Online Event: “Compromising the Knowledge Economy: Authoritarian Challenges to Independent Intellectual Inquiry”

May 11, 2020
12:00 pm - 01:15 pm


about the event

In many countries, traditional state censorship and repression are resurgent. But freer societies, which are uniquely dependent on civil society institutions such as universities and publishers for knowledge production, face a new class of threat: authoritarian regimes—primarily China, but also Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others—are exploiting unanticipated vulnerabilities in open knowledge economies to challenge free intellectual inquiry from the inside. Concerns about China’s censorship and manipulation of research around the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the urgency of addressing authoritarian efforts to subvert the free exchange of information. In the report, Compromising the Knowledge Economy: Authoritarian Challenges to Independent Intellectual Inquiry,” Glenn Tiffert describes how these authoritarian regimes target the academic, publishing, and think tank sectors of open societies by working systematically to coopt foreign partners, marginalize or intimidate dissenters, control discourse, and push for globalizing their preferred narratives. Tiffert also outlines a multi-tiered strategy through which democratic civil societies can begin to respond. Michele Dunne provided comments.



Glenn Tiffert, Hoover Institution


with comments from

Michele Dunne, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Moderated by

Christopher Walker, National Endowment for Democracy


about the report

The report is part of a series on Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience published by NED’s International Forum, which seeks to systematically analyze the ways in which leading authoritarian regimes manipulate, distort, and shape the political landscape and censor independent expression within open societies. The series aims to contextualize the nature of sharp power, inventory key authoritarian efforts and domains, and illuminate ideas for non-governmental action that are essential to strengthening democratic resilience.


about the participants

Glenn Tiffert is a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and a historian of modern China. His research has centered on Chinese legal history, including publications on constitutionalism, the judiciary, and the genealogy of the rule of law in the PRC. His forthcoming book, entitled Judging Revolution, radically re-interprets the Mao era and the 1949 revolution by way of a deep archival dive into the origins of the PRC judicial system. His current research probes the ramifications of China’s rise for American interests. He works closely with government and university partners to strengthen resilience against authoritarian influence in the academic sector.

Michele Dunne is the director and a senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where her research focuses on political and economic change in Arab countries, particularly Egypt, as well as U.S. policy in the Middle East. She was the founding director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council from 2011 to 2013 and was a senior associate and editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin at the Carnegie Endowment from 2006 to 2011. From 1986 to 2003, she was a Middle East specialist at the U.S. Department of State, where she served in assignments that included the National Security Council, the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff, the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem, and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. She also served as a visiting professor of Arabic language and Arab studies at Georgetown from 2003 to 2006.

Christopher Walker is vice president for studies and analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy. In this capacity, he is a member of NED’s executive leadership team and oversees the department that is responsible for NED’s multifaceted analytical work, which includes the International Forum for Democratic Studies, the Journal of Democracy, and the Reagan-Fascell Fellowships Program. Prior to joining the NED, Mr. Walker was Vice President for Strategy and Analysis at Freedom House. He is co-editor with Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner of Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), and co-editor of the report Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence (2017).


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