Uncovering China’s Influence in Europe: How Friendship Groups Coopt European Elites

In this study, Senior Fellow Toshi Yoshihara and Research Fellow Jack Bianchi examine how some European civic organizations, established ostensibly to foster ties with China, have helped to enhance the CCP’s power. Drawing from Chinese-language sources, the report assesses how “friendship groups” in Europe—and the coopted European political and business elites that lead them—serve as mouthpieces and intermediaries for advancing Beijing’s domestic priorities and foreign policy goals. Yoshihara and Bianchi conclude that European authorities and civil society are in a good position to implement measured approaches and policies to better understand, monitor, and push back against unwelcome aspects of Beijing’s influence campaign.