French Ministry of Armed Forces: CCP’s Extensive Overseas Influence Operations Target Falun Gong
The French Military School Strategic Research Institute (IRSEM), an organization under the French Ministry of Armed Forces, recently published a report entitled “Chinese Influence Operations”, which details the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) infiltration and influence of international governments.
The report, which is 646 pages long, is based off an extensive collection of information and offers a thorough analysis of the CCP regime. It unveils a comprehensive “United Front” framework by the CCP to control others through overseas Chinese, media, diplomacy, economy, politics, education, think tanks, and culture.
The report also highlights 79 instances of the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong. These includes concrete examples of how the CCP bought off overseas Chinese media and Chinese organizations to spread fake information that demonizes Falun Gong and incites hatred. Moreover, the CCP threatens and intimidates Falun Gong practitioners through Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA, an organization network under Chinese embassies and consulates across countries), individual Chinese students studying in the overseas, and Fifty-Cent members (who used to be paid 50 cents per online post that glorifies the CCP).
The 610 Office
The report introduces Falun Gong as a spiritual system that improves both mind and body. It became popular in China with tens of millions of followers. Then CCP top leader Jiang Zemin viewed the practice as a threat because the CCP does not allow the existence of any entity beyond its control.
As a result, the 610 Office was launched. With 15,000 agents both inside and outside China, this extralegal agency has taken actions globally in an attempt to eradicate Falun Gong.
Watch our short documentary to learn more about what many call China’s Gestapo:
Paid Publication to Slander Falun Gong
The report indicates that the CCP pays media in other countries to publish articles that defame Falun Gong. By doing so, it creates a misconception that such negative views about Falun Gong are from a “third party” and thus more “credible.”
For example, an agent provided 20,000 pesos (about 310 USD) to editors-in-chief of numerous Argentina media in April 2020 to publish an article against Falun Gong written in “crappy Spanish.” The media targeted included El Cronista Comercial, Diario Popular, and online platform Infobae. This article contained a large amount of false information about Falun Gong and was meant to destroy Falun Gong’s reputation. It also included frequent verbiage that the CCP uses to defame and demonize Falun Gong. In other words, it spread a message from the CCP through overseas media outlets.
This incident was exposed because one editor the agent contacted felt he should contact a coworker – a Falun Gong practitioner – about this. This agent later admitted he worked for the “Chinese” on this matter.
Humiliating Emails Sent with Fake Identities
To further frame Falun Gong, some “attackers” sent humiliating emails, in the name of Falun Gong practitioners, to ministers and parliaments in Canada and other countries.
One member of the Canada Falun Dafa Association said that there was evidence that CCP agents “systematically” and “repeatedly” sent such emails to officials at all levels across countries to undermine Falun Gong. The IP addresses of some of these emails are from China.
Diplomat Denied Visa Renewal for Subjugation of Falun Gong Overseas
In 2006, the Canadian government denied a visa renewal application by Wang Pengfei, Second Secretary of the Education Office of the Chinese Embassy at Ottawa. Wang was also asked to leave Canada.
This happened because Wang’s work at the Education Office involved collecting information from Falun Gong practitioners in Canada and interfering with their legal rights.
For example, Wang had worked together with CSSA at over 20 Canadian colleges to defame Falun Gong. Shenzhou Xueren (China Scholars Abroad), a magazine by the Chinese authority, once published an article in 2004 praising the “excellent” performance of the CSSA president at the Beijing University’s branch in Montreal, especially his tactics and “courage” against Falun Gong.
Role of Chinese Students and Scholar Association (CSSA)
The CSSA has played an active role in controlling Chinese students overseas; many are put under pressure to participate or not participate in activities. For example, one student at the University of Ottawa received a threatening email from CSSA. “Based on testimonies from other students and investigation from CSSA officials, you are still a Falun Gong practitioner. You’d better watch yourself,” wrote the email.
A similar situation occurred in the University of Calgary. Some CSSA members received emails from someone who claimed to be a CCP agent. The email discouraged them from attending a movie played by the Friends of Falun Gong club on campus. “Otherwise, your name and photo will be reported to the (CCP) central government,” the email wrote.
Language used by the CSSA in communications have indicated the organization functions as a spokesperson for the CCP. CSSA from the University of Toronto pressured the city in 2004 to withdraw its recognition of “Falun Dafa Day.” In the following year, CSSA in the University of Ottawa interfered with NTD’s application for a local TV station. Its letter contained phrases that were exactly the same as that used by overseas CCP ambassadors.
