The United States has long used democracy as a tool and a weapon to undermine democracy in the name of democracy, to incite division and confrontation, and to meddle in other countries’ internal affairs, causing catastrophic consequences.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), as one of the US government’s main “foot soldiers”, “white gloves” and “democracy crusaders”, has subverted lawful governments and cultivated pro-US puppet forces around the world under the pretext of promoting democracy. Its disgraceful record has aroused strong discontent in the international community.
In today’s world, peace and development is the theme of the times, and the trend towards greater democracy in international relations is unstoppable. Any attempt to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of democracy is unpopular and is doomed to failure.
I. NED organizational structure
After World War II, the United States opened a covert front against the Soviet Union through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other intelligence apparatus. By the 1960s, the United States had realized gradually that it was far from enough to “promote democracy” through secret means only. There was an urgent need to establish a “public-private mechanism” to openly provide funding. In 1983 and with the efforts of the then US President and some other people, NED was founded as a bipartisan, non-profit institution.
NED is nominally an NGO that provides support for democracy abroad, but in fact, it relies on continuous financial support from the White House and the US Congress, and takes orders from the US government. Through the provision of funding, it has manipulated and directed NGOs around the world to export American values, conduct subversion, infiltration and sabotage, and incite so-called “democratic movements” in target countries and regions. It is essentially the US government’s “white glove” that serves US strategic interests.
As early as in 1991, the founder of NED Alan Weinstein put it bluntly in an interview with the Washington Post that a lot of what they were doing was what the CIA had done 25 years ago. NED was therefore known globally as the “second CIA”.
NED has four core institutes: the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, mainly responsible for supporting local political groups; the American Center for International Labor Solidarity responsible for promoting trade unions and labor movements; and the Center for International Private Enterprise for co-opting private enterprises. Through these four institutes, NED has become the mastermind behind separatist riots, color revolutions, political crises, lies and rumors, and infiltration around the world, with an ever-growing list of evils.
II. Instigating color revolutions to subvert state power
NED was seen behind color revolutions instigated and orchestrated by the United States, including the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the Arab Spring.
1. NED instigated color revolutions against “hostile” countries. Early NED documents revealed activities by NED mainly in Eastern Europe to subvert state power in as early as the late 1980s.
◆ On 27 August 1989, the Washington Post published a report titled “How we helped Solidarity win”, pointing out that NED provided financial support for the Polish Solidarity to help them overthrow the then Polish government, heralding drastic changes in Eastern Europe.
◆ In October 2000, NED financed and instigated the Velvet Revolution in Serbia which overthrew the Milosevic government. In 1999 and 2000, NED funded the Serbian opposition with 10 million and 31 million US dollars respectively for its rapid expansion. NED also helped the secret training of a group of college students before handing them over to the leadership of a student group called Otpor! (Resistance!) that later instigated riots. The Washington Post wrote in its post-mortem analysis of Serbia’s Velvet Revolution that US-funded advisers played a key role behind the scenes in nearly every aspect of the anti-Serbia movement. They tracked the polls, trained thousands of opposition activists and helped organize the crucial parallel vote tabulation.
◆ In 2003, the Rose Revolution broke out in Georgia, and then President Eduard Shevardnadze was forced to step down. In this color revolution, NED planned and participated in the entire process from “selecting” opposition leaders, training the opposition to providing huge funds. After the revolution succeeded, NED continued to offer “generous funds”. In 2004 alone, NED provided nearly 540,000 US dollars to 12 NGOs in Georgia.
◆ At the end of 2004, during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the United States offered 65 million US dollars to the Ukrainian opposition through NED and other organizations. When massive anti-government demonstrations broke out in Ukraine in 2013, NED funded as many as 65 NGOs in the country, and even provided large funds to pay “wages” to each and every protester. RIA Novosti reported that NED had invested 14 million US dollars in a project in Ukraine which led to the large demonstrations in 2014 that overthrew the then Yanukovych government.
2. NED was an important enabler behind the Arab Spring. In Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, Syria, Libya and other countries, NED provided financial support to pro-America individuals and groups by supporting professed feminism, freedom of the press, and human rights activities. It exported various kinds of anti-government ideas, incited color revolutions, and plunged the Arab world into war, social unrest and economic recession.
◆ At the end of January 2011, large-scale anti-government demonstrations broke out in Egypt. On 11 February, President Hosni Mubarak resigned. According to US diplomatic cables and other materials obtained by WikiLeaks, NED played an important role in organizing and manipulating anti-government demonstrations in Egypt. Through NGOs such as the National Association for Change and the April 6 Youth Movement, NED provided funding, training and other support to the demonstrations. The name and slogan of the National Association for Change are identical to those of anti-government organizations in other countries that have received NED training.
