- China Index 2022 measures Beijing’s overseas influence in 82 country profiles across the nine domains of military, domestic politics, law enforcement, media, academia, society, economy, foreign policy and technology
- China has been ramping up attempts to win hearts and minds of citizens of various countries through language & media campaigns
By Ghulam Haider
Pakistan has been ranked at the top of the list of the countries, which are the most exposed to China’s influence in the domains of military, foreign policy and technology in China Index 2022. Cambodia and Singapore are second and third in this list, while Paraguay, North Macedonia and Albania are ranked as the least influenced countries.
Doublethink Lab and China in the World Network have compiled China Index 2022 as their first cross-regional project, which objectively measures and visualizes China’s overseas influence in 82 country profiles across the nine domains of military, domestic politics, law enforcement, media, academia, society, economy, foreign policy and technology.
The indicators of these domains are based on factual evidence provided by local experts, which were reviewed, quantified and normalized to understand whether the phenomenon is observed or not for the country profile and domain rankings.
According to the China Index 2022, Beijing has 97.7 per cent influence in the domain of technology in Pakistan while it has 80 per cent influence in the domain of army in Pakistan, and its foreign policy is 81 per cent influenced by China.
China’s influence on Pakistan’s education sector is measured at 62 per cent, which is based on, and is substantiated by Beijing’s generosity towards students’ exchange programmes and other investment in Pakistan’s education system with around 25,000 Pakistanis learning Chinese at home and another 22,000 Pakistani students in China.
China has influence over 52 per cent of Pakistan’s media, which is usually sugarcoated in the name of Pakistan-China long-lasting brotherhood and all-weather friendship. The China Index 2022 highlights this influence on the basis of the coverage of China’s projects and activities besides advertisements worth millions of rupees. The financial pressures facing Pakistan’s private media houses have contributed to increasing domestic buy-in for news sharing agreements with Chinese media organizations.
China’s influence in the domain of economy on Pakistan is 54.5 per cent, and it is mainly due the fact that Beijing is the biggest loan provider to Islamabad. Further, China has deepened its economic engagement with Pakistan through elite-centered negotiations over the routes and projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has intensified its economic engagement with Pakistan by cultivating influential political elites.
China’s influence in the domain of society is 43.2 per cent on Pakistan because of the adaptive Chinese strategies that accommodate and work within local realities are mostly ignored by policymakers in particular. At the same time, Chinese government policies are serving as push factor to incentivize Chinese actors to expand their interactions in different segments of Pakistani society.
In the domain of law enforcement, China has 47.60 per cent influence over Pakistan while it has 52.8 per cent influence in the domain politics over Pakistan. China is increasing its outreach across Pakistani political spectrum by developing ties with various political parties. Through programs like the CPEC’s Joint Consultative Mechanism, China seeks to build a political consensus across Pakistan’s fractious political divide to galvanize support for the CPEC and broader Chinese interests in the country.
Experts say China has been ramping up attempts to win the hearts and minds of citizens of various countries through language, traditional media and social media campaigns, echoing the cultural firepower.
“We have learnt from the experience of the US, the UK and other Western countries – but now, it’s time for the world to understand China,” said Chen Xiang, a correspondent coordinating state-run China Radio International’s wide-ranging presence in Pakistan.
“We want to tell the people the truth about China, what real China is … through radio programs, through TV and through other cultural activities we can do this.”
“China is interested in improving its soft power all across the world,” says Dr Kiran Hassan, Research Associate Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, adding Pakistanis were responding with enthusiasm.
The US and the UK are ranked 21 and 27 respectively in the domains of academia, domestic politics and media influence of China. While India is ranked 55 in the China’s influence in the domains of military, foreign policy and law enforcement.
The media domain evaluates how (China’s) entities influence public debate and media coverage about China in the surveyed country. The academia domain measures how China attempts at the state level to restrict academic freedom by influencing or interfering with the surveyed country’s academic and educational activities.
The economy domain measures the China’s economic leverage in the surveyed country, and how this is used to influence economic policy or corporate behavior in ways that favor Beijing. The society domain measures the extent and effectiveness of China’s efforts to advance its soft power in the surveyed country, including its influence over the actions and views of local organizations and citizens.
The military domain gauges the bilateral military relationship between China and the surveyed country, including Beijing’s efforts to influence local military personnel. The law enforcement domain measures law enforcement cooperation between China and the surveyed country, as well as the nature and extent of China-related criminal activity in the surveyed country.
The technology domain gauges China’s influence over the technology sector in the surveyed country, including the activity and financial leverage of Chinese companies, use of China’s hardware and bilateral research partnerships.
The domestic politics domain evaluates China’s efforts to influence the political landscape in the surveyed country, and the footprint of Chinese security companies. While, the foreign policy domain gauges China’s efforts to achieve diplomatic objectives by influencing key actors in the surveyed country.