In Italy too the Front is united. Let’s talk about the Leninist-inspired tactics, consolidated and institutionalized in China below Xi Jinping, of the United Front, designed to co-opt forces outside the Chinese Communist Party using them as tools for the acquisition, consolidation and permanent monopoly of power. Tactics they have in Italy, which in 2019 signed the memorandum of understanding with China on the Silk Road, a target. This is what emerges clearly from the report “An easy prey. The CCP’s Influence Agencies and Their Operations in Italian Parliamentary and Local Politics ”, signed by Livia Codarin, Laura Harth e Jichang Lulu for the Global Committee for the Rule of Law “Marco Pannella” and Sinopsis, a project of the Czech NGO AcaMedia and the Sinology Faculty of the Caroline University of Prague.
There is the Department for International Contacts (Ild). There is the Chinese People’s Friendship Association with Abroad (CPAFFC). There is the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). And there are also units of the propaganda systems and the United Front, as well as “front organizations” linked to the intelligence agencies of the Chinese Communist Party. “Key players in the Party’s efforts to co-opt parliamentarians, political parties, local administrators, and influential personalities in the think tank and the media “. An example? The Confucius Institutes, defined as one of the “foreign outposts” of external propaganda, “a fundamental component of the propaganda work, with specialized agencies” as well as “foreign language media” and “entities controlled by propaganda agencies – such as ministries of Education, Culture and Tourism “.
“The foreign affairs, propaganda, trade and united front bodies conduct influence operations with mild or non-existent coverage,” the report reads. “The organs of these systems can themselves offer cover for the influence work of intelligence agencies.” And again: “The main intelligence agencies of the CCP maintain their front organizations for co-optation activities”. These include civilian security organs, parts of the CCP political and legal system, and units of the People’s Liberation Army.
For example, the Ministry of State Security, the main civilian intelligence organ, uses units such as the Chinese Center for International Cultural Exchange (Cicec) and the Chinese Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (Cicir) “to interact with foreign targets, especially with think tank Europeans of International Relations “. The Ministry of Public Security can count on “front organizations” that deal with external exchanges such as the Chinese Friendship Association (Caff), “known for having cultivated relationships with Italian contacts”, explains the report. In addition, among military intelligence agencies, the Liaison Office of the People’s Liberation Army Political Labor Department “has developed co-opting activities of prominent personalities through the use of group of front organizations connected, with the branch non-profit of the energy company Cefc successfully involved in creating links with administrators and politicians and other public figures at the United Nations and in various countries “.
Finally, there are two cultural organizations “involved in meetings with Italian counterparts and which illustrate the connections between intelligence and front organizations active in an area outside their formally competence”, explains the report. “In fact, although formally affiliated with the CCP propaganda system, these organizations show clear links at the executive level with civilian and military intelligence agencies.” These are two Gongo, that is, non-governmental organizations supported by the government (Government-organized non-governmental organization).
The first is the Chinese Culture Promotion Society (CCPS), currently controlled by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which in Italy operates with the Institute for Chinese Culture (ICC), established in 2016 and presented for the first time. publicly in 2017, which the authors of the report define as “a more ambitious co-optation and propaganda project than the previous parliamentary association”. The second is the Yan Huang Chinese Culture Research Association (Ayhcc), also under the leadership of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and with a branch in Florence (Italian-Chinese Yan Huang Cultural Research Association), described by the Chinese media as “the first Yan Huang cultural research association abroad” and active during the Covid-19 crisis, it participated in the donations of masks from China to Italy – an activity widely read as an attempt to influence.
The document concludes with a series of suggestions. Among these, the invitation to institutions, parties and political figures to “avoid interactions – such as entering into agreements and participating in or supporting events or initiatives – with CCP influencing agencies, such as those presented in this report, including they stand out for their operations directed at Italian politics, the ILD, the CPAFC, the CCPIT, the propaganda organs and the United Front “. The activities of these agencies and their “front organizations”, in fact, “evade the transparency requirements typical of formal relations between states, hiding the activities of the state-party behind the labels of personal encounters (“people-to-people“) And” non-governmental “,” cultural exchanges “or other similar descriptions. On the other hand, diplomatic, commercial, cultural and other exchanges should take place through the appropriate channels, as happens in relations with other foreign countries ”, concludes the report.