Four years ago, the CSSA president at Australian National University of Canberra saw the campus pharmacy had Epoch Times newspapers for free pickup and asked who gave the authorization. The president persisted until the pharmacy discarded the newspapers.
There are many examples of this kind. Some overseas Chinese students have used their financial leverage on the schools to justify their actions. Their behaviors are also supported and encouraged by the Chinese authorities.
According to the IRSEM report, by the Chinese embassy in Ottawa called upon over 3,000 Chinese students from Ottawa and Quebec to welcome Hu Jintao’s visit to Canada in 2010. The students’ expenses were fully covered by the embassies and each received 50 Canadian dollars as compensation according to witnesses. During the meeting at the Education Office, Liu Shaohua, then first secretary to the office, Liu described the gathering as a “battle” to defend “the motherland’s reputation.” He requested the students to win over Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetan “separatists,” and Uyghurs “separatists” who had “occupied” Capitol Hill.
As an incentive, Liu reminded the students that all costs were covered by the embassy. He also told the students to keep this conversation “confidential.” When Hu visited Ottawa in 2005, CCP officials were outraged because “enemies” occupied major spots. Therefore, Liu expected a grand welcome scene by pro-CCP individuals this time. If students asked why they came here “voluntarily,” they should reply, “We are here to welcome Hu. Long Live the Sino-Canada friendship!”
On that same day, Zhang Baojun from the Education Office of the Chinese Consulate in Toronto also sent an email to students with a similar message. He reminded students to “work together and act as planned.” For those who received scholarships from the Chinese government, anyone who could not attend must provide a justification for their absence.
Largest Transnational Repression
According to the report, the CCP’s first goal is silencing overseas Chinese, including dissidents with different opinions and those who grew up in the free world. The main targets are minorities and certain faith groups including Tibetans, Uyghurs, Inner Mongolians, and Falun Gong practitioners. Also targeted are dissidents in Taiwan and democratic advocates, human rights defenders, human rights journalists, and former officials wanted by the CCP for “corruption.” This massive campaign by the CCP was described by human rights organizations as the most sophisticated, largest, and most comprehensive global repression.
In terms of implementation of its goal, the CCP monitors these organizations and individuals regardless of their nationalities – as long as they are Chinese descendants. The tactics range from information gathering, infiltration, suppression, threat, intimidation, harassment, and even direct violence. On occasions, the CCP has also coerced local governments to arrest and extradite individuals. Cases of the latter have happened in India, Thailand, Serbia, Malaysia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, UAE, Turkey, Nepal, and others.
Censorship and Control of Overseas Chinese Media
It is well known that Beijing controls Chinese media globally, including in North America. In fact, nearly all Chinese media in Canada are controlled by the CCP. The only exceptions are Epoch Times and NTD Television, two popular independent media.
When their reporters planned to go to China in 2005 to report on the Canadian Primer Minister’s trip, their visas were first issued and then revoked.
Besides the Chinese authorities, even Canadian officials sometimes restrict these two media to avoid retaliation from Beijing. For example, when former Chinese president Hu Jintao visited Ottawa in 2005, these two media could not receive permits to cover related events. Same thing happened when Hu visited Ottawa again in 2010.
To tame overseas Chinese media, the CCP’s two primary tools are carrot (encouraging news media’s self-censorship in exchange for financial benefits) and stick (threat and harassment of reporters’ relatives in China). In addition, the CCP also tried to regulate and train these reporters with the CCP narratives. For example, under organization by local Unite Front from the CCP, the International New Media Cooperation Organization was launched in Vancouver in 2014 to unite all pro-CCP Chinese media in North America.
Influencing Higher Education Through the Confucius Institute
Another financial leverage of the CCP is the Confucius Institute. Salvatore Babones, Associate Professor from the University of Sydney, says the impact of the Confucius Institute is not limited to its propaganda, but also includes the influence on college administrations internationally. More specifically, the CCP has the key to opening the door – funding, teachers, salary, and equipment. For colleges under financial stress, it may go so far as to offer a building or a language center, making it difficult for many colleges to turn down their offers. The colleges then become dependent on the CCP and hence obedient subordinates.
The CCP then has major influence in the colleges’ decision-making. Their influence has deterred certain research projects (restricting studies on Tibet, Taiwan, or strategic ending of the CCP’s influence), limiting freedom of speech and belief (especially Falun Gong) of staff members, selection of guest speakers, and the college’s position on the CCP in many cases. This leads to eventual self-censorship, the silencing of voices the CCP does not like.
Les Opérations D’Influence Chinoises https://www.irsem.fr/rapport.html