China’s Geopolitical Influence Around the World: Should We Be Worried?

Foreign Policy Brief #92 | By: Inijah Quadri | October 2, 2023

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In recent years, China’s geopolitical influence has been expanding across continents, leaving a distinct imprint on global politics, economics, and societies. This influence is wielded through economic initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), tech dominance, diplomatic engagements, and soft power avenues such as Confucius Institutes. The rapid ascent has initiated a discourse evaluating the repercussions and urging the international community to decipher whether China’s expanding footprint should be a matter of concern, specifically concerning economic dependence, cybersecurity, and democratic values. The international community finds itself at a crossroads, where it needs to strike a balance between harnessing opportunities arising from cooperation with China and mitigating potential risks.


Economic Dependence vs. Autonomous Growth:

China’s mammoth economic initiatives, such as the BRI, are seen as double-edged swords. On one hand, they promise to bolster economic growth in partnering nations through infrastructural development and increased trade avenues. On the other hand, they raise the specter of debt-trap diplomacy, whereby nations find themselves in a spiral of debt, essentially ceding significant control to China. Navigating this dynamic requires a nuanced approach, where nations engage with China but retain their economic autonomy through diversified partnerships and transparent agreements.

Cybersecurity and Digital Sovereignty:

China’s technological advancement comes with an intricate web of concerns surrounding cybersecurity and digital sovereignty. The deployment of Chinese tech infrastructure globally, including 5G networks, has raised alarms regarding potential espionage and data security. Countries are grappling with the choice between adopting advanced yet potentially vulnerable systems and safeguarding their digital landscapes. Addressing this issue calls for an international collaborative approach to formulating robust cybersecurity norms and standards, guided by the principles of transparency and mutual respect for digital sovereignty.

Democratic Values and Human Rights:

The rise of China presents a conflicting model juxtaposed against democratic values and human rights. The alleged human rights violations in regions like Xinjiang and the curtailing of freedoms in Hong Kong underscore the need for a global dialogue on preserving democratic values. The international community faces the imperative of fostering a dialogue that encourages adherence to universal human rights while engaging in constructive diplomacy with China.

Fostering Global Collaboration:

There are an increasing number of global issues that affect the well being of alll countries and all people; for example the issue of climate change where the well being of the planet cannot afford to have  individual countries like China continue to expand upon their use of fossil fuels. Or global health issues where nations need to be united in fighting world-wide pandemics and cannot afford having counties like China remain secretive about the origins or spread of Covid 19 within their borders

To craft a pathway forward, it is pivotal to foster international collaborations grounded in mutual respect and understanding. Countries must work together to develop strategies that leverage opportunities for economic growth, uphold cybersecurity standards, and champion the principles of democracy and human rights.

Engagement Resources:

  • Council on Foreign Relations ( The CFR provides in-depth analyses and reports on China’s geopolitical strategies and global relations, helping readers comprehend the intricacies of China’s evolving role on the world stage.
  • China Power Project ( This initiative by CSIS delves deep into the various dimensions of China’s rise as a global power, offering insights into its economic initiatives, military advancements, and soft power instruments.
  • Human Rights Watch ( For individuals keen on understanding the human rights dimension of China’s global engagements, HRW offers reports and analyses grounded in meticulous research, providing a comprehensive view of the prevailing human rights conditions in regions influenced by China’s policies.
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