Chinese influence

Expert Voices

China's expanding global influence campaigns are sparking pushback

students in a classroom at a Confucius Institute
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.

China's government still fears the message from Tiananmen Square

Pro-democracy student demonstrators face-to-face with police during the funeral ceremony of liberal reformer Hu Yaobang in April, 1989. The protests were crushed six weeks later. Photo: Catherine Henriette/AFP/Getty Images

In the spring of 1989, Chinese students began gathering in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, at first to mourn the death of reformist leader Hu Yaobang and then in hopes of persuading their government to allow greater political freedom across the country.

Flashback: Over a period of six weeks, the crowd swelled as older people joined and the list of demands broadened. The occupation of the square took on a life on its own, and some within the Communist Party leadership began to see a threat to their monopoly on political power.