China strengthens remote control of overseas Communist Party members to promote a positive image of China China strengthens remote control of overseas Communist Party members to promote a positive image of China

China strengthens remote control of overseas Communist Party members to promote a positive image of China

China strengthens remote control of overseas Communist Party members to promote a positive image of China

For many years, the Chinese government has asked overseas Chinese or international students to help it promote a positive image of China, and this request is increasingly directed at those who are party members.

The Chinese government has asked overseas Chinese or students to help promote a positive image of China and conduct political propaganda, which has long been widely reported by media inside and outside the Chinese Internet firewall. However, according to a report by the Financial Times on Wednesday (July 3), such requirements are increasingly targeting overseas Chinese citizens who are party members.

Not a new phenomenon
The Financial Times pointed out that the Chinese government has issued directives requiring Chinese citizens overseas to promote China's image through online seminars and other channels, and to study political materials sent by China. The newspaper interviewed ten CCP members who studied and worked in the United States, and they all said that they had spoken positively about China in public in accordance with the CCP's requirements.

Yang Han, a former Chinese diplomat in Sydney who now lives in Australia, told the station that he understands the behavior of these overseas party members. "For overseas students, especially those who are preparing to return to China after graduation to find a job, they must maintain good relations with the embassy and consulate. Especially in China's current economic situation, many people are willing to find some civil service jobs in government departments."

This behavior of strengthening control over overseas party members seems to be a new phenomenon that has emerged in recent years. According to our reporter, similar requirements were hard to find among Chinese students studying in the United States in the 2000s, although it is not certain whether they exist.

Yang Han said that when he was a diplomat at the Chinese Embassy in Sydney many years ago, the CCP regulations had some organizational requirements for overseas student party members. "According to the regulations of the Communist Party of China, you have to regularly participate in the activities of the party group when you are overseas. For overseas students, it is organized by the embassy's education department."

In May 2019, the CPC Central Committee issued the "Regulations on the Education and Management of Party Members of the Communist Party of China", which made new regulations on the management of overseas student party members, including the requirement that: for party members who study abroad, their original party organizations in colleges or universities or work units should retain their organizational relationship and contact them at least once every six months. After returning, party members who study abroad should resume their organizational life in accordance with regulations. Such regulations seem to be conducive to strengthening control over overseas party members.

But in reality, the CCP has already extended its party organizations overseas. According to a 2013 report by the Chinese Communist Party News Network, which has an official Chinese background, the Party Committee of the National University of Defense Technology, a military university in China, has established an overseas party branch among overseas students. These tightening controls on overseas Chinese party members also seem to be affecting China's overseas propaganda operations.

Promotional activities with official background

Gu Yi, an independent commentator who recently graduated from the University of Georgia, told this station that he had seen many activities organized by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association to promote China during his time at school. Although he was not sure whether the student association members who participated in the promotion had a party background, this kind of promotional activities had obvious official traces. "The Chinese Students Association would organize some cultural exchange activities or entertainment activities, and the image of China presented in these activities was that it was harmless to humans and animals, such as China had a glorious history, a vast and beautiful territory, and 56 ethnic groups, etc."

Gu Yi said that the problem with this kind of propaganda is that it avoids many real aspects. "They present a one-sided image. When they show the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, they make us forget that it was originally the homeland of the Tibetans, but was occupied by China. When they show Tiananmen Square, they avoid what happened there in 1989." He said that once when Chinese students demonstrated milk tea, they specifically marked it as "Chinese Taiwan" milk tea, and were reluctant to say it was Taiwanese milk tea.

Yang Han, who is in Australia, pointed out that some pro-China Chinese communities in Australia often use local communities on social media platforms such as WeChat to promote China and convey a pro-China stance on major events. He believes that such propaganda can easily have an impact on some Chinese groups. "Even though Chinese students and immigrants are overseas, they are still pure in their hearts and tend to accept the political propaganda of the Communist Party of China, and even promote it."

However, the Australian government has long been wary of China's official propaganda directed at overseas Chinese communities. In 2018, Australia passed the Anti-Foreign Interference Act, which has had a certain impact on Australia's handling of China-related cases and on China-Australia relations.

Yang Han said that after the law was enacted, these pro-China groups have significantly reduced their propaganda in the community. "In the past, everyone could openly organize some activities to support cross-strait reunification and oppose secession. These were public relations activities supported by the Chinese Embassy. Now these activities are rare because the leaders of these groups are also very smart and cannot openly challenge such laws."

Overseas Party Members Caught in the Gap

Chinese communities in Australia seem to be caught between the influence of Chinese officials and local Australian laws. A similar situation also occurs in the United States.

Under US law, "any member of a communist or totalitarian party, or a person politically associated with such a party or its affiliates or subsidiaries" cannot obtain a green card. The Financial Times reported that some of the overseas party members they interviewed in the US had concealed their party membership in order to apply for a green card. The US State Department said that they have strengthened the qualification review of Chinese green card applicants; since 2016, the approval rate of Chinese green card applications has dropped by 17%.

Chen Chuangchuang, a practicing attorney in the United States and executive director of the National Committee of the China Democratic League, told this station that in the process of representing immigration cases, he encountered some applicants who had been members of the Chinese Communist Party in the past. He usually warned them to submit reports based on the actual situation; concealing their identity as members of the Chinese Communist Party had no practical significance for them.


  1. It's raising concerns about political influence.

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