Countering Chinese Influence Operations

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is using influence operations to undermine the U.S.-led world order. Modern PRC influence operations echo Soviet-era influence tactics while incorporating new technologies, suggesting that the United States can adapt lessons learned from combatting influence operations during the Cold War and modify them to fit today’s challenges.

During the Cold War, Soviet propaganda targeted sympathetic Western populations and used disinformation campaigns to try to destroy the United States’ global reputation. The United States created new agencies, working groups, media outlets, and counter-propaganda initiatives both at home and in countries most susceptible to Soviet influence. As the United States reorients itself to both an era of great power rivalry and emerging technologies that inform, host, and amplify influence operations on a scale unimaginable during the Cold War, it must develop a strategy to address and counter Chinese influence. 

To determine how the U.S. government should respond to PRC influence campaigns, policymakers must first examine the PRC’s approach to influence. Then, taking lessons learned from the U.S. government response to influence campaigns during the Cold War, this paper will conclude with policy recommendations for countering Chinese influence operations. 

Growing Threat of Chinese Influence in the United States

On 6 July 2022, the heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and MI5 held a joint press conference—the first time directors of the two agencies have shared a public platform—to address growing concern over Beijing’s espionage campaigns. While the conference focused primarily on Beijing’s intellectual property theft, the directors addressed China’s propaganda and influence campaigns. Previously, Kenneth McCallum, Director General of MI5, had summarized China’s influence operations this way: “You might think in terms of the Russian intelligence services providing bursts of bad weather. China is changing the climate.”1 Beijing’s objective of shifting global opinion to be more favorable of China is both a long-term strategy and a present-day operation. 

Overview: Chinese Influence Operations

China’s influence operations in the United States have expanded drastically in the last two decades, and even at a more accelerated rate in recent years. In its 2020 report “Beijing’s Global Microphone,” Freedom House suggested that China’s influence campaigns have three goals: promoting a positive view of China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), encouraging foreign investment in China and openness to PRC investment abroad, and belittling or silencing critics of the CCP or Beijing’s policies.2 Ultimately, PRC influence operations seek to present the CCP model as the preferred alternative to liberal democracy on the global stage. 

While much of China’s influence apparatus is overt, including state-owned media channels and propaganda from diplomats and spokespersons, recent findings show that Chinese intelligence agencies have long been involved in laying the groundwork for influence campaigns.

Within the past year, scholars and researchers—particularly throughout the Indo-Pacific—have increasingly focused on the prevalence of PRC influence operations. In late 2022, Alex Joske of the Australian Security Policy Institute published Spies and Lies: How China’s Greatest Covert Operations Fooled the World, arguing that Western policymakers and foreign policy experts have a fundamentally flawed view of China’s rise and the role of PRC intelligence agencies.3 He claims that China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), its principal civilian intelligence agency, has spent the last four decades creating a global influence apparatus using both overt and covert methods, while playing on the West’s vision for China. Joske states: 

The MSS was taking the West’s dream of a more free and open China and turning it into a weapon that gave China valuable time to build up its power and ability to challenge the existing world order… Very few recognized that the MSS wasn’t just playing a game of espionage but rather task[ing] some of its best officers to convince influential foreigners that China would rise peacefully and gradually.4 

Beijing’s Global Outreach

During the past three decades, Beijing has invested in expanding its global media outreach through state-owned news channels. China Daily, the English-language Chinese newspaper, is available in major U.S. airports and on Capitol Hill. China Central Television broadcasts globally in English, Spanish, Arabic, French, and Russian. Chinese investment to influence U.S. politics in the past six years topped $280 million—more than any other foreign country.5 In 2016, Xi Jinping clearly articulated his goals for CCP outreach: “Wherever the readers are, wherever the viewers are, that is where propaganda reports must extend their tentacles.”6 

Beijing’s approach to public diplomacy distinguishes itself from that of other states by marrying its propaganda and outreach with censorship. Over the last ten years, China has increased investments and begun to use economic leverage to censor negative reporting and commentary in other countries.7 Beijing censors content abroad by using its diplomats to put direct pressure on journalists to change the narrative; economic incentives encouraging editors and journalists to publish CCP-friendly content; indirect pressure via proxies, such as pressuring technology companies to remove applications from online stores or threatening journalists with defamation suits; and cyberattacks or online harassment targeting individuals or agencies publishing derogatory content about China. 

