China Global Podcast

Think Globally, Act Locally: China’s Local Diplomacy Strategy

October 12, 2021

In a decades-long effort to expand its international “circle of friends,” the PRC has persisted in supplementing its national-level diplomacy with local exchanges. Over the past four decades, the PRC has forged more than 2000 sister-city relationships worldwide, including over 200 in the United States and over 350 in the EU. China forms these ties across the world through the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, a United Front organization that specializes in developing relationships with local business, political, and media figures abroad. But sister cities are only one of many avenues for Beijing to engage with local actors in order to realize its global aspirations.

Bonnie Glaser talks with Dr. Mareike Ohlberg about China’s strategy of local diplomacy and its importance in an environment of increasingly tense national-level relations. Dr. Mareike Ohlberg is a senior fellow with GMF’s Asia Program. Her research interests include China’s media and digital policies as well as the Chinese Communist Party’s influence campaigns in Europe. Mareike is co-author of the book Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World.