Dimensions of Resurgent Authoritarian Influence

The events below comprise the key components of Resurgent Authoritarian Influence we are tracking. We define an event as an action by an authoritarian government to wield influence within a developing economy. An event is extracted from a news article and is coded using machine learning to one of the 22 types listed here. These event codings allow us to track RAI at high frequency, which in turn allows us to understand how these influence events affect civic space within a developing economy. This in turn gives us the ability to forecast how civic space might change in response to RAI events in coming months.

Bribery/ Economic Corruption

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor engages in bribery or corruption.

Example: “There is a new twist in the multi-billion-dollar financial scandal surrounding the Malaysian investment fund 1MDB - possible Chinese involvement. Malaysia's new government - which took office only in May - has suspended three major construction projects with Chinese firms. A senior ministry official told the BBC that it believes that two of the contracts, for pipelines, were used to launder money for Malaysia's previous administration, led by the former Prime Minister, Najib Razak.”

Cyber Operation

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor engages in cyber intrusion or intelligence activities.

Example: “Colombian authorities are investigating a series of cyber intrusions into voter registration systems that were discovered prior to the March parliamentary elections. One of the hacks was traced to a Venezuelan account, which some Colombian experts see as a Russian effort to extend influence through its relationships in Venezuela.”

Diaspora Activation

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor mobilizes citizens in a foreign nation to engage in domestic politics.

Example: “A Chinese-born businessman, Jian was elected out of nowhere in 2015 to the Buenos Aires city legislature under the PRO party list, becoming the first PRC citizen to do so. The local press linked his nomination to the donation of US$1.2 million by Chinese businessmen to Macri’s party.”

Diplomatic Engagement

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor engages in mediation between a local actor and others.

Example: “Russia said on Tuesday it was ready to facilitate the start of dialogue between Venezuela's government and opposition but warned the United States against intervening in Caracas' internal affairs. Russia has sided with President Nicolas Maduro in his stand-off with opposition leader Juan Guaido.”

Diplomatic Relations

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor provides legitimacy through agreements or support.

Example: “The comprehensive strategic partnership between Argentina and China was signed on July 18, 2014.”

Diplomatic Action

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor engages in diplomatic sanctions.

Example: “Russia expelled 23 British diplomats on Saturday in a carefully calibrated retaliatory move against London, which has accused the Kremlin of orchestrating a nerve toxin attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter in southern England. Escalating a crisis in relations, Russia said it was also shutting down the activities of the British Council, which fosters cultural links between the two countries, and Britain's consulate-general in St. Petersburg.”

Diplomatic Statement

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor engages in public discourse regarding local actors.

Example: “The Maldives is a case in point, where Beijing supported President Abdulla Yameen after his declaration of a state of emergency and jailing of judges and opposition politicians.”

Diplomatic Visit

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor visits with local officials.

Example: “The 3rd Meeting of the Brazil-China Global Strategic Dialogue was held in Brasilia on July 25, co-chaired by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ernesto Arajo, and by the State Councilor and Foreign Affairs Minister of China, Wang Yi.”

Economic Aid

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor provides economic support.

Example: “Recognizing Mongolia’s difficult situation, China Exim Bank agreed in early 2017 to provide financing under its $1 billion line of credit at concessional rates for a hydropower project and a highway project from the airport to the capital.”

Intelligence

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor engages in intelligence or covert operations.

Example: “Ukraine's security service SBU said on Wednesday it had captured a Russian military intelligence hit squad responsible for the attempted murder of a Ukrainian military spy in the run-up to a presidential election on Sunday.”

Investment Action

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor engages in investment in local projects.

Example: “Most significantly, a $3 billion portion of the Central Asia-China gas pipeline (Line D) will pass through Tajikistan, reportedly financed through Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI), although there could be pressure for the Tajik government to cover some of the financing costs.”

Security Force Exercise

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor engages in joint security exercises or training.

Example: “Thailand regularly conducts counter-terrorism exercises with China and launched its first ever joint air force training exercise with China in 2016.”

Media Campaign/Intervention

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor interacts with local media.

Example: “Grupo America, Argentina’s second-largest media corporation, closed an agreement with China Daily to insert the four-page China Watch supplement twice a month in five of the group’s newspapers, including El Cronista, the country’s top business daily.”

Political Process and Policy Intervention

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor intervenes in local political processes.

Example: “China has reportedly also donated funding to preferred political campaigns in Sierra Leone, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.”

Security Aid

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor provides security technology or supports military forces.

Example: “Bolivia is in discussions with Moscow to purchase transport helicopters and YAK 130 interceptors as part of Bolivia’s military recapitalization program.”

Security Engagement

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor enters into a security agreement with local actors.

Example: “Russia and Bolivia signed a defense cooperation agreement in August 2017.”

Security Force Presence

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor deploys security forces.

Example: “China prepares to deploy nuclear submarines at Pakistan’s Gwadar Port.”

Social/ Academic/ Cultural Exchange Technology

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor engages in student or social exchange programs.

Example: “In March 2017, representatives of the Ibero-American Center and Rossotrudnichestvo toured several countries in the region, including Argentina, to promote Russia’s academic offerings among Latin American students. In a presentation at the University of Buenos Aires, they announced that Russia would allocate 47 scholarships to Argentine applicants in 2017—up from fewer than 20 per year—out of a total of 15,000 scholarships granted to international students every year by the Russian state.”

Technology Action

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor provides technology.

Example: “Technology linked to Chinese companies—particularly Huawei, Hikvision, Dahua, and ZTE—supply AI surveillance technology in sixty-three countries, thirty-six of which have signed onto China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).”

Trade Agreement

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor signs a trade agreement.

Example: “November 30, 2017 - A CZG member travelled to the Philippines to conduct economic and trade exchanges with the Philippine Chinese Economic and Trade federation.”

Financial Action

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor implements trade sanctions.

Example: “Government sources in Buenos Aires mentioned Moscow’s threat to halt imports of Argentine beef and to withdraw a multibillion-dollar loan for a major infrastructure project in Argentina [in response to the Argentinian government’s announcement to end the deal with the television network RT en Espanol to broadcast on Argentina’s public television platform].”

Transnational Organized Crime

Any action where a foreign authoritarian actor engages in organized crime.

Example: “The Philippines said Friday it has detained hundreds of Chinese workers in a continuing crackdown against unlicensed online gaming businesses catering to mainland customers.”

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