Beijing’s overt influence operation through its global outreach is aimed at changing the public narrative about China. It achieves this by controlling the information flow, both at home and abroad. 

United Front Works Department

While China’s efforts to expand its global media presence were largely overt, Party officials, diplomats, and intelligence officers were simultaneously working to architect a covert influence network to target Western, and specifically American, elites. This network included CCP-controlled front organizations, deceptively operated think tanks, and extensive courtship of Western scholars and diplomats.

Recently, the United States has taken a more hardline approach to revealing China’s deceptive influence activities, particularly those of China’s United Front Work Department (UFWD). In 2018, the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission explicitly named the UFWD for being deceptively involved in influence activities. The Commission’s report states that UFWD-related organizations have an increasing role in foreign policy and are intentionally evasive and deceptive.8 Specifically, the UFWD pursues connections that are difficult to publicly prove and are interwoven with sensitive social, political, or ethnic issues, making it politically costly for individuals to call out the negative effects of such influence.9 

The CCP has a long history with the ‘united front.’ In a 1939 Party journal, Mao Zedong explained the relationship between the ‘three magic weapons’: “the Party is the heroic warrior wielding the two weapons, the united front and the armed struggle, to storm and shatter the enemy’s positions.”10 In 2022, Xi Jinping echoed Mao’s sentiment about the importance of the united front, stating that it “is an important assurance for [the CCP] to defeat the enemy, to govern and rejuvenate the country, and to rally all Chinese people both at home and abroad to realize national rejuvenation.”11 In the same speech, Xi encouraged the CCP to “win the hearts and minds” of people in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan as part of “national rejuvenation,” directly linking United Front Work with shaping public opinion.12 

In addition to efforts explicitly branded as UFWD projects, other United Front organizations include, but are not limited to: The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the patriotic organization overseeing the UFWD; the Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification, which supports the PRC’s efforts to assert control of Taiwan and has over 200 chapters in 90 countries; China Association for International Friendly Contact, which reports directly to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA); the Chinese Student and Scholars Association, which establishes groups at both Chinese and American universities that are run by Chinese embassies and consulates; and Confucius Institutes, the CCP Propaganda Department-sponsored education organizations that teach Chinese language, culture, and history at schools of all levels.13 

Two of the most prominent examples of China’s work through UFWD are the China Reform Forum and the focused targeting of elites, which showcase China’s methods and objectives of strategic influence campaigns.

In 1994, the CCP founded the China Reform Forum to serve as the outward-facing academic research institution focused on China’s reform and opening. The official website for the China Reform Forum highlights the Forum’s 20-year history studying China’s “peaceful development,” and establishing dialogues with research institutions in more than 20 countries including the United States and its key allies.14 While the Forum may look like a traditional, Western-inspired think tank, recent findings suggest otherwise. 

Joske carefully outlines the history of the Forum and its entanglement with the MSS in Spies and Lies. He explains that the MSS, through the Forum, quietly but publicly began courting Western officials by employing MSS spies as “scholars” supportive of the liberalization of China. Joske suggests that the MSS’s “most brilliant decision was to bring on board leading Chinese thinkers who were seen in the West as liberal and reformist. China Reform Forum, the think tank tailor-made by the MSS for influencing the outside world, was at the center of these operations.”15 Using the cover of an academic research institution, leaders at the Forum embedded it into elite foreign policy circles. 

