The following article is republished from Project Sinopsis, with permission:
Mainstream hijacking: CCP influence agencies and their operations in Italian parliamentary and local politics
Guidance note from Livia Codarin, Laura Harth, Jichang Lulu for Sinopsis and the Global Rule of Law Committee “Marco Pannella”.
Summary of conclusions and recommendations
Recent controversy over the clear alignment of some senior Italian politicians with the Chinese Communist Party (PCC) has garnered attention for too long, but has failed to expose the larger phenomenon behind it: the party’s centralized efforts to shape politics and public opinion by influencing the elite figures of the Italian political fan, an example of his global influencing work.
This article provides the first insight into the Italian activity of influence agencies through the systems that make up the apparatus led by the PCC, including three case studies that illustrate multi-system operations targeting Italian politics from the national level to the municipal level. The CPC International Liaison Department (HE D), the Chinese Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), as well as party units Propaganda and united front systems and fronts related to intelligence Agencies, cases show, are key players in efforts to co-opt parliamentarians, political parties, local officials and dominant voices in think tanks and the media.
Using politicians, lobbyists and other local intermediaries as proxies, these operations reorient democratic institutions as instruments of CCP policy. Vague appeals for “friendship,” “culture,” and commerce help recruit mainstream figures, often critical of the CCP, as unwitting backers of a speech engineering firm: installing propaganda memes that normalize the CCP’s totalitarian regime and its global expansion. Surrender the creativity of policy making to this new common sense, parliamentary circles relayed propaganda whitewashing the party’s human rights violations, while local governments joined a Belt and Road themed network set up by a CCP influence agency.
The knowledge asymmetry between the CCP’s influential agencies and their targets is a vulnerability that these operations exploit. Lack of awareness of influencing agencies and tactics compromises the integrity of political institutions by making them easy targets for co-optation. Developing effective policies towards a balanced relationship with China requires knowledge of the CCP’s influencing work.
Policy makers have the tools to address these vulnerabilities.
- Government bodies and political parties should build a sanitary cordon around the influence agencies of the CCP, avoiding the interactions that make them their instruments.
- Senators and MPs should reclaim Parliament from totalitarian co-optation, refusing to support “China Friendship” parliamentary groups and other platforms acting as effective proxies for the LDI and other government agencies. influence of the CCP.
- At the local level, the authorities should focus exchanges with their counterparts in the PRC on legitimate issues falling within their remit, avoiding the introduction into the propaganda initiatives carried out by the CPAFFC, the CCPIT and their local facilitators.
- Bodies such as parliamentary security and foreign affairs committees and individual lawmakers should investigate the CCP’s influence operations, bringing transparency and accountability by reviewing the government’s interactions with its PRC counterparts and publicly disclosing theirs.
- Parliamentary bodies and political parties should use regular briefings to make research on the influence of the CCP available to parliamentarians and local officials.
- A democratic consensus across the political spectrum in Italy and its allies should support an adaptation of the legislative framework to effectively combat foreign interference.
Full text (Italian)