Skip to main content

Hidden Hand: How the Chinese Communist Party is reshaping the world

Every Western democracy is affected. As Beijing is emboldened by the feebleness of resistance, its tactics of coercion and intimidation are being used against an increasingly broad spectrum of people

The following is an excerpt from Hidden Hand: Exposing how the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World. By Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg

The comforting belief that democratic freedoms have history on their side and will eventually prevail everywhere has always been tinged with wishful thinking. World events of the past two or three decades have shown that we can no longer take these things for granted. Universal human rights, democratic practice and the rule of law have powerful enemies, and China under the Chinese Communist Party is arguably the most formidable. The party’s program of influence and interference is well planned and bold, and backed by enormous economic resources and technological power. The wide-ranging campaign of subverting institutions in Western countries and winning over their elites has advanced much further than party leaders might have hoped.


Democratic institutions and the global order built after the Second World War have proven to be more fragile than imagined, and are vulnerable to the new weapons of political warfare now deployed against them. The Chinese Communist Party is exploiting the weaknesses of democratic systems in order to undermine them, and while many in the West remain reluctant to acknowledge this, democracies urgently need to become more resilient if they are to survive.

The threat posed by the CCP affects the right of all to live without fear. Many Chinese people living in the West, along with Tibetans, Uyghurs, Falun Gong practitioners and Hong Kong democracy activists, are at the forefront of the CCP’s repression and live in a constant state of fear. Governments, academic institutions and business executives are afraid of financial retaliation should they incur Beijing’s wrath. This fear is contagious and toxic. It must not be normalized as the price nations have to pay for prosperity.

The threat posed by the CCP affects the right of all to live without fear

Every Western democracy is affected. As Beijing is emboldened by the feebleness of resistance, its tactics of coercion and intimidation are being used against an increasingly broad spectrum of people. Even for those who do not feel the heavy hand of the CCP directly, the world is changing, as Beijing’s authoritarian norms are exported around the globe. When publishers, filmmakers and theatre managers decide to censor opinions that might “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” free speech is denied. A simple tweet that upsets Beijing can cost someone their job.


The CCP works hard to convince people in China and abroad that it speaks for all Chinese people. It yearns to be seen as the arbiter of all things Chinese, and insists that for Chinese people, wherever they are, to love the country means to love the party, and only those who love the party truly love the country. It claims that the party is the people, and any criticism of the party is therefore an attack on the Chinese people.

It is disturbing to find so many people in the West falling for this ruse and labelling critics of CCP policies racist or Sinophobic. In so doing they are not defending Chinese people, but silencing or marginalizing the voices of those Chinese opposed to the CCP, and the ethnic minorities who are persecuted by it. At worst, they are agents of influence for the party. In this book, then, we draw a sharp distinction between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people. When we use the word “China” we do so as shorthand for the political entity ruled by the CCP, in the same way that one might say, for example, that “Canada” voted in favour of a resolution at the United Nations.

A man is detained by police during a demonstration on July 1, 2020, in Hong Kong, marking the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China. ANTHONY KWAN/GETTY IMAGES

Conflating the party, the nation and the people leads to all kinds of misunderstanding, which is just what the CCP wants. One consequence is that overseas Chinese communities have come to be regarded by some as the enemy, when in fact many are the foremost victims of the CCP, as we shall see. They are among the best informed about the party’s activities abroad and some want to be engaged in dealing with the problem.


The distinction between the party and the people is also vital to understanding that the contest between China and the West is not a “clash of civilizations,” as has been claimed. We face not some Confucian “other,” but an authoritarian regime, a Leninist political party replete with a central committee, a politburo and a general secretary backed by enormous economic, technological and military resources. The real clash is between the CCP’s repressive values and practices, and the freedoms enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights: the freedom of speech, assembly, religion and belief; freedom from persecution; the right to personal privacy; and equal protection under the law. The CCP rejects each of these, in words or in deeds.

People who live in close proximity to China understand this much better than do most in the West. It is this understanding that has fuelled the recent protests in Hong Kong, and led to the re-election in January 2020 of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. In a landslide vote, the people of Taiwan used the ballot box to say no to the CCP.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen delivers her inaugural address at the Taipei Guest House in Taipei, Taiwan, on May 20, 2020. WANG YU CHING/TAIWAN PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS

Some on the left, despite their history of defending the oppressed, find reasons to blind themselves to the nature of China’s government under Xi Jinping. They have forgotten how totalitarianism can overpower human rights. Even so, anxiety about the CCP’s activities crosses political boundaries, not least within the U.S. Congress where Democrats and Republicans have formed an alliance to challenge Beijing. The same applies in Europe. Despite their other disagreements, people from the left and the right can agree that China under the CCP is a grave threat not only to human rights, but to national sovereignty.

The reasons why so many people in the West downplay or deny the threat posed by the CCP is a theme of Hidden Hand. One reason is of course financial interest. As Upton Sinclair put it, ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’

Another reason, especially in the case of some on the left, is “whataboutism.” China may be doing some unpleasant things, goes this argument, but what about the United States? The tactic is more effective with Donald Trump in the White House, but whatever criticisms one might have of the U.S. and its foreign policy, both historically and today — and we are strong critics — they do not in any way diminish or excuse the extreme violation of human rights and suppression of liberties by the CCP regime.

Ignorance explains some of the difficulty the West is having in coming to grips with the threat of the CCP, as does the fact that it has not previously had to contend with such an adversary. During the Cold War, no Western country had a deep economic relationship with the Soviet Union. Conscious of the economic and strategic importance of China, many nations are trying to get smarter about the country at the very time Beijing is pouring money into helping us “better understand China.” Receiving information straight from the horse’s mouth might seem a sensible route, but, as we will show, this is a bad mistake.

Clive Hamilton is an Australian academic and author of Silent Invasion, a book on China’s influence on Australia. Mareike Ohlberg is a senior fellow in the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund. The excerpt reprinted by permission of Optimum Publishing International


Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed. Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area” For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number” Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell yo

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میں Please help the deserving persons... Salary: Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows; Welder: Rs. 1,700 daily Heavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 daily Mason: Rs. 1,500 daily Helper: Rs. 850 daily Electrician: Rs. 1,700 daily Surveyor: Rs. 2,500 daily Security Guard: Rs. 1,600 daily Bulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Concrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 daily Roller operator: Rs. 2,000 daily Steel fixer: Rs. 2,200 daily Iron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 daily Account clerk: Rs. 2,200 daily Carpenter: Rs. 1,700 daily Light duty driver: Rs. 1,700 daily Labour: Rs. 900 daily Para Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 daily Pipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 daily Storekeeper: Rs. 1,700 daily Office boy: Rs. 1,200 daily Excavator operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Shovel operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Computer operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Security Supervisor: Rs.

A ‘European Silk Road’

publication_icon Philipp Heimberger ,  Mario Holzner and Artem Kochnev wiiw Research Report No. 430, August 2018  43 pages including 10 Tables and 17 Figures FREE DOWNLOAD The German version can be found  here . In this study we argue for a ‘Big Push’ in infrastructure investments in greater Europe. We propose the building of a European Silk Road, which connects the industrial centres in the west with the populous, but less developed regions in the east of the continent and thereby is meant to generate more growth and employment in the short term as well as in the medium and long term. After its completion, the European Silk Road would extend overland around 11,000 kilometres on a northern route from Lisbon to Uralsk on the Russian-Kazakh border and on a southern route from Milan to Volgograd and Baku. Central parts are the route from Lyon to Moscow in the north and from Milan to Constanţa in the south. The southern route would link Central Europe with the Black Sea area and