Investigative journalist David Rose reveals the gob-smacking and dangerous naivete Western environmentalists, activists and changemakers have permitted themselves in relation to the Communist Party of China.
Investigative journalist David Rose looks at the ways in which elite members of the climate movement in Western democracies have been swept into China’s pocket as ‘useful idiots’ to the Communist Party, blind to President Xi Jinping’s ambition to achieve global supremacy by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the Maoist revolution. They may believe they are acting for the common good without realizing they are, in reality, targets of ‘discourse control’ — a term the Party uses to describe its strategy for shaping the way the world thinks and talks about China, presenting the government in a favourable light.
Excerpt from the article:
This year, for what it’s worth, [Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, Chairman of the Grantham Centre on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, and a longstanding government adviser who wrote a report for Blair’s Labour government on the need to go green] has called on China to stop building new coal-fired plants. But he still spoke at this year’s CCICED [China Council for International Co-operation on Environment and Development], while his spokesman told me that China remained “keen to learn from the UK’s example of world-leading action on climate change” and said the rate of increase in its emissions had slowed enormously. While this may be true, China’s emissions continued to rise even through the pandemic, and now exceed the total produced by the rest of the developed world.
On paper, at least, you might argue there’s no harm in that. After all, the CCICED’s “mission” is to build “a more beautiful China and a green and bountiful world”. Who could possibly object?
Hardly anyone, I suspect, until they learnt that, the CCICED’s Chinese members include not only top Party bosses but officials who work with China’s United Front Work Department, one of the CCP’s main instruments for exerting influence abroad. Among them is Li Xiaolin, a top party cadre and the daughter of China’s late president Li Xiannan. Until recently, she was the chair of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries — which, as Hamilton and Ohlberg show in their book, is one of China’s most important foreign influence organisations.
What does this mean in practice? According to Patricia Adams, director of the Toronto-based environmental think tank Probe International, in 2017 a new Chinese law forced foreign NGOs there to submit to “close supervision” by the Ministry of Public Security, responsible for crushing dissent and controlling China’s secret police. Any organisation deemed to have “harmed the national interest” risks having its assets seized, its staff jailed, and being permanently banned.
Adams knows this fully well: in 2014, when the new law was being discussed, two Chinese academics she was working with were arrested and later jailed, and Probe International named as co-conspirators. Their crime? “Picking quarrels and provoking troubles” for speaking out on issues such as the rule of law. After that, Adams tells me, “it was no longer safe for us to work in China”. As for the Western environmentalists who still do, she adds: “They hope they can influence China’s leadership. But they are also aware that for them, to publicly criticise China’s policy would be suicide.”
Take, for example, the aforementioned CIFF, whose Chief Executive attended the CCICED gathering in September. Along with the WWF and ClientEarth, it has a branch in China which is subject to CCP control. There, the CIFF employs one Wang Yi as its “independent adviser on climate projects”. As chance would have it, he also happens to be a high-ranking member of China’s puppet parliament, the National People’s Congress.
To what extent that compromises his impartiality is anyone’s guess. But it is striking that the CIFF — a registered UK charity — gives away millions of pounds to projects in China. These include an £18 million grant to “help contribute to peaking China’s emissions”, £14 million to give China “evidence-based recommendations” for renewable energy, and, most astonishingly of all, £8 million to assist China “in global climate governance”.
This might not matter quite so much were Sir Christopher and the CIFF not prominent funders of green causes in Britain and Europe. He has personally given £50,000 to Extinction Rebellion, with a further £150,000 from the CIFF. When these payments emerged in 2019, Hohn said: “I recently gave them £50,000 because humanity is aggressively destroying the world with climate change and there is an urgent need for us all to wake up to this fact.”
But not, apparently, to China’s role in it. When I asked an Extinction Rebellion spokesperson why they never said anything about China, she told me: “It would be divisive to put pressure on one particular nation. It would be hypocritical.”
Yet the CIFF’s China connection extends well beyond Extinction Rebellion: it is also the biggest funder of the European Climate Foundation, based in Brussels but with an office in London, to which the CIFF donated £29 million last year. Strikingly, the ECF’s deputy chair is a familiar figure: the CIFF’s Kate Hampton.