A report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission has stated that Beijing could be using threat tactics against ethnic Chinese communities living abroad to turn them into its spies.
In the report published for a US congressional body, it is highlighted that threat to families of ethnic Chinese like Uygurs are being made to ensure the spy network is strengthened. It is also possible that such tactics are being increasingly employed to increase loyalty to the Communist Party – both in China and in foreign countries.
A number of anti-China protests in foreign countries in recent times – especially those which seek to highlight Beijing’s poor treatment of minority communities – may have perturbed officials in Beijing who are now looking to establish their country as a soft power in the eyes of the world. Uygurs are one such community in particular with global reports suggesting that close to a million have been forced into re-education camps. These are charges that have been vehemently denied by Beijing and the state-controlled media there.
The report, based on media findings and interviews with strategy experts, says that it is possible that people living abroad are being coerced to spy for China by threatening that their families back home would be dispatched to camps. It goes on to highlight that while not all campus organisations of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) abroad are officially affiliated to the Chinese government, there are many which indeed are. These are then used to carry out protests in foreign countries each time that particular country does something contrary to Chinese interests. The invitation to Dalai Lama by University of San Diego last year has been referred to as one such instance when CSSA reportedly organised protests.