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A class at the Community College of Denver's Confucius Institute. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

China's global influence campaigns are drawing heightened responses, from a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate and anti-interference laws in Australia to new legislation in Germany that would limit Chinese investment in media.

Why it matters: Under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has more openly wielded power abroad, trying to influence other countries’ political debates, media coverage and education systems. These efforts extend China's authoritarian control of information, manipulate discussions of its policies and intimidate ethnic Chinese populations around the world.

Details: Beyond the hard power of military and economic coercion, China is expanding its soft power to “sell” an image of itself through its own state media and content-sharing deals with foreign outlets. It also deploys "sharp power" to manipulate other societies, often through misinformation.

  • Chinese broadcaster CGTN and newswire Xinhua have opened new foreign bureaus and filled many with journalists from CNN, Al Jazeera, the BBC and other well-regarded outlets. Beijing exerts outsized influence over the international Chinese-language press (including within the U.S.), limiting international scrutiny of China.
  • China's propagandistic state news outlets have amassed staggering, if perhaps slightly inflated, numbers of Facebook followers, nearly all of them outside China (where Facebook is blocked).
  • Confucius Institutes that offer language and culture training at universities have promoted censorship by blocking conference materials and fostering "formal and informal speech codes" around sensitive issues.
  • China's United Front Work Department has expanded and been given a larger global role to suppress criticism and covertly influence ethnic Chinese associations, political parties, campus organizations and other groups.

Where it stands: The gains from China's influence apparatus have so far been mixed. CGTN is only the 10th most popular network in Asia, for example, and has struggled to reach audiences in other regions. But these efforts have sparked backlashes in some states, and its sharp power can end up hurting its soft power.

The bottom line: China's influence operations are far-reaching, consequential efforts that merit vigilance, even if they have not all proved as successful as Beijing intended.

Joshua Kurlantzick is senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

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Why it matters: Per the report, there's early evidence that suggests vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and are potentially less likely to transmit the virus to other people. At the time of its publication, the CDC said the guidance would apply to about 10% of Americans.