GRAEME SMITH | 1 March 2021 | The Interpreter
This article draws from the “Tibet: Colonialism with Chinese characteristics?” episode of The Little Red Podcast, which features interviews and chat celebrating China beyond the Beijing beltway.
Evolving from an organisation that almost no one had heard about five years ago, the United Front Work Department (UFWD) is now headline news. Most reporting focuses on the international dimension of its operations, typically describing it as “shadowy” agency of “political warfare”, seeking to influence politicians into being more favourably disposed towards the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Yet the vast majority of its staff and funding is concentrated on shaping what happens inside China’s borders. Areas within China that are deemed to merit special attention have their own divisions within the UFWD – initially Inner Mongolia, then Tibet, and most recently Xinjiang. The tactics employed within China are strikingly similar to those employed abroad – the UFWD seeks to co-opt, coerce or silence.
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