The China Reform Forum was soon holding joint conferences with well-respected foreign policy organizations in the United States. Scholars affiliated with the Forum were asked to speak at prominent U.S. policy conferences and events. It was an overt, yet deceptive, long-view influence operation that government officials and academics in the West failed to see. As Joske explains, 

[T]hese methods meant that MSS officers were playing a different game to Western intelligence agencies, striking at unprotected parts of democratic systems. When the FBI was looking for sophisticated espionage operations or the theft of defense technology, China Reform Forum and other influence operations seemed insignificant.16

Channels like the China Reform Forum enabled a targeted, one-on-one approach to PRC influence operations geared towards influencing elites in the United States. Peter Mattis, an expert on PRC intelligence services, describes China’s approach to targeting elites as “seem[ing] to focus on individuals rather than effects, on shaping the personal context rather than operational tricks.”17 The PRC uses this approach in multiple sectors—targeting elites in journalism to influence the type of stories published about the CCP, courting U.S. scholars and academics with trips to China, and grooming up-and-coming politicians in the United States. In fact, in 2022, an unclassified U.S. Intelligence Advisory stated that China was likely to sway midterm races to “hinder candidates perceived to be particularly adversarial to China.”18 Similarly, the FBI reported an uptick in investigations of PRC agents influencing U.S. political races. Most infamously, in 2020, Axios reported that an advisor to Congressman Eric Swalwell was a suspected PRC spy.19 

The CCP deploys this targeted influence by using the extensive network it has slowly built in the United States over the past several decades. China’s view on influence operations has always been part of a long-view strategy. MSS officers embedded themselves across political and cultural sectors in the United States. Joske explains “they could, quite literally, go to RAND Corporation conferences by day and eat dinner with their American agents by night.”20

Digital Information Campaigns 

The CCP has recently adopted tactics similar to Russian-style digital disinformation campaigns. Freedom House noted that from 2017-2019, the CCP displayed “new-found interest in aggressively using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube,” though none of those sources are available in China.21 In late 2019, Facebook and Twitter worked in tandem to uncover and expose a network of over 1,000 Chinese-backed bots that were attempting to sow discord in Hong Kong. In 2022, Meta published a report that outlined China’s disinformation campaign tactics on Facebook and Instagram, noting that this was the first PRC network Meta disrupted that focused on U.S. domestic politics ahead of the midterm elections and that there were also instances of Russian media amplifying PRC-originated influence operations.22 In December 2022, the CCP flooded Twitter with spam bots to manipulate the conversation and obscure reporting coming out of China about widespread protests against Beijing’s draconian Covid policies.23 

Data Collection as an Amplifier 

China is engaged in a global quest to collect mass amounts of data, both at home and abroad. Within China, the CCP collects data by using state-owned enterprises, surveillance technology, facial recognition technology on smart devices, and Party control over registration and licensing systems. Elsewhere, China is harvesting data through multiple means including corporate espionage, cyber operations, and social media.

In addition to disinformation campaigns on Western social media platforms, China has pushed for global adoption of platforms owned by PRC-based companies. Applications such as WeChat, a platform that combines instant messaging, electronic payments, group communication, and business services, are now used throughout Asia as the backbone of communication and electronic services. PRC politicians use WeChat to communicate with the Chinese diaspora around the world, including in the United States. Freedom House reported that “in the United States, Chinese Americans have reported censorship of WeChat posts in group conversations about local political issues, or had their accounts shut down after commenting about democratic parties’ victory in Hong Kong’s district council elections [in 2019].”24 

TikTok—an unavoidable topic in any discussion of PRC influence and online applications—exemplifies the potential PRC influence threat. The video-sharing application quickly became the most popular social media platform among Gen Z in the United States. TikTok claims that ByteDance, a PRC-based company, does not have access to its data, although some U.S. policymakers and government officials have moved to ban the app as a national security threat.25 FBI Director Christopher Wray stated in 2022 that “China’s government holds the key to TikTok’s recommendation algorithms…[which] allows [China’s government] to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations.”26 He also noted that the Chinese government also maintains the ability to collect user data. Apps like TikTok and WeChat demonstrate a growing challenge: as PRC-based companies develop applications that are popular in the rest of the world, other governments must decide if and how to engage. 

Lessons Learned: The U.S. Response to Cold War Soviet Influence Operations

During the Cold War, the United States experienced great power competition with an adversary that deployed influence operations. Thomas Rid explains in his book Active Measures that Soviet disinformation aimed “to ‘defame and discredit’ U.S. government departments and agencies in charge of national security and to ‘divide’ Western allies.”27 A 1981 paper published by the U.S. Department of State explained that Soviet influence operations included control of foreign press, distortion of documents and information, and exploitation of political figures, among others.28 While there are key differences between Soviet-style and CCP influence operations, evaluating successes and failures of the Cold War provides a starting point for determining how the United States should respond to PRC influence operations today. 

Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant: The Active Measures Working Group (1980s) 

The Active Measures Working Group (AMWG), formed early in the Reagan Administration, made revealing Soviet disinformation a primary goal, demonstrating that exposing the tactics, techniques, and procedures is an effective countermeasure to reduce the impact of influence operations and to build resiliency among the target population.

A 2012 National Defense University study called the AMWG a “notable exception” to the notion that interagency working groups are inefficient and ineffective, explaining that the AMWG “successfully established and executed U.S. policy on responding to Soviet disinformation…by expos[ing] many Soviet covert operations and rais[ing] the political costs of others by sensitizing foreign and domestic audiences.”29 Perhaps most notably, the group successfully shifted the opinion within the U.S. government and within Soviet leadership that Soviet influence campaigns mattered. The report points out that because of the group’s persistence, the national security bureaucracy “moved from believing that Soviet disinformation was inconsequential to believing it was deleterious to U.S. interests,” and eventually convinced Mikhail Gorbachev that disinformation campaigns against the United States were counterproductive.30

What made this working group successful where others had struggled? Two overarching qualities: intentional coordination and a narrow objective. The Department of State initially led the group (although it would later be housed under the United States Information Agency [USIA]), which included members from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Department of Defense, FBI, and the National Security Council (NSC). The group collaborated with Voice of America (VOA) to disseminate its counter-messages to Soviet disinformation. In addition to tight coordination across agencies, the group also had a clear goal of exposing Soviet influence campaigns. Its methodology for debunking Soviet influence campaigns was threefold: report, analyze (or attribute), and publish, known as RAP.31 The group’s first leader directed members to focus on facts, not ideological arguments, operating under the framework that exposing falsehoods would build the group’s credibility. The group’s report on the infamous Soviet disinformation campaign known as Operation Infektion, which blamed the AIDS epidemic in Africa on the United States, is credited for forcing the Kremlin to disown the story.32 The structure and mission of the AMWG resulted in discrediting Soviet influence. 

Public Diplomacy is Vital for Winning the Information War 

Directly addressing influence operations and providing truthful counternarratives may be effective when done through trusted channels, such as USIA which became the hub of public diplomacy during the Cold War. 

In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower established USIA to “understand, inform, and influence foreign publics in promotion of the U.S. national interest, and to broaden the dialogue between Americans and U.S. institutions and their counterparts abroad.”33 Eisenhower’s Committee on International Information Activities (also known as the Jackson Committee) had recommended establishing a permanent agency in charge of disseminating information to foreign populations.34  Previously, the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 established the mission of public diplomacy under the Department of State’s Office of Public Affairs. The creation of USIA signified a more targeted focus on and prioritization of influence operations. 

USIA’s primary activities included publishing written materials such as pamphlets, leaflets, and magazines; establishing a global library system; disseminating material to key individuals within the Soviet Union; and producing VOA, the state-owned news network and radio broadcasting service.35 During the Cold War, VOA reached over 100 million people in 40 different languages and published nearly 30 million copies of written material annually.36  The success of USIA’s activities is difficult to measure, though the Soviet Union invested an estimated $750 million USD to $1.2 billion USD annually in jamming radios broadcasting its content.37

USIA was disbanded in 1999, and the information and cultural exchange functions were rolled under the Department of State’s Public Affairs Bureau and the broadcasting services were consolidated under a newly minted Broadcasting Board of Governors, now known as the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). 

Countering Influence Abroad & Building Resiliency at Home Requires a Whole-of-Society Approach

Because influence operations target entire populations, responding to and countering them requires action from public sector agencies, the private sector, and academia. The two examples below from the Cold War show how the U.S. government’s struggle to organize a whole-of-society approach to the global battle of ideologies hampered its attempts to counter Soviet influence operations.  

