China commands a comprehensive and flexible influencing toolset, ranging from the overt to the covert, primarily deployed across three arenas: political and economic elites, media and public opinion, and civil society and academia. In expanding its political influence, China takes advantage of the one-sided openness of Europe. Europe’s gates are wide open whereas China seeks to tightly restrict access of foreign ideas, actors and capital.
The effects of this asymmetric political relationship are beginning to show within Europe. European states increasingly tend to adjust their policies in fits of “preemptive obedience” to curry favor with the Chinese side.