How world's largest diplomatic power exerts its influence and control

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jul 31, 2020, 09.58 PM(IST) Edited By: Palki Sharma

China Photograph:( Reuters )

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China has 169 embassies, 96 consulates, eight permanent missions and three other missions

With more than 276 diplomatic posts, China is the world's largest diplomatic power. 

US and China have an equal number of embassies, but, Beijing has more consulates than Washington. 

China has 169 embassies, 96 consulates, eight permanent missions and three other missions. 

Have you ever wondered why does China need so many diplomatic posts? 

Also read | China dismisses accusations of hacking attempt on US vaccine developer Moderna

Any diplomatic mission represents a nation's interest in a foreign land. 

In the case of China, Chinese missions are fronts to snoop, influence and exert control. 

Chinese embassies and consulates run surveillance operations, which are also used to track down Uighurs. 

Let's understand how these missions operate. 

Chinese missions abroad gather information about missing Uighurs and then try to secure their custody through extradition and diplomacy. 

Consular officials reject any passport renewal requests from Uighurs. The Uighurs are forced to return to China for new papers.

Once they reach China, they are sent into mass internment camps.

Also, the presence of Chinese students abroad comes in handy. Chinese embassies and consulates keep a close tab on them.

When required, political directives are sent to mobilise supporters. This has happened frequently in America. 

In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Washington where hundreds of Chinese students gave him a warm welcome.

Later, it turned out that the Chinese embassy had paid them 200 USD each to gather. 

The purpose behind this mass-paid support is to show how large groups support the Communist Party leadership and crowd out any protest. 

The main job is to campaign for political influence. 

Now let's take a look at how China tries to influence a nation's politics. 

A video conference between Nepal's ruling Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Reportedly, the purpose of this conference was to "learn from China's ruling party".

But actually, this is how Beijing exports its communist ideology abroad. 

In the last three months, we have seen how China's Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi engages with senior Nepali leaders by playing peacemaker to feuding members of Nepal's ruling party. 

The country has made similar attempts to influence Africa too.

Beijing has engaged with African political parties and leaders, developed party-to-party relations by offering training, created an exchange program for journalists to influence the press.

All this combined with the chequebook diplomacy makes China harder to ignore these regions. 

The CCP has a special department called the United Front Work Department (UFWD).

This is the political influence arm of the Communist Party, whose job is to reach out and maintain ties with key Chinese interest groups. 

Chinese diplomats posted abroad often assist in these operations. 

They preside over the ceremonies and banquets held by organisations linked to the UPWD.

One such organisation is the National Association for China's peaceful reunification, which has branches in more than 30 American cities and issues statements of support for China's foreign policy moves. 

In return, Chinese diplomats encourage their participation in America's domestic politics. 

In hindsight, Chinese missions do more than just spying.

They are an extension of the CCP and its influence operations abroad.