Prior to the creation of USIA in 1953, there was not a clear government lead for addressing Soviet influence, resulting in a wide range of agencies and departments attempting to play a role. In 1950, the CIA covertly established and funded the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), an anti-communist advocacy group that aimed to disprove the Soviet talking point that liberal democracy was not compatible with culture. At its peak, the CCF “had offices in thirty-five countries, employed dozens of personnel, published over twenty prestige magazines, held art exhibitions, owned a news and features service, organized high-profile international conferences, and rewarded musicians and artists with prizes and public performances.”38 However, CCF’s reputation was compromised when the CIA’s involvement in the organization was revealed in 1967.  

In addition to CIA efforts, President Harry S. Truman requested almost $90 million USD from Congress in 1950 to enhance the Department of State’s information operation capabilities. In response, the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), the covert arm of the CIA, submitted budget requests to drastically enhance OPC’s operations in the space and requested an outside working group of experts in the field of influence operations, resulting in a working group named Project Troy. Project Troy convened experts from Harvard and MIT, including an engineer, a physicist, an economist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and others from outside the two universities.39 The original goal was to propose ways to improve the U.S. government’s technological capabilities for psychological warfare, specifically on options for circumventing the Soviet jamming of radio transmitters behind the Iron Curtain and throughout the Soviet bloc. However, due to a lack of leadership and oversight, the group expanded its own scope and produced a report on all aspects of psychological warfare, which was deemed unhelpful by OPC. 

Though they both resulted in small successes, the CCF and Project Troy failed to fully materialize because they operated under a dispersed management structure and without a clear mission. These two examples show the importance of a coordinated, whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to countering foreign influence.

Radio broadcasts during the Cold War provided a channel for the U.S. government to communicate with foreign populations. The following case study highlights how two organizations partnered to disseminate truthful information abroad.  

Case Study: Radio Free Europe & Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)

Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty—originally two distinct organizations—were established in 1953 and 1956, respectively. The idea for RFE and RL resulted from a collaboration between George Kennan with the Department of State and Frank Wisner with OPC.40 The goal of RFE/RL was to utilize the talents and connections of post-World War II Soviet and Eastern European immigrants in support of American foreign policy abroad. The broadcasts supported evolutionary change while not explicitly advocating for uprisings. Many of the broadcasts featured dissidents or opposition leaders, with the primary goal of disseminating information into the Soviet bloc, including commentary on local news not covered in traditional state media. 

Similar to the Soviet response to VOA broadcasts, RFE/RL broadcasts were targeted by Soviet jamming techniques, hinting that Soviet leaders acknowledged the impact and influence of the RFE/RL broadcasts. The official RFE/RL website notes, “One such leader, Nobel laureate Lech Walesa, told an audience in 1989 that the role played by the radios in Poland’s struggle for freedom ‘cannot even be described. Would there be earth without the sun?’”41 RFE/RL, like VOA, now sits underneath the USAGM and is headquartered in the Czech Republic. 

U.S. Options to Counter Chinese Influence Today

The United States should learn from its Cold War experience and apply these lessons to its current efforts to combat PRC influence operations by implementing the following recommendations:

Fund Open-Source Centers and Research to Publicly Reveal PRC Influence Operations

One of the most effective ways to decrease the harm from influence operations and campaigns of deception is simply to expose the actors and motives behind them. The 118th Congress, specifically the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, should recommend an allocation of funds for open-source researchers and academic centers to investigate and reveal Chinese influence campaigns. Two of Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI)’s priorities for the Committee—ending the CCP’s theft of American personal data and intellectual property and contrasting the CCP’s techno-totalitarian state with the values of the Free World—are closely interconnected with PRC influence operations.42 Establishing a funding mechanism for open-source research on Chinese influence operations would directly support these priorities by using the exposure of PRC-backed information campaigns and nefarious data collection as both an educational tool for the American public and as a deterrent to the Chinese. Most importantly, establishing the norm of bringing Chinese influence operations to light will make the United States more resilient to future campaigns. By publishing the findings of this research, Congress can begin to build a cache of documented Chinese influence campaigns and develop resiliency to similar future campaigns. 

