China Seminar | 13 February 2020

The Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department: The Sharp End of Xi Jinping's Soft Power Offensive

Richard H. Hornik Richard H. Hornik

Xi Jinping has aggressively expanded the overseas operations of the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department to become a powerful foreign policy tool. The UFWD promotes Beijing’s foreign policy agenda both by insinuating itself into local organizations abroad and by pressuring Chinese nationals and people of Chinese descent living in open societies to self-censor and to harass or undermine groups critical of Beijing’s policies. Once viewed as largely irrelevant, United Front work overseas is increasingly controversial as its tactics have become more overt and aggressive.

Richard Hornik is a journalist and educator with over 40 years of global experience: Executive Editor of AsiaWeek, news service director of Time, as well as Time’s bureau chief in Warsaw, Beijing and Hong Kong. He co-authored Massacre in Beijing: China’s Struggle for Democracy and has written for Foreign Affairs, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, The New York Times and Wall St. Journal. He has an M.A. in Russian studies from George Washington University and a B.A. in political science from Brown University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was Journalist-in-Residence at the East-West Center. He was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Hong Kong in 2012 and at UHM in Spring 2015, when he was the inaugural Daniel K. Inouye Visiting Scholar in School of Communications.