Xi Jinping

The all-powerful, all-knowing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recently revealed that it had set up a branch at the University of California’s Davis campus. The news caused consternation among academics in the US and, indeed, around the world.

The intention was to create a branch that Chinese academics from around the US, who were concerned about the way China’s image was being projected, could join. Although it was dissolved within a week following fears its establishment might have breached local laws, its brief existence served as the latest reminder of the already significant network of soft power China wields through political donations, Chinese language media ownership and the blandly named -- but immensely powerful -- United Front Work Department (UFWD). It is unlikely to be the last such attempt.