be recruiting Chinese academics. Charles Lieber, Professor of Chemistry at Harvard, has been arrested and accused of working for China. Many other academics have, however, come to his defence. His case has not yet gone to trial, but he has requested that it be expedited as he has incurable cancer.
According to Tom Tugendhat, Chairman of the British Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee and Dr Radomir Tylecote of the Civitas Defence and Security for Democracy Unit, most of the top two dozen British universities have some sort of research or sponsorship relationship with organisations linked to the Chinese military. Students from China’s university of defence technology are at Oxford University.
The United Kingdom tried to build closer links with China when Xi visited in 2015. As a result, China now has significant involvement in British infrastructure, including nuclear power stations, airports and water utility companies.
A fascinating but worrying programme.
See the link below for a 2017 Financial Times articles on the UFWD. This newspaper’s website is mostly pay but this article should be freely available.
The documentary can be watched by UK viewers from the BBC iPlayer at the link below: