Christopher Walker: “The World has become flatter for authoritarian Regimes”

7 February 2024. “As China has emerged as a global power, it has deepened its relationships with countries around the world,” writes Christopher Walker in his recent essay “The World Has Become Flatter for Authoritarian Regimes” in the Journal of Democracy. Walker is Vice President for Studies and Analyses at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and regularly participates in the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium.
“Many of the societies with which Beijing and its proxies are engaging, however, have only a superficial understanding of the way the world’s largest dictatorship operates,” writes Walker: “The deep knowledge gap about the Chinese party-state in much of the world represents a crucial asymmetry that works to the strategic advantage of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”
One example is Georgia, which is seeking a “strategic partnership” with China in the areas of politics, economics, human relations, media, and culture. This is dangerous because Georgia lacks unbiased knowledge about China in science, media and politics, and the Georgian system, “like so many others, is not equipped to reckon with the full implications of such comprehensive engagement with the Chinese party-state.”

“For democracies to safeguard their systems and retake the initiative, they will need to return to first principles, including those of free expression, openness, and accountability that can serve to recalibrate the asymmetries that are advantaging the autocracies,” Walker concluded. “To the extent that democracies remain underprepared, they will be consigned to reacting rather than taking the initiative or being positioned to set an agenda that privileges the principles of democratic accountability and human rights.”