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The CCP’s United Front: “Magic Weapon” or Paper Tiger?

The CCP’s United Front: “Magic Weapon” or Paper Tiger?

A panel discussion with Professor June Teufel Dreyer, Dr Gerry Groot and Professor Steve Tsang moderated by Martin Purbrick, 27 April 12.00 BST

“United Front Work is an important magic weapon for the victory of the party’s cause.” – Xi Jinping, October 2017

The united front approach of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is greatly misunderstood in western countries but is an integral part of how the CCP perpetually governs a one-party state. Since its formation in 1921, the CCP learnt from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union how in order for a single party to survive it must not only utilise the hard power of the state but also soft power to bring diverse factions of society into a united front dominated by the communist party. United Front is the soft power approach taken by the CCP, and has become more visible in western countries as the influence of China has expanded in the past several decades.
Our panelists will discuss the history of united front, how it is now used by the CCP, and whether we should be concerned about united front in our own countries. Our panelists are all accomplished scholars who have studied and written about the CCP united front.

Professor June Teufel Dreyer is a Senior Fellow in the Asia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami. She is a former Far East Specialist at the Library of Congress, Asia policy advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations and Commissioner of the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission. In 2018, Dr. Teufel Dreyer published ‘A weapon without war: China’s united front strategy’, which explained the increasing use of united front outside of China and the impact that this may have.

Dr. Gerry Groot is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Adelaide. He has long been interested in Chinese politics and political history and is well known for his work on the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work, particularly with China’s so-called democratic political parties. Dr. Groot has written extensively about United Front Work, including how it has changed during the tenure of President Xi Jinping.

Professor Steve Tsang is Director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. His research interests focus on twentieth-century Chinese history and the growing influence of the country politically and economically. Professor Tsang has written and commented regarding the nature of CCP influence in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and around the world. He is currently also working on a book on The Political Thought of Xi Jinping.

Martin Purbrick is a regular contributor to the RSAA journal Asian Affairs. He was until recently the Director of the Asia-Scotland Institute. Prior to that he worked in security and integrity risk management for over 32 years with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, McKinsey, Intel and the Royal Hong Kong Police Force.



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