◆ In Libya, NED funded, among others, the founders of anti-government organizations Libya Forum for Human and Political Development, Libyan Transparency Association, and the founder of Libya akhbar who fled to London. These groups were active in the 2011 Libyan civil war.
◆ In Yemen, NED funded and worked closely with NGOs such as the “Women Journalists Without Chains” and played an important role in the 2011 anti-government protests in Yemen. Founder of the “Women Journalists Without Chains” Tawakkol Karman organized and led student rallies against the Saleh government.
◆ In Algeria, a number of organizations involved in the Arab Spring protests received funding from NED. NED’s annual reports revealed that the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights received US funding in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2010. The National Autonomous Union of Public Administration Staff had close ties with the NED-affiliated American Center for International Labor Solidarity.
3. NED instigated the “color revolution” in Bolivia, forcing President Evo Morales to resign and go into exile. During the nearly 14-year rule of the leftist government under Morales, Bolivia enjoyed political stability and the fastest growth rate in South America. Its poverty rate continued to drop, people’s livelihoods improved markedly, and tensions between the white and the indigenous eased significantly. The Morales government won the general election, but was forced to step down by “street movements” and the military and police. NED played a part in more ways than one.
First, grooming anti-Morales forces over the years. Between 2013 and 2018, NED and USAID provided, by various means, 70 million US dollars to the opposition in Bolivia, funded white elites, former right-wing political figures and other anti-Morales elements, weaved an anti-Morales network spanning across universities, think tanks and civil organizations, and even roped in indigenous Bolivians to stand against Morales. A number of leading figures of the opposition received such financial support or had close interactions with the United States.
Second, alleging “election fraud” in a brainwashing campaign. Starting from 2018, NED invested 45,000 and 42,000 US dollars respectively through Fundacion para el Periodismo (Foundation for the Media) and Agencia de Noticias Fides Compania de Jesus (FIDES News Agency Company) to encourage right-wing media outlets in Bolivia to dig up dirt about corruption and abuse of power by the Morales government and to label Morales, who was seeking reelection, a “dictator”. It allocated 45,000 US dollars through Fundacion Milenio (Millennium Foundation) to sponsor universities, business councils and NGOs to hype up “fair election” and “judicial transparency”, in order to build up public expectations for Morales’ “election fraud”.
Third, masterminding street movements. On 29 October 2019, after the result of the general election was released, opposition leaders including Carlos Mesa organized a “peaceful demonstration”, calling for a rerun of the election and distributing cash to the protesters. Opposition leader José Antonio Camacho, who later became a propaganda focus of the right-wing media backed by NED, incited nationwide strikes and became a daring and controllable spokesperson of the United States. NED also spent 200,000 US dollars through the International Republican Institute, a core institute of NED, to improve the mobilizing and organizational capabilities of the opposition parties and give counsel to the “street movements”.
III. Colluding with local political groups to meddle in other countries’ political agenda
By infiltrating target countries, cultivating local anti-government forces and stoking social tensions, NED has been reaching its hands into the internal affairs of other countries.
1. Meddling in Hong Kong’s elections and interfering in China’s internal affairs. NED contacted opposition parties, groups and organizations in Hong Kong through its affiliating National Democratic Institute for International Affairs or the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Since 1997, the NDI has published 18 assessment reports aimed at influencing Hong Kong’s “democratic development”. In 2002, the NDI opened an office in Hong Kong. In 2003, it funded the “1 July marches” orchestrated by the opposition to obstruct legislation on Article 23. In 2004, it funded the participation of opposition parties and groups at workshops and seminars, and provided personal counseling on campaigning skills for their leaders. In 2005, it ran a young political leaders program to support emerging political groups in confronting the government. In 2006, it funded a “Hong Kong Transition Project”. In 2007, it divided its activities in Hong Kong into four programs, i.e. a series of reports entitled “The Promise of Democratization in Hong Kong”, survey of perceptions, the youth’s public engagement and women’s political participation. In 2008, it organized a summit for students. In 2010, it plotted, together with opposition members of the Legislative Council (LegCo), a “five-district referendum” . In 2012, it funded Hong Kong University in opening a “Design Democracy Hong Kong” website, recruited university interns, and funded the summit for students. In 2014, it directed and funded the opposition and young radicals in orchestrating the illegal “Occupy Central” movement.
