Countering China’s Influence Activities: Lessons from Australia

This report is the Australia case study of an ambitious year-long CSIS initiative to analyze China’s influence activities in Australia and Japan and Russian influence activities in the United Kingdom and Germany. 

The Chinese Communist party-state under Xi Jinping has stepped up efforts to gain influence in Australian politics and society and interfere with Australia’s democratic institutions and outcomes, often through covert and manipulative means. Revelations in recent years of Beijing’s attempts to buy political access and influence, manipulate elite opinion, and coopt universities and the Chinese diaspora community-led Australia to push back against China’s interference efforts, even in the face of Beijing’s economic threats and retaliation. Dr. Amy Searight examines the evolution of Beijing’s playbook of interference efforts in Australia, the democratic traits that made Australia vulnerable to these malign influence activities, as well as the democratic strengths that led to Australia’s robust and wide-ranging policy response. 

This publication was made possible by the Global Engagement Center at the U.S. Department of State, through the Information Access Fund (IAF) administered by the DT Institute. The opinions, conclusions, or recommendations contained herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the view of the U.S. government or the IAF.

Amy Searight