The Meddling Kingdom’s threat to democracy

Spying on voters is an important tool of Beijing's foreign policy as elections loom across the region.

Over the next six months, national elections will be held in Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and India, while a mid-term ballot is slated for the Philippines. Polls are normally respected as internal affairs, but meddling by hardliners in the Chinese politburo is challenging old norms.

Ironically, China is the first to complain — and loudly — at the slightest hint of interference in its domestic affairs or within its self-proclaimed sphere of influence.

But as John Selden, the 17th century English jurist and scholar, put it: Preachers say, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ It’s an attitude that empire builders have adopted since the dawn of history, and Beijing is no exception in the Belt and Road era.

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