According to the NED website, 2 million US dollars were spent on 11 Hong Kong-related projects in 2020, with a particular focus on disrupting LegCo elections. Key projects include: “Strengthening Citizen Election Observation”, which offered technical and financial assistance to newly formed destabilizing groups in Hong Kong, and encouraged them to obstruct LegCo elections by means of election monitoring, get-out-the-vote methods, etc.; “Amplifying Citizens’ Perspectives on Political Participation”, which collected and disseminated survey findings on democratic development, and induced young Hong Kongers to share their political participation experiences on the Internet; “Supporting Unity Among Student Activists”, which called for better coordination among Hong Kong student groups prior to LegCo elections, and instructed and trained them to build capacity for “democratic change” and international communication and to play a role in disrupting electoral order; and “Building Regional Solidarity and Empowering the Hong Kong Movement”, which sought to strengthen Hong Kong’s “democratic movement” through network building, cultivate next-generation “leading activists” in Hong Kong, and set up a network of “democratic movement” in Asia.
2. Interfering in Russia’s elections and threatening Russia’s constitutional, defense and national security. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, between 2013 and 2014, NED allocated 5.2 million US dollars to Russian organizations. In July 2015, NED was declared an “undesirable organization” by Russia. An official statement from Russia pointed out that NED “participated in work to recognize election results as illegitimate, to organize political action with the goal of influencing government policy, and to discredit Russian army service.”
3. Creating political instability in Belarus. The United States masterminded three “color revolutions” against the Belarusian government in 2006, 2010 and 2020 respectively, during which NED played an important role. In 2020, NED spent a total of 2.35 million US dollars in projects related to Belarus. Under the pretext of advancing political processes, NED conducted a project to foster “free and fair elections” with a funding of 80,000 US dollars. Under the project, a comprehensive publicity campaign was launched before presidential elections to inform citizens of electoral rights and independent election monitoring; and during campaigning, education and training on voting were carried out for activists, observers deployed to monitor the voting process, and monitoring findings published through a variety of media outlets.
On 9 August 2020, the incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko won his sixth presidential term with 80.1 percent of the votes. The opposition alleged election fraud, leading to mass protests in Minsk and other cities for days and riots in some regions. NED was very busy during this period. On 17 May 2021, RT released a video call clip between NED’s leadership and opposition figures of Belarus. In the video call, the then NED President Carl Gershman admitted that NED had long been operating across different parts in Belarus and engaged in alleged civil rights activities in eastern Belarus, including Vitebsk and Gomel. NED supported the opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, and worked with her team through its core institutes to facilitate the team’s activities.
While commenting on NED’s activities in Belarus, Dmitry Yegorchenkov, a Russian expert on international relations, said that NED funded many “independent media”, and while the funding for any individual media outlet may not look that significant, the recipients are many. According to the NED website, between 2016 and 2020, NED funded 119 projects in Belarus under the category of “Freedom of Information”, spending an average of 50,000 US dollars on each project. This particular category received more funding than any other category for five consecutive years.
4. Interfering in Mongolia’s parliamentary elections. The International Republican Institute (IRI), one of the core institutes of NED, was deeply involved in Mongolia’s parliamentary elections in 1996. In its 1996 annual report, the IRI revealed that it had provided training for the country’s opposition parties on recruitment, organizational building and campaign activities since 1992. At the instigation of the IRI, Mongolia’s scattering “democratic” forces were integrated into two political parties and later formed a unified opposition alliance in early 1996, taking 50 out of the 70 seats in Mongolia’s parliament. According to several NED annual reports, it awarded the IRI over 480,000 US dollars of grants between 1992 and 1996. In 1996 alone, nearly 160,000 US dollars were earmarked for Mongolia’s opposition alliance to win the elections.
5. “Monitoring” the elections and constitutional referendum in Kyrgyzstan. From 2013 to 2020, NED appropriated over 13 million US dollars to media outlets and various NGOs in the country. NED funding for “disruptive news” in Kyrgyzstan reached over 2 million US dollars in 2020, which included the allocation of 300,000 US dollars to the Kloop Media website to “monitor” Kyrgyzstan’s constitutional referendum and local parliamentary elections. The website recruited 1,500 “observers” during the presidential elections in January 2021, and hired 3,000 “observers” during the local parliamentary elections and constitutional referendum in April.
6. Stirring up protests and demonstrations in Thailand. In 2020, protests and demonstrations broke out in the streets of Thailand. Organizations such as the NED-funded Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) publicly supported and incited the street protests. The Bangkok Post disclosed that the TLHR had received funds from NED. The Nation, a Thai newspaper, reported that NED has also funded media platforms including Prachatai, an online media outlet, and NGOs such as iLaw, an internet-based legal institution. NED has interfered in the internal affairs of Thailand through these platforms and organizations as they call for the Thai government to amend the constitution.
