From Democracy Digest
Had Ronald Reagan’s Westminster speech merely articulated the case for democracy, it would be remembered as one of many well-written and inspiring presidential addresses. It was, on the contrary, much more: It represented a plan of action, a strategy to establish the infrastructure of democracy, notes Richard Fontaine, the chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).
The institutions to which his speech gave rise—the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, Center for International Private Enterprise, and the Solidarity Center—endure to this day, and their work around the world remains vital, he writes for the American Interest.
But they now operate on sharply contested terrain, Fontaine adds. China is deploying what the National Endowment for Democracy terms “sharp power,” designed to “pierce, penetrate, or perforate the information and political environments in the targeted countries.” Beijing is building political influence in target countries and constructing an expansive, illiberal sphere of influence that is hostile to U.S. leadership.
As The Economist explained, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria observes, that meant leveraging economic weight to influence lawmakers and suppress criticism abroad. (As an example, the magazine pointed to China’s economic punishment of Norway after a pro-democracy Chinese activist won a Nobel Prize.) China is still at it, and Drew Thompson writes for the South China Morning Post of a growing backlash.
Read the full article here.