Lincoln Salon Dinner: Answering China’s Sharp Power
Date(s) - Feb. 19, 2020
6:00 pm - 9:30 pm
In the wake of China’s crackdown against democratic protestors in Hong Kong and recent public reports of the mass incarceration of Uighur minorities, the world can no longer ignore the Chinese Communist Party’s troubling human rights record. Yet answering China’s sharp power strategy poses a challenge to government, the private sector, and civil society.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) regularly uses the instruments of national power to subvert and coerce democratic governments and civil society institutions to advance its international objectives. The PRC’s tactics have included economic warfare, cyber and traditional espionage, educational campaigns, and global infrastructure development. From the Thousand Talents’ campaign to the Belt and Road initiative, the Chinese government is pursuing a global grand strategy to control information, limit human rights, and undermine democratic governance.
The United States government is working to address specific and tactical challenges, including recent initiatives to limit the use of certain Chinese information technology equipment. Yet U.S. policymakers and civil society leaders continue to struggle to answer the Chinese challenge. In addition to answering the sharp power threat, the United States must rethink its own grand strategy for shaping the world to its advantage, including to promote American values.
Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs are on the frontlines of the day-to-day struggle to answer China’s sharp power. American innovation, free enterprise, and educational opportunity are among the nation’s strongest soft power assets. Yet leading companies and civil society institutions face strong economic pressure to conform to China’s interests.
In 2020, national policymakers and private sector leaders are considering the following challenges:
– What is the responsibility of the public and private sectors to defend human rights and liberty in the face of Chinese totalitarianism and sharp power pressure?
– How can the United States use its strategic advantages—including its economic power and ability to attract people from across the world—to promote liberty, human rights, and democratic values?
The dinner’s discussion will be held under Chatham House rules to encourage a candid discussion about these challenging issues. Our aim is to encourage future scholarship, policy development, and collaboration among participants. Before the dinner, we will circulate an agenda and a few suggested reading materials to help inform the discussion.