7. Inciting the opposition parties in Nicaragua to seize power by force. Supporting pro-US political forces in the central American country of Nicaragua was among the first programs of NED after its inception in 1983. Between 1984 and 1988, NED provided about 2 million US dollars of funds to the opposition forces in Nicaragua, helping their leader Violeta Chamorro to become president-elect in 1990. As of today, NED is still channeling funds to the opposition and right-wing media outlets in Nicaragua via the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy established after Violeta Chamorro stepped down. According to public records, between 2016 and 2019, NED provided at least 4.4 million US dollars to Nicaraguan opposition groups, including media organizations. These forces played key roles in Nicaragua’s violent coup attempt in 2018 when they called on opposition supporters to attack the government and assassinate the president.
8. Funding anti-Cuba forces to manipulate public opinion against the government. Cuba has long suffered heavily from US infiltration and subversive activities. Cuban media revealed that NED and USAID allocated nearly 250 million US dollars to programs targeting Cuba over the past 20 years. According to the awarded grants disclosed in 2021 on the NED website, it funded 42 anti-Cuba programs in 2020 alone. In 2021, NED funded and guided anti-Cuba forces to fabricate and spread disinformation on social networks to stoke public sentiments against the government, and instigate the people to take part in activities disrupting public order. For instance, in mid-June 2021, anti-Cuba forces rumor-mongered that the country’s health system was overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing public panic. In July, capitalizing on the surge of street protests in Cuba, NED churned out the fake news that “(more than) 100 protesters … are missing” and used Internet robots to disseminate it. That was a malicious attempt to influence public opinion online and incite the Cuban people to overthrow their government.
9. Long-standing interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs. After Hugo Chavez, the “anti-US fighter”, was elected president of Venezuela in 1999, NED accelerated its behind-the-scenes operations. It provided continuous funding to the Venezuelan opposition and invited people to “training courses” in the United States. Since 1999, NED has run activities via the USAID office in the US Embassy and the offices of its core recipient organizations in Venezuela. It stayed in touch with and funded activities of dozens of institutions and opposition parties and organizations in Venezuela in the name of “promoting democracy”, “resolving conflict” and “strengthening civil society”. NED’s spending on interference activities in Venezuela rose year by year. It was 257,800 US dollars in 1999, the largest in Latin American countries. In 2000, it soared to 877,400 US dollars. In 2002, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the US Department of State earmarked as much as 1 million US dollars to support NED programs in Venezuela. In 2019, NED programs in Venezuela totaled 2.66 million US dollars. Among them was an NED project that focused on advancing “political processes”, for “Strengthening Outreach, Communication and Organizational Capacity” with the funding of over 90,000 US dollars, to be used for providing training and support to local activists, to strengthen the communication capacity of democratic actors, to strengthen the nationwide “civil society” network, and to develop communications teams to disseminate across the country a message (of hope and support) for “democracy”.
In October 2005, Juan Guaidó and four other Venezuelan “student leaders” arrived in Belgrade, Serbia to attend NED-funded training for insurrection. After the training, Guaidó and others returned to Venezuela to promote extreme right-wing ideas, in an attempt to influence young Venezuelans, masterminding a series of violent street political activities. Later, Guaidó enrolled at a US university and, with the support of NED, has been active in relevant political groups in the United States. After Guaidó declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela, his Wikipedia page was created shortly afterwards and edited 37 times by NED-affiliated organizations, to support the propaganda for his “legitimacy”. In November 2021, Russia Today reported in an article that a string of recent US internal documents revealed how the United States meddled in the electoral process in Venezuela. Documents showed that US intelligence fronts weaponized social media to promote Venezuela’s right-wing opposition, and assist their election to parliament, thus laying the foundations for Washington’s appointment of Juan Guaido as the country’s leader.
The four core institutes of NED all engage in all kinds of activities in Venezuela. They have built close ties with opposition parties in the country and helped train existing or newly-established opposition parties on organization, management, publicity and other fronts. They have provided several funding packages to the largest opposition union in Venezuela and pushed it to stage anti-Chavez protests and demonstrations. When Nicolás Maduro was sworn in as President on 10 January 2019, the United States and some other countries refused to recognize his new term and instigated Juan Guaidó, then president of the National Assembly and opposition leader, to contend for leadership and openly challenge Maduro. Guaidó then declared himself interim president and demanded a new presidential election, plunging the country into unrest. The turmoil in Venezuela is a telling example of what “color revolutions” plotted by US-backed proxies would incur. NED’s many years of attempts to cultivate Venezuelan opposition elements clearly played a role. In March 2019, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said that funded by NED, many organizations conducted destablizing activities across the country and attempted to overthrow the Venezuelan government over the past 20 years.