Prioritize Legislation on Data Privacy 

Passing comprehensive legislation on data privacy is key for building private and public sector resiliency to long-term PRC efforts to collect and deploy user data in influence operations. The 118th Congress should view data privacy legislation as imperative for resiliency and make passing it a top priority. It is in the United States’ best interest to create its own data privacy laws to protect American users and to show unity with its allies, such as the European Union which has already implemented its own data privacy regulatory regime. The American Data Privacy and Protection Act proposed in 2022 outlines 17 permitted purposes for companies to collect and store data on users. Congress should support this bipartisan legislation and add specific callouts for Chinese-owned companies operating in the United States. 

Increase Understanding of Influence Operations and Public Diplomacy Acumen

The executive branch should establish incentives and mechanisms for key stakeholders in federal, state, local, and tribal agencies to complete training in foreign influence operations and public diplomacy. The Global Engagement Center at the Department of State and the newly mandated Foreign Malign Influence Center could serve as the Centers of Excellence and provide rotational opportunities and training on public diplomacy and countering influence operations. For example, stakeholders such as local law enforcement officials could complete rotations to learn about CCP-backed influence campaigns targeting U.S. citizens in their areas of responsibility. 

Additionally, Dr. John Lenczowski, former National Securtiy Agency director who supported the Active Measures Working Group, suggests mandating that any career official complete training and experience in conducting public diplomacy and understanding foreign influence campaigns.43 Government employees involved in foreign policy, such as Foreign Service Officers, defense attachés, international development and aid workers, and military personnel involved in foreign civilian outreach should undergo enhanced training on both CCP-specific influence operations and public diplomacy courses.

The executive branch should acknowledge the growing threat of foreign influence operations and the interconnectedness of influence operations with broader foreign policy and national security considerations by integrating experience at either of the centers with necessary rotations in civilian careers. 

Invest in Interagency Efforts to Counter Chinese Influence Operations

Finally, the NSC should coordinate an interagency working group modeled after the Active Measures Working Group and focused specifically on modernizing U.S. efforts to identify, counter, and assess the impact of Chinese influence operations. As Chinese influence operations proliferate to more nodes of society, the working group should incorporate perspectives from the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the intelligence community, the Federal Election Commission, and representatives from the private sector and academia to support both education and collaboration on identifying and addressing the tentacles and impacts of PRC influence. The working group’s mandate might include testing out tools to measure the reach and impact of foreign disinformation online, determining impact evaluation criteria for assessing the success of U.S. efforts to counter Chinese influence operations, and compiling and maintaining a list of techniques and signatures of PRC-backed campaigns. The modern information environment will require new ways of measuring the effectiveness of U.S. public diplomacy beyond traditional methods. 

By improving the government’s ability to identify and track influence operations and determining success criteria for countering foreign information campaigns, the working group would provide a foundation and path ahead for the global war of ideas. 


As China continues to court countries through economic investments, collect data on social media users throughout the world, place academics in positions of influence, and build an infrastructure to disseminate pro-CCP messaging, the U.S. government can organize a whole-of-society approach to discredit the operations and to build resiliency among the American public. The government can do this by revealing PRC influence campaigns, passing data privacy legislation, emphasizing public diplomacy, and revitalizing public-private working groups. 

The stakes are high. The adversary is formidable. The United States has previously faced a great power adversary that deployed sophisticated influence operations, and the United States emerged victorious. It can do so again, but it must start to compete.


Image: A newsstand in Peak Tower mall shop, April 2020, from, Retrieved from:, used under Wikimedia Commons.

[1] “Chinese Political Interference Has Western Spooks Worried,” The Economist, 21 April 2022, 

[2] Sarah Cook, “Beijing’s Global Megaphone,” Freedom House, 2020,

[3] Alex Joske, Spies and Lies: How China’s Greatest Covert Operations Fooled the World, (S.l. Hardie Grant Books, 2022), 191.

