International Forum for Democratic Studies April 2021 Newsletter

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April 2021

The Sharp Power Exploitation of Emerging Technologies

This month, the International Forum for Democratic Studies published the final report of the Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience series, which describes how the authorities in China leverage emerging technologies to undercut democracies’ stability and legitimacy while expanding Beijing’s influence. In “Double-Edged Sword: China’s Sharp Power Exploitation of Emerging Technologies,” Dr. Samantha Hoffman analyzes how the PRC prioritizes regime security over essential rights, and uses technologies to monitor its populace and control society. Beijing’s active role in international standards-setting bodies enables the CCP to exploit emerging technologies to enhance its sharp power capabilities.

A final report that encapsulates findings from the entire Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience series is slated for release in June.

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Read more posts from the Power 3.0 Blog.

“Emerging technologies offer numerous conveniences and capabilities, benefitting consumers and governments alike; however, they also carry inherent risks that can threaten liberal democracies when leveraged by powerful dictatorships that wish to reinforce and spread their authoritarianism.”

Samantha Hoffman in “DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

The Global Insights Series | Transnational Kleptocracy and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Containing the Spread

The Forum published a new iteration of the Global Insights series, entitled “Transnational Kleptocracy and the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The collection, featuring analyses from the Forum’s Melissa Aten and seven experts in the field, assesses the intersection between COVID-19 and transnational kleptocracy, and how civil society and independent media can respond to new challenges posed by the pandemic.

Report | China’s Global Media Footprint: Democratic Responses to Expanding Authoritarian Influence

As part of the Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience series, Sarah Cook describes the Chinese Communist Party’s sharp power efforts to shape media content in “China’s Global Media Footprint.” The report considers how nongovernmental actors contribute to critical activities aimed at countering Beijing’s media influence while protecting democratic institutions around the world.

April 20201 Journal of Democracy | China’s Totalitarian Shadow

The Journal of Democracy published the April 2021 issue, featuring essays that examine the future of democracy, the information space, and elections in Uganda and Tanzania. It also includes analysis on China’s shadow of totalitarianism by Dr. Minxin Pei, who delivered the Seventeenth Annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture. This issue is available free of charge through May 15 at Project MUSE.

Power 3.0 | Democracy and the Next Big App: Three Questions for Assessing Risk

Dean Jackson and Rachelle Faust of the Forum authored a Power 3.0 Blog post entitled “Democracy and the Next Big App: Three Questions for Assessing Risk.” In this post, the authors consider how social media platforms can moderate content without infringing upon free expression, best practices for secure data collection, and ways in which companies can combat state-generated disinformation.

Power 3.0 | How to Help Civil Society’s Disinformation Researchers Flourish

The Forum’s Rachelle Faust and Daniel Cebul published a Power 3.0 Blog post entitled “How to Help Civil Society’s Disinformation Researchers Flourish,” which offers recommendations to enhance civil society responses to protect the integrity of the information space. Their analysis builds off of a recent working working paper from Samantha Bradshaw and Lisa-Maria Neudert, entitled “Mapping Civil Society Responses to Disinformation.”

NED Welcomes Spring 2021 Cohort of Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows

The National Endowment for Democracy and the International Forum for Democratic Studies are pleased to welcome DJ SwitchHaykuhi HarutyunyanPaul-Joel Kamtchang, and Youdon Aukatsang as Spring 2021 Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows. They join our program as leading democracy activists, practitioners, journalists, and scholars from their home countries of Nigeria, Armenia, Cameroon, and Tibet, respectively.

“It is imperative that anyone engaged in the media space—be they journalists, regulators, technology firms, press freedom groups, or even news consumers—acknowledge the influence exerted by China’s authoritarian regime on the news and information circulating in their print publications, radio broadcasts, television programs, and social media feeds.”

– Sarah Cook in “China’s Global Media Footprint


  • We have moved! Last month, the National Endowment for Democracy officially relocated to new headquarters at 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, in Washington, D.C. This move is the third in NED’s 37-year history of supporting democracy and its advocates around the world. The office accommodates growth in NED’s staff and features conference and event spaces that will increase the Endowment’s capacity for collaboration and outreach.
  • The International Forum for Democratic Studies is hiring! We are seeking candidates for the Senior Director opening at the International Forum. For more information, please visit the NED website.
  • Former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Peter Biar Ajak testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10, 2021 during a hearing on “The State of Democracy Around the World.”
  • The Forum’s Democracy Resource Center published its April 2021 Reading List, which includes new books and digital reports to the library.

Read more posts from the Power 3.0 Blog.


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