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France Bedfellow with Chinese Communists

Close ties between France’s culture diplomacy and Chinese Communist Party

Sinopsis, a project run by Czech scholars to monitor Chinese influence in the Czech Republic and other countries, reveals in an article 11th May 2023 how France gets money from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to fund its most important diplomatic project – Roadmap for Influence – launched by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in December 2021.

The article, written pseudonymously by ‘René Bigey’, reveals the close ties between France’s “cultural and influence diplomacy” and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) controlled overseas projects of the so-called United Front. The United Front is known for its work to neutralize potential opposition to Chinese policies, e.g. the massive oppression of the Uyghurs.

Pansy Ho. License: CC Attr 2.0 Gen. Cropped
Jonathan Choi. License: CC Attr 3,0 Unp. Cropped

The Czech article shows how leading United Front figures like Hong-Kong based business tycoons Jonathan Choi and Pansy Ho “have become major donors to French cultural operations organised by French authorities. […] Their newfound status as major donors to French cultural events has enabled them to gain easy access to France’s top diplomats and to increase their network within French political elites. It has also helped legitimise some of the positions they publicly defend on behalf of the Chinese party-state”.

Introvigne focusing on France's anticult policy
Dr. Massimo Introvigne. Photo: FOREF

Massimo Introvigne, Italian sociologist of religion and leading authority on new religious movements, points out that in addition to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emmanuel Macron being bedfellows with the Chinese Communist Party, there is another group very much involved in this bizarre story. In an article in the online magazine Bitter Winter 18th May 2023, Introvigne writes,

“The third character, not mentioned in the Czech report but not unimportant, is the MIVILUDES, the French governmental agency combating ‘cults’. It is under constant criticism by NGOs, academic scholars, and the United States agencies producing reports on religious liberty for its systematic violations of freedom of religion or belief. It needs the French ‘cultural and influence diplomacy’ to support it internationally and persuade other countries that the French anti-cult fight is reasonable.

You do not need to take Bitter Winter’s word for this. The MIVILUDES itself explains in its reports that the French position on ‘cults’ – and ‘separatism’, i.e., the fight, regarded in some Muslim countries as Islamophobic, against communities that want to live ‘separately’ from the values of the majority, based on their religion – is not necessarily appreciated abroad. It adds that France is at work diplomatically to explain its reasons internationally, and persuade other countries to join the anti-cult fight. This is obviously part of French ‘cultural and influence diplomacy’.”

President Macron is all in favor of “cultural and influence diplomacy” playing an important role in his country’s foreign policy, as an expression of French “grandeur” and a way of exporting the values of “la République” internationally.

Introvigne underlines that the Chinese Communist Party, with its war on religion policy, is happy to lend support to the French positions on religious movements. He writes, “French private and governmental anti-cult organizations have cooperated with China since the early years of the persecution of Falun Gong.”

The Chinese Communist Party is also known for its involvement in the heavy persecution of the Family Federation in Japan by the Japanese Communist Party.

Featured image above: 6th April 2023. Emmanuel Macron, President of France, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, meeting Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China since 2013, during their visit to China. Photo: Dati Bendo / Wikimedia Commons. License: Attribution only

See also Discrimination Of Religious Minorities In EU

Text: Knut Holdhus


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