10. Orchestrating violent coup to realize regime change in Haiti. The International Republican Institute (IRI) was deeply involved in the 2001 violent coup in Haiti which toppled the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In February 2001, Stanley Lucas, the IRI’s Senior Program Officer for Haiti, openly put forward three ways to dislodge President Aristide at a local radio program. Then US Assistant Secretary of State Roger Francisco Noriega not only collaborated with the IRI to provide funding for the opposition in Haiti, but also gave acquiescence to the opposition’s separatist tactics when mediating the political crisis in Haiti. While claiming to be “promoting democracy around the world”, the IRI was actually in close contact with the opposition in Haiti to conduct subversive operations.
11. Interfering in Uganda’s presidential election by supporting the opposition leader. In Uganda’s presidential election held in January 2021, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, candidate of the opposition National Unity Platform, won 34.83 percent of the vote, coming second. Ssentamu grew up in the slums and was a pop star before entering into politics. Analysts attribute his high popularity largely to the US backing. According to online media, he received training on regime subversion in the United States at the invitation of NED in 2018 on the pretense of seeking medical treatment. Besides, NED also provided funding and assigned counsel to support him during his presidential campaign.
IV. Funding separatist forces to undermine target countries’ stability
China has long been a key target of NED’s infiltration and subversion activities. NED invests heavily in anti-China programs every year and attempts to incite “Xinjiang independence”, “Hong Kong independence”, and “Tibet independence” . According to data released on its website in 2020, NED provided over 10 million US dollars of grants for 69 China-related programs within one year which were aimed to deliver various activities endangering China’s political and social stability.
1. NED is the main source of funding for various “Xinjiang independence” organizations. NED claims to have provided 8.7583 million US dollars of grants for various “Uyghur organizations” between 2004 and 2020. In 2020 alone, various “Xinjiang independence” forces received around 1.24 million US dollars of grants from NED, and the bulk of that was channeled to “Xinjiang independence” organizations such as the “World Uyghur Congress” (WUC). Then NED President Carl Gershman openly claimed that to solve the problems in Xinjiang, a color revolution must be held in China and that regime change can turn the country into a federal republic. Speaking at NED’s Democracy Award event in June 2019, Gershman openly supported the idea of “East Turkestan” to embolden “Xinjiang independence” forces. He also called for global attention to so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang and sought to launch an international alliance dedicated to this matter and to sanction China.
As exposed by US-based website The Grayzone, over the years, NED has directly provided the WUC and the Uyghur American Association (UAA) with millions of dollars, and assisted them in collaborating with governments and legislatures in the United States and other Western countries to level up hostile activities against China. UAA President Kuzzat Altay openly stated that “The most normal thing that I could ever imagine is anti-China activities every freaking day”. The Grayzone’s investigative report showed that when COVID-19 hit the United States in 2020, UAA and its key members fawned on far-right political forces in the United States, branded the coronavirus the “China virus” and incited anti-Asian sentiment.
NED’s Xinjiang-related programs focus on hyping up “human rights crisis” in Xinjiang and are part of the US and Western attempt to use Xinjiang to contain China. In 2019, NED provided 900,000 US dollars of grants for Xinjiang-related programs. Major programs include the program of “Documenting Human Rights Violations in East Turkistan” which was initiated in the name of “defending human rights”, but in reality the program included bribing witnesses and fabricating evidence to justify the so-called charge of “human rights violations” in Xinjiang, and issued nonfactual interim reports and an annual report about education and training centers in Xinjiang; the program of “Empowering Women and Youth for Advocacy and Civic Participation” which provided training on skills and ways of anti-China propaganda and advocacy to Uyghur women and youth, and incited them to carry out anti-China activities; the program of “Defending and Advocating for Uyghur Human Rights” which collected and forged disinformation about “violations of Uyghurs’ human rights” in and outside China, and mounted negative publicity campaigns on Xinjiang-related issues around the world. In 2020, NED provided 1.24 million US dollars of grants for Xinjiang-related programs. Major programs include “Advocating for Uyghur Human Rights through Artistic Interaction” which encouraged “Xinjiang independence” forces in and outside China to hype up Xinjiang-related issues in the name of art, “Documenting and Developing Resources to Strengthen Uyghur Advocacy” designed to build a Uyghur “human rights” database and produce reports to discredit China’s Uyghur-related policies, and “Defending and Advocating for Uyghur Human Rights” and “Empowering Women and Youth for Advocacy and Civic Participation” which were the extension of relevant 2019 programs.
