Europe is in “complete denial” as China proceeds to spread its influence on the continent. At least that is the urgent, unequivocal view of Ivana Karásková, a Czech foreign influence specialist and a special adviser to European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová.
“In some countries, awareness of [Chinese influence operations] is high because they have a history of Russian-backed action. Elsewhere, it’s complete denial,” she told Politico. “It’s very uneven in terms of awareness. There are some countries where the discussion isn’t happening at all.”
Karásková was referring to what Politico calls China’s “direct propaganda” and “covert funding of think tanks, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations,” and she said, according to Politico, that “Beijing has long aimed propaganda at the European Union, seeking to undermine transatlantic unity and promote Beijing’s outlook on world affairs.”
“Asked what parts of the Continent were most in the dark about Chinese influence, she added: ‘The whole of Western Europe is not looking. And yet there are cases that are so blatant.'”
A particularly blatant example of willful blindness to Chinese interference in Western Europe is Britain. In July 2023, the UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament released a comprehensive report on China’s threat to the country, and how the Communist power seeks both political and economic influence.
The Committee found that China had “successfully penetrate[d] every sector of the UK’s economy,” and that “the Government has been so keen to take Chinese money that it has not been watching China’s sleight of hand.”
Astonishingly, the Committee discovered that “until recently, our Agencies did not even recognise that they had any responsibility for countering Chinese interference activity in the UK.”
The chair of the Committee, Sir Julian Lewis, noted why the UK is so important to China:
“China sees almost all of its global activity in the context of what it sees as the struggle between the United States and China, and therefore it sees the United Kingdom fundamentally through that optic. China aspires to split off from the United States countries which it thinks might be detachable, and they sometimes have a sunnily optimistic view about which countries might be susceptible to that treatment. I would say that that was their single biggest issue with the United Kingdom.”