Chinese Influence: Real or Perceived?
Panel Debates Report Alleging Covert and Corrupting Chinese Influence in U.S. Civic and Political Life
On February 11, 2019, the Stanford China Program convened a panel of individuals holding widely differing perspectives on a controversial report issued by the Hoover Institution and Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations titled Chinese Influence & American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance (2018). The report urges U.S. governments, organizations and individuals to engage in “constructive vigilance” against China’s illicit influence-seeking operations across a broad spectrum of American political and civic life, including U.S. state and local governments, the Chinese American community, university campuses, think tanks, media, corporations, and the technology sector. This report, signed by an eminent group of China experts and U.S. foreign policy specialists, has elicited significant attention and sharp reactions. Some have expressed strong reservations or disagreements with the report’s conclusions. Others have expressed worry about the consequences – whether intended or not – for Americans of Chinese descent. This panel purposely sought to bring together wide-ranging perspectives to motivate debate and thoughtful reflection upon the findings and implications of this report.
The invited panelists included Gordon H. Chang, Professor of American History and Oliver H. Palmer Professor in Humanities, Stanford University; Larry Diamond, one of the co-chairs of the report and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and at the Hoover Institution; Elizabeth Economy, a signatory to the report and C.V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; and David M. Lampton, Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow at FSI and Hyman Professor of China Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Emeritus. The panel was moderated by Jean C. Oi, William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics and Director of the China Program, Shorenstein APARC.