2. NED maintains close ties with “Tibet independence” forces. They have been in contact since 2010 when then Chairman of NED Gershman presented the “Democracy Service Medal” to Dalai Lama. Gershman attended the “Hope and Democracy” event hosted by Dalai Lama in 2016, and celebrated Dalai Lama’s 85th birthday and spoke up for his “Tibet Independence” activities in 2020. On 13 November 2018, NED organized a seminar on Tibet-related issues in the United States, and invited Lobsang Sungen, then “Kalon Tripa” of the “Tibetan Government-in-Exile”. Lobsang Sungen made irresponsible remarks at the event, falsely alleging that the ultimate goal of China’s aid program was to colonize Tibet, and that the international community needed to draw lessons from Tibet’s experience and see China’s hidden ambitions under the Belt and Road Initiative. On 16 June 2021, NED hosted an interview between Penpa Tsering, the new “Sikyong” of the “Central Tibetan Administration”, and Josh Rogin, journalist and columnist with The Washington Post. During the interview, Penpa Tsering claimed that the new “Kashag” will work to resume the stalled “Sino-Tibet dialogue” to find a “lasting, mutually beneficial and non-violent solution”, and will “strengthen international outreach and advocacy”.
NED’s Tibet-related programs focus on strengthening the “Tibet independence” forces and hyping up the Tibet issue internationally. In 2019, NED provided 600,000 US dollars of grants for Tibet-related programs. Major programs include the program of “Strengthening the Tibetan Movement—Campaigning, Training, and Strategic Organizing” designed both to boost “Tibet independence” elements’ ability to launch social movements in Tibet, and to lobby and push the international community to interfere in Tibetan affairs; the program of “Strengthening International Support for Democracy and Human Rights in Tibet” aimed at cultivating local “Tibet independence” forces, enabling closer collusion between forces in and outside China, and planning and implementing social movements in Tibet; the program of “Strengthening Youth Political Participation” aimed to cultivate the next generation of “Tibetan social movement leaders”; the program of “Create Conditions for Dialogue and Negotiations” aimed to promote “Tibet independence” through so-called academic studies. In 2020, NED provided one million US dollars of grants for Tibet-related programs. Major ones include the program of “Tibet Times Newspaper” which published Tibetan-language newspapers, operated and maintained Tibetan-language websites, and provided the platform for activities of the “Tibetan Government-in-Exile” and “Tibet Independence” organizations; the program of “Strengthening International Support for Democracy and Human Rights in Tibet” which collected evidence about human rights questions in Tibet and smeared the Chinese government’s Tibet-related policies at the UN; the program of “Strengthening Awareness about the Panchen Lama” designed to misguide and misinform the international community about and seek support for the so-called “11th Panchen Lama”, and attack China’s policy on freedom of religious belief; the program of “Strengthening Tibet Monitoring and Information Networks” aimed at closer monitoring and tracking of human rights in Tibet and producing negative Tibet-related report; the program of “Promoting Informed Voting among the Tibetan Electorate” designed to get Tibetans to participate in the so-called election and decision-making of the “Tibetan Government-in-Exile”.
3. NED gives full support to “Hong Kong independence”. It has long carried out projects on so-called “labor rights”, “political reform” and “human rights monitoring” in Hong Kong, and was behind almost all street demonstrations there. According to a research into the NED official website by a Hong Kong public opinion analysis agency “Hong Kong Insights”, since 1994, NED has funded opposition organizations, student movement groups and media outlets in Hong Kong such as the “Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor” and “Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions”, and manipulated them to stage demonstrations and protests. And according to statistics by Du Jia, a researcher with the Consilium Research Institute of Chongqing University, NED has funded Hong Kong projects every year since 1994, investing altogether over 10 million US dollars by 2018.
Since 2003, NED has covertly organized, planned, directed and funded many large-scale street movements in Hong Kong, including the illegal “Occupy Central” movement and the violent demonstrations over proposed legislative amendments. In the anti-amendment turbulence in 2019, NED went from behind the scenes to the front line, directly engaging with major anti-China destabilizing forces in Hong Kong, and offering subsidies and training to those involved in the riots. In May 2019, individuals attempting to sow trouble in Hong Kong including founding chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party Martin Lee, founding chairman of “Demosisto” Nathan Law and former chairman of the “Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China” Lee Cheuk-yan visited the United States to attend an NED event titled “New Threats to Civil Society and the Rule of Law in Hong Kong”, openly begging for US intervention in Hong Kong’s proposed legislative amendments.
In September 2019, NED recruited anti-China elements in Hong Kong to join the board of directors of the Washington-based “Hong Kong Democracy Council”. The establishment of the organization exposed the symbiotic relationship between those anti-China forces and Washington. Most of its board members are leading figures for destabilizing Hong Kong, while its advisory board comprises mainly members of non-governmental organizations such as NED. During the anti-amendment movement in 2019, NED arranged for those forces to wage a propaganda campaign on the international arena, financed activities of their organizations, and frequently sent personnel to Hong Kong to guide protests on the ground. In September 2021, NED held the so-called “The Fight for a Democratic Future” symposium, where Nathan Law made a lie-laden speech to distort the truth and defy justice. Leading organizations in the anti-amendment turbulence such as the “Civil Human Rights Front”, “Demosisto” and “Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions” all received NED funding. In 2021, NED further ramped up support for Hong Kong separatists in exile.
