CCP Grooming Dictators in Developing Countries Through ‘Business Training’ Programs: Report

The Chinese communist regime has been exporting communist ideology and authoritarian control systems to developing countries under the guise of “business training” programs, according to the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub’s new report, “A Global South with Chinese characteristics.”The Global South refers to developing countries, which are mostly (but not exclusively) in the southern hemisphere, including India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and most countries in Africa and Latin America. China is included too.The report found 795 online seminars were offered to foreign government officials in these countries in 2021 and 2022, funded and run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s Ministry of Commerce, promoting “an autocratic approach to governance” and pushing the narrative of authoritarian control is essential for economic development.The findings are based on 1,691 files obtained from the Academy for International Business Officials (AIBO) under the CCP’s Ministry of Commerce. The AIBO that trains CCP cadres in the ministry has been in coordination with the CCP’s embassies to promote its online seminars in the Global South. According to the report, 21,123 individuals participated in the CCP’s online seminars over the two-year period.The report’s author, researcher Niva Yau, categorized the training programs into six groups based on their contents to analyze how they serve “China’s broader ambitions to undermine the liberal democratic norms that currently underpin the global order.”The first two groups are labeled “Clearly authoritarian” and “Potentially authoritarian” and have lessons on CCP practices that violate personal freedom, including “non-democratic regime practices” like “administrative control over the media, information, and population.”Related Stories“The programs also provide practical assistance for host countries to fast-track adaptation of Chinese practices,” said the report.Training programs that fall into two other groups, “Information operation access” and “Security access” are centered on activities that serve the CCP’s “intelligence-collection purposes” and help further the Chinese regime’s access to foreign countries’ information operations and security infrastructure.The CCP’s ideology, including leader Xi Jinping’s writings are included in the training curriculum. So is promotion of the Chinese regime’s Belt and Road Initiative, a large infrastructure loan program for the developing countries that serves to expand the CCP’s political influence.The report points out that the China model promoted in the trainings and activities is rooted in the CCP’s political ideology, including the centralization of power and the economy.The training programs encourage “sympathy for Chinese narratives among officials across the Global South,” says the report, which sees the programs as part of broader propaganda efforts by the CCP to craft positive narratives about China and the benefits of engaging with China.According to the analysis, the programs repeatedly remind participants that the CCP owes its success to authoritarian governance practices, while being critical of democratic practices and principles.The report notes that the pattern of promoting autocracy and undermining democracy in developing countries will likely continue given that the CCP is scaling up these types of programs.Democracy Versus AuthoritarianismThe training programs are part of the CCP doubling down on its goal of expansion in the world’s poorest countries. Mr. Xi reiterated solidarity with those countries on June 12 in a video speech at the opening ceremony of the celebration for the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. He said, “China will always be a member of the Global South and the developing world” and “will actively seek to import more from other developing countries, step up cooperation in trade, investment and development.”Chinese-chartered merchant ship Cosco Shipping Panama crosses the new Agua Clara Locks during the inauguration of the expansion of the Panama Canal on June 26, 2016. (Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images)“The report revealed that so many CCP’s ideological training programs for the Global South officials, which was little known, are run by a seemingly neutral department—ministry of commerce,”Cheng Cheng-ping, a professor of economics at Taiwan’s National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, says the training programs, which are run by the neutral-sounding ministry of commerce, show that the CCP under Mr. Xi has a “systematic approach to influence and dominate the global order that is beyond our imagination.”“[The CCP], along with Russia, attempts to change the entire world order that is based on democracy, freedom, individualism, and the rule of law. Therefore, through its own economic success, it wants to bring in these Global South nations using these comprehensive training programs,” said Mr. Cheng.He adds that the alliance between the CCP

CCP Grooming Dictators in Developing Countries Through ‘Business Training’ Programs: Report
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The Chinese communist regime has been exporting communist ideology and authoritarian control systems to developing countries under the guise of “business training” programs, according to the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub’s new report, “A Global South with Chinese characteristics.”

The Global South refers to developing countries, which are mostly (but not exclusively) in the southern hemisphere, including India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and most countries in Africa and Latin America. China is included too.

The report found 795 online seminars were offered to foreign government officials in these countries in 2021 and 2022, funded and run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s Ministry of Commerce, promoting “an autocratic approach to governance” and pushing the narrative of authoritarian control is essential for economic development.

The findings are based on 1,691 files obtained from the Academy for International Business Officials (AIBO) under the CCP’s Ministry of Commerce. The AIBO that trains CCP cadres in the ministry has been in coordination with the CCP’s embassies to promote its online seminars in the Global South. According to the report, 21,123 individuals participated in the CCP’s online seminars over the two-year period.

The report’s author, researcher Niva Yau, categorized the training programs into six groups based on their contents to analyze how they serve “China’s broader ambitions to undermine the liberal democratic norms that currently underpin the global order.”

The first two groups are labeled “Clearly authoritarian” and “Potentially authoritarian” and have lessons on CCP practices that violate personal freedom, including “non-democratic regime practices” like “administrative control over the media, information, and population.”

“The programs also provide practical assistance for host countries to fast-track adaptation of Chinese practices,” said the report.

Training programs that fall into two other groups, “Information operation access” and “Security access” are centered on activities that serve the CCP’s “intelligence-collection purposes” and help further the Chinese regime’s access to foreign countries’ information operations and security infrastructure.