[4] Joske, Spies and Lies, 192.

[5] Lachlan Markay, “China Increases Foreign Influence Efforts on US by 500%,” Axios, 11 May 2021,

[6] Cook, “Beijing’s Global Megaphone.”

[7] Cook, “Beijing’s Global Megaphone.”

[8] Alex Bowe, “China’s Overseas United Front Work: Background and Implications for the United States,” US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, 24 August 2018,

[9] “China’s Overseas United Front Work: Background and Implications for the United States,” US- China Economic and Security Review Commission. 

[10] Peter Mattis and Alex Joske, “The Third Magic Weapon: Reforming China’s United Front,” War on the Rocks, 24 June 2019, 

[11] Simone McCarthy, “‘Win Hearts and Minds’ in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Chinese Leader Xi Urges Communist Party,” CNN, 1 August 2022, 

[12] McCarthy, “Win Hearts and Minds in Taiwan.”

[13] “China’s Overseas United Front Work: Background and Implications for the United States,” US- China Economic and Security Review Commission.

[14] “About Us,” China Reform Forum, 

[15] Joske, Spies and Lies, 163.

[16] Joske, Spies and Lies, 94.

[17] Peter Mattis, “Contrasting China’s and Russia’s Influence Operations,” War on the Rocks, 16 January 2018, 

[18] Joshua Kurlantzick, “China’s Growing Attempts to Influence US Politics,” Council on Foreign Relations, 31 October 2022, 

[19] Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, “Exclusive: Suspected Chinese spy targeted California politicians,” Axios, 8 December 2020, 

[20] Joske, Spies and Lies, 190. 

[21] Cook, “Beijing’s Global Megaphone.”

[22] Ben Nimmo and Mike Torrey, “Taking down Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior from Russia and China,” Facebook CIB Reports, September 2022, 

[23] Joseph Menn, “Twitter grapples with Chinese spam obscuring news of protests,” The Washington Post, 27 November 2022, 

[24] Cook, “Beijing’s Global Megaphone.”

[25] Joseph Menn,“US lawmakers introduce bill to ban TikTok,” CNN, 13 December 2020, 

[26] “Chinese Political Interference Has Western Spooks Worried,” The Economist.

[27] Thomas Rid, Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare, (New York: Picador, 2021), 146. 

[28] Special Report 88, “Soviet Active Measures: Forgery, Disinformation, Political Operations,” (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, 1981), CIA-RDP84B00049R001303150031-0.pdf. 

[29] Fletcher Schoen and Christopher Lamb, “Strategic Perspectives – National Defense University,” Institute for National Strategic Studies, 

[30] Schoen and Lamb, “Strategic Perspectives – National Defense University.”

[31] Calder Walton, “What’s Old Is New Again: Cold War Lessons for Countering Disinformation,” Texas National Security Review, 15 February 2023, 

[32] Rid, Active Measures.

[33] Joseph Duffy, “United States Information Agency,” Accessed 16 March 2023,

[34] William Chodkowski, “The United States Information Agency,” American Security Project, November 2012. 

[35] Chodkowski, “The United States Information Agency.” 

[36]SabrinaMcCubbin, Cody Poplin, and Ashley Deeks, “Addressing Russian Influence: What Can We Learn from US Cold War Counter-Propaganda Efforts?” Lawfare, 31 October 2019,; Robert E. Elder, The Information Machine: The United States Information Agency and American Foreign Policy (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1968).

[37] David B. Ottaway, “After 35 Years, Soviets Stop Jamming of US Broadcasts,” The Washington Post, 1 December 1988, 

[38] Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper?: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War, (London: Granta, 2000).

[39] Audra Wolfe, “Project Troy: How Scientists Helped Refine Cold War Psychological Warfare,” The Atlantic, 1 December 2018, 

[40] “History RFE/RFL,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,

[41] “History RFE/RFL,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

[42] “Gallagher Outlines Vision for Select Committee on China,” Office of Congressman Mike Gallagher, 9 December 2022, 

[43] John Lenczowski (Former member of AMWG) in discussion with the author, 12 January 2023. 

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