All CDDRL News News April 28, 2021

When Beijing Goes to Washington: Autocratic Lobbying Influence in Democracies

Professor Erin Baggot Carter tells us how autocratic lobbying affects political outcomes and media coverage in democracies.
United States Capitol Building from an angle
Photo by Harold Mendoza on Unsplash

On April 21, 2021, the APARC China Program hosted Professor Erin Baggott Carter, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Southern California, and Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. Her program, "When Beijing Goes to Washington: Autocratic Lobbying Influence in Democracies," explored how lobbying from China and China-based companies can affect policy in the United States. Professor Jean Oi, William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics and director of the APARC China Program, moderated the event.

Professor Baggot Carter based her talk on a dataset drawn from the public records of the US Foreign Agents Registration Act, which includes over 10,000 lobbying activities undertaken by the Chinese government between 2005 and 2019. According to Baggot Carter, the evidence suggests that Chinese government lobbying makes legislators at least twice as likely to sponsor legislation that is favorable to Chinese interests. Moreover, US media outlets that participated in Chinese-government sponsored trips subsequently covered China as less threatening. Coverage pivoted away from US-China military rivalry and the CCP’s persecution of religious minorities and toward US-China economic cooperation. These results suggest that autocratic lobbying poses an important challenge to democratic integrity. Watch now: