The US has requested that think tanks and other foreign policy organisations operating in the country voluntarily disclose any foreign funding, citing influence concerns about China and Russia.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday the disclosure of contributions from governments and state-owned and state-operated entities would determine whether and how the state department engaged with organisations.
The move would “protect the integrity of civil society institutions”, and reflected fears that Beijing and Moscow had sought to “exert influence over US foreign policy through lobbyists, external experts and think tanks”, he said.
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“We hope one day soon that US efforts to promote free and open dialogue about economic and personal liberty, equal citizenship, the rule of law and authentic civil society, will be possible in places such as China and Russia,” he said.
Pompeo added in a tweet that this would ensure free discourse “untainted by the machinations of authoritarian regimes”.
The call for financial transparency comes as US President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up scrutiny of Chinese influence in the US, as relations between the major powers have spiralled across multiple fronts. Pompeo has warned of Beijing’s “influence operations” on US college campuses and on state and local officials, messaging from China’s sprawling international state-media apparatus and the impact of links between China and US businesses.
In September, Pompeo warned US state and local politicians to be on alert against Chinese influence, and that Chinese efforts tried to “make Americans receptive to Beijing’s form of authoritarianism”. He cited the arrest of a New York City police officer for allegedly spying on other ethnic Tibetans in the city.
“[Chinese President Xi Jinping] knows that the federal government is pushing back against the Chinese Communist Party here in the United States and its malign influence, and it sees that here in the United States, and increasingly around the world, it can use subnational entities to circumvent America’s sovereignty,” he said.
Beijing has vilified Pompeo in particular, with Chinese state media describing the top US diplomat as the “common enemy of mankind” and “insane” for his hawkish rhetoric and policies on China. China’s foreign ministry said Pompeo’s remarks on Chinese influence in US politics were “shameless”, and that China was “not interested [in] and has never interfered in US domestic affairs”.
In August, Washington designated the US headquarters of the Confucius Institute, the Beijing-funded programme with the stated aim of teaching Chinese language abroad, as foreign missions in the US for “advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign” in US schools.
In June, the US ordered the American operations of four Chinese state media organisations, including state broadcaster CCTV and the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, to be treated as foreign missions in June, after similar moves against five other state outlets in February.
This article China-US relations: Pompeo calls for think tanks in America to show all foreign funding first appeared on South China Morning Post