The CCP’s ideology, including leader Xi Jinping’s writings are included in the training curriculum. So is promotion of the Chinese regime’s Belt and Road Initiative, a large infrastructure loan program for the developing countries that serves to expand the CCP’s political influence.

The report points out that the China model promoted in the trainings and activities is rooted in the CCP’s political ideology, including the centralization of power and the economy.

The training programs encourage “sympathy for Chinese narratives among officials across the Global South,” says the report, which sees the programs as part of broader propaganda efforts by the CCP to craft positive narratives about China and the benefits of engaging with China.

According to the analysis, the programs repeatedly remind participants that the CCP owes its success to authoritarian governance practices, while being critical of democratic practices and principles.

The report notes that the pattern of promoting autocracy and undermining democracy in developing countries will likely continue given that the CCP is scaling up these types of programs.

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Democracy Versus Authoritarianism

The training programs are part of the CCP doubling down on its goal of expansion in the world’s poorest countries. Mr. Xi reiterated solidarity with those countries on June 12 in a video speech at the opening ceremony of the celebration for the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. He said, “China will always be a member of the Global South and the developing world” and “will actively seek to import more from other developing countries, step up cooperation in trade, investment and development.”

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Chinese-chartered merchant ship Cosco Shipping Panama crosses the new Agua Clara Locks during the inauguration of the expansion of the Panama Canal on June 26, 2016. (Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese-chartered merchant ship Cosco Shipping Panama crosses the new Agua Clara Locks during the inauguration of the expansion of the Panama Canal on June 26, 2016. (Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images)

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“The report revealed that so many CCP’s ideological training programs for the Global South officials, which was little known, are run by a seemingly neutral department—ministry of commerce,”

Cheng Cheng-ping, a professor of economics at Taiwan’s National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, says the training programs, which are run by the neutral-sounding ministry of commerce, show that the CCP under Mr. Xi has a “systematic approach to influence and dominate the global order that is beyond our imagination.”

“[The CCP], along with Russia, attempts to change the entire world order that is based on democracy, freedom, individualism, and the rule of law. Therefore, through its own economic success, it wants to bring in these Global South nations using these comprehensive training programs,” said Mr. Cheng.

He adds that the alliance between the CCP and the Global South has already impacted the confrontation with the democratic West. “China’s influence in many areas is now greater than that of the United States. As long as there is a voting in the United Nations, the United States loses almost every time. This is why we Taiwan are not accepted by almost all international organizations.”

As to the lure of the China model promoted in the training programs, Mr. Cheng explained: “There are more than 100 developing countries, poor countries, and autocratic countries in the world. Their first priority is to maintain their own political dominance. China’s economy has developed well, and the regime seems to be very stable, so this is a double temptation for them. If the economy develops well, the authoritarian regime can be more authoritarian. Their dominance is not only legitimized, but it is also getting stronger.”

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Shipping containers sit beside railway lines running into Mombasa port in Mombasa, Kenya, on Sept. 1, 2018. (Luis Tato/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Shipping containers sit beside railway lines running into Mombasa port in Mombasa, Kenya, on Sept. 1, 2018. (Luis Tato/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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“China provides the Global South countries with funds and loans through the Belt and Road Initiative. Unlike the Western countries, China doesn’t require them to promise political freedom and human rights to their people,” Chen Shih-min, associate professor of political science at National Taiwan University told The Epoch Times on June 14, adding that this may lead some of the world’s least developed countries, especially in Africa, where many are dictatorships, to move closer to China.

However, Mr. Cheng pointed out that China’s economy has been slumping, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. “The real estate bubble is bursting. Everyone is predicting that China’s economy will continue to decline and it won’t change in near future. Meanwhile, Xi is tightening grip over Chinese society. The China myth or the good China story is becoming harder to tell.”

“Its ability to give away huge amount of money to the developing countries has also diminished,” he added.

In term of the competition of influence with the West, Mr. Cheng said, “The West still has an absolute advantage, not only in economic strength, the values they represent—democracy, human rights, the rule of law, freedom and openness, and free market competition—are the right path to world peace and prosperity.”

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Countering the CCP’s Influence

Mr. Cheng said that the confrontation between authoritarianism and Western democratic values is clearly illustrated in the CCP’s training programs for the Global South officials.

“Western countries must be more united and more strategic. And then they should spend more resources, aid, and effort to help these vast regions, countries, and people that have long been dominated by poverty, chaos, and authoritarianism. If Western countries only care about their own society, the evil forces like China and Russia will enter [the Global South] and have greater influence.”

“There are some Global South countries, after they are able to get rid of poverty [with the help from the West], they will gradually follow the Western values ​​and move closer to the Western alliance,” Mr. Cheng said.

Mr. Chen suggests a similar approach to counter the CCP’s influence. “Western countries should also not hesitate to provide more assistance to the development of Global South, especially their infrastructure construction,” he said.

In addition, he urged the West to provide more accurate information about the CCP and China to counter the CCP’s propaganda in the cognitive war with the Chinese regime. “Many countries in the Global South may be deceived by the CCP’s deliberate United Front and cognitive warfare operations, especially they may not understand the situation in the past two or three years—China is increasingly facing a host of economic and social problems. Western countries must widely report on these and make clear explanations of the situation through media and other means.”

Luo Ya contributed to this report.

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