In 2019, NED invested about 640,000 US dollars in projects in Hong Kong. To be specific, under the “Strengthening Civil Society and Human Rights Protection” project, it used human rights as a pretext for colluding with pro-independence and so-called “pro-democracy” groups and politicians to accuse the Chinese Central Government of violating human rights; under the “Promoting Evidence-Based Dialogue and Policy-Making” project, it established a so-called “evidence-based dialogue” mechanism purportedly based on Hong Kong citizens’ views about political and economic issues, with the aim of amplifying the voice of pro-independence elements; under the “Expanding Worker Rights And Democracy” project, it assisted Hong Kong trade unions in enhancing organizational, negotiation and propaganda skills, in the name of promoting democracy and the development of civil society in Hong Kong; and under the “Defending Rule of Law and Freedom in Hong Kong” project, it colluded with local troublemakers and anti-China forces in the international business community and government departments to meddle with the rule of law in Hong Kong and concoct reports on the relationship between Hong Kong’s prosperity and its rule of law and freedoms.
V. Producing disinformation and playing up anti-government narratives
1. Circulating provocative rhetoric to arouse anti-government sentiments among the public. In 2021, Cuba experienced its worst economic crisis in 30 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and tightened sanctions by the United States. Inflation intensified, and food, medicine and power shortages spread across the country. On 11 July, large-scale anti-government demonstrations broke out in many cities, including the capital Havana. Investigations by the Cuban government found close ties between US government agencies and the demonstrations, in which NED played an important role. In the weeks before the demonstrations, anti-government messages surged on social media, which effectively manipulated public sentiments, caused dissatisfaction and incited protests. In the days shortly before the demonstrations, a large number of new accounts popped up on Twitter, which liked and retweeted unverified anti-government posts, all with the hashtag #SOSCuba. According to the Cuban foreign minister, investigations showed close links between these accounts and a company based in Miami, Florida.
2. Fabricating Xinjiang-related lies to fuel the momentum for containing China. The NED-funded “World Uyghur Congress” and “Human Rights Watch” started and spread such rumors as “genocide” in Xinjiang and “the detention of one million Uyghurs in education and training centers”. After interviewing only eight people, the NED-backed “Chinese Human Rights Defenders”, based on such an absurd small-sample “research”, applied the estimated ratio to the whole of Xinjiang and concluded that one million people were detained in the “re-education detention camps” and two million “forced to attend day/evening re-education sessions”, thus disseminating rumors about Xinjiang. Starting from January 2019, the US State Department and NED launched a household survey of Uyghurs working, studying and living in the United States. Respondents were asked if anyone in their family was in an “education and training center” in Xinjiang, and were instigated to come forward to make accusations, in an attempt to incite protests against the Chinese government.
3. Spreading the “political virus” and politicizing COVID-19 origins-tracing. Since the start of the pandemic, the NED-funded “Uyghur American Association” and its affiliates continuously peddled right-wing conspiracy theories, blaming China for the pandemic and all related deaths, and circulating rumors that China is waging a “virus war” on the world and “purposefully, intentionally exporting the virus to cause the pandemic”. Such rumor-mongering fed anti-China and anti-Asian sentiments in the United States and other Western countries.
4. Fueling tensions and hyping up the concept of “sharp power”. In November 2017, NED’s Vice President for Studies and Analysis Christopher Walker and Senior Program Officer Jessica Ludwig wrote an article on Foreign Affairs titled “The Meaning of Sharp Power: How Authoritarian States Project Influence”, marketing the concept of “sharp power” for the first time and whipping up a new round of “China threat theory”. In December 2017, NED issued a report titled Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence, demonizing China and Russia by alleging that for more than a decade, the two countries have spent huge funds on influencing target countries or groups with non-conventional means such as division, purchased loyalty and manipulation in an attempt to shape global opinion and perceptions.
5. Provoking controversy and stigmatizing China’s press policy. The NED-funded “Reporters Without Borders” has long instigated the international community, advertisers, press unions and foreign governments to treat Chinese media differently and be vigilant against their so-called “threat”. Since COVID-19 struck, the “Reporters Without Borders” made such irresponsible remarks as urging China to “stop censoring information about coronavirus epidemic” and warning against the government’s “increased repression” against journalism. It also fabricated rumors that many Chinese journalists face “years of detention in prisons, where ill-treatment can lead to death”.
VI. Funding Activities and Academic Programs for the Purpose of Ideological Infiltration
1. NED has created various “democracy awards” to encourage dissidents in other countries to help the US “export” democracy. Since 1991, NED has been granting the Democracy Award annually to political activists and dissidents in countries including Russia, China, DPRK, Myanmar, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and Ukraine in recognition of “defending human rights and democracy”. Since 1999, it has been giving out the Democracy Service Medal annually. In 2002, the medal was awarded to Wu Shu-chen, wife of the then Taiwan authorities leader Chen Shui-bian. In 2010, the medal was awarded to the 14th Dalai Lama，the so-called “Tibetan spiritual leader in exile”. NED also uses the global assemblies of the World Movement for Democracy to grant the Democracy Courage Tributes. Since the Eighth Global Assembly in 2015, names related to China has begun to appear on the list of recipients. Anti-China organizations and individuals seeking independence for Tibet or Hong Kong or related to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) have successively received the Tributes. For example, an Eighth Assembly (2015) recipient is Nathan Law, a “Hong Kong independence” separatist; a Ninth Assembly (2018) recipient is Jin Bianling, wife of the so-called “human rights lawyer” Jiang Tianyong; and among the Tenth Assembly (2021) recipients are Hong Kong Watch, a British anti-China organization seeking to disrupt Hong Kong, Students for a Free Tibet, a “Tibet independence” organization, and Campaign for Uyghurs, an ETIM-related group. Among the recipients, Nathan Law is the founding chairman of Demosistō, an organization pursuing “Hong Kong independence”, and is wanted by Hong Kong police for law-breaking activities aimed at destabilizing Hong Kong. Jiang Tianyong is the mastermind behind disinformation such as “detained lawyer Xie Yang was tortured”, and was involved in meddling in and playing up sensitive cases, inciting illegal gatherings to cause public disorder and collaborating with overseas forces, seriously endangering national security and social stability. Hong Kong Watch has received a warning letter from Hong Kong police for suspected violation of Article 29 of the National Security Law on “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security”. Students for a Free Tibet sent eight of its key members including then Executive Director Lhadon Tethong to China in 2008 to conduct sabotage activities. Campaign for Uyghurs, a group of Uyghur separatists in exile, is a branch of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), an ultra-nationalist organization, and its mission is to subvert China and establish an “East Turkestan” nation state.
On 4 June 2019, NED exploited the 30th year since the 1989 political disturbance to give the 2019 Democracy Award to the Tibet Action Institute (TAI), the WUC and ChinaAid, organizations seeking independence of Tibet and Xinjiang or related to ETIM and “democracy movements”.
2. Since 2004, NED has held the Lipset Lecture Series annually in the United States and Canada, and published the lecture in its Journal of Democracy. While most of the lecturers are well-known political scholars, the lectures are heavily ideological. For example, the 2020 lecture was titled “Totalitarianism’s Long Dark Shadow over China” given by American political scientist Pei Minxin.
3. NED makes grants to the Egyptian Democratic Academy, an NGO, for ideological infiltration in Egypt. In June 2011, the then US ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson acknowledged that her country had spent no less than 40 million US dollars to “promote democracy” in Egypt since February 2011.
4. In October 2013, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), one of NED’s core grantees, received over 300,000 US dollars from NED to “improve the communication skills of political activists in Venezuela”. Before Venezuela’s local elections in December 2013, the NDI hosted seminar outside Venezuela to provide “expert advice” on the use of technology and social media for citizen outreach and engagement. Moreover, NED created a virtual toolbox, offering “online customized capacity-building courses on a range of issues relating to political innovation”, which remains active today. These measures did make an impact on Venezuela’s 2015 legislative elections: The Democratic Unity Roundtable, the opposition coalition, claimed a historic National Assembly majority.
5. At the end of 2016, NED sponsored Edward Leung and Ray Wong, separatists seeking “Hong Kong independence”, to study at Harvard and Oxford respectively. In 2017, Johnson Yeung, the former convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, an organization seeking to destabilize Hong Kong, participated in an NED visiting fellows program, in which he talked with civic groups and protesters from South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and learned from their experience of democratic and social movements.
6.For years, NED has been funding the Interethnic Interfaith Leadership Conference, which has been held 15 times as of November 2020. Many participants are members of separatist groups seeking independence of Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Hong Kong and Taiwan or with Falun Gong. In a keynote speech at the 13th Conference in December 2018, the then NED President Carl Gershman asserted that “China today poses the greatest threat to democracy in the world” and clamored for “supporting for the development of democracy” in China.
7. On 3 June 2019, NED hosted a conference themed “China’s Repression Model”, which claimed that China’s model is eroding the western democratic system through a new generation of technology.
8. From 27 to 30 March 2022, current NED President and CEO Damon