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10Aug

Hidden Hand review – China's true global ambitions exposed

Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg’s startling book about how the Chinese Communist party has spread its tentacles throughout the world is vital reading

This is a remarkable book with a chilling message. The Chinese Communist party, for which dominating rural China in order to encircle its cities and win the civil war is part of its historic backstory, is now intent on doing the same internationally. Using whatever lever comes to hand – generously financing a thinktank in Washington, owning a part-share of Rotterdam port, encouraging “friendship” clubs like Britain’s 48 Group Club – it is aiming to create an international soft “discourse” and hard infrastructure that so encircles western power centres that the dominance of the party at home and abroad becomes unchallengeable.

China, we know, has very different definitions of terrorism, human rights, security and even multilateralism to those accepted internationally. The book spells them out and shows how intent the party is on winning international acceptance for them as vital buttresses to its power. Acts of terrorism include not eating pork or speaking out against one-party “democracy”, as the Uighurs and denizens of Hong Kong are learning. Human rights should be understood as the people’s collective right for Chinese-style economic and social development. Multilateralism means states acting in harmony with China and its view that economic development is the alpha and omega of all international purpose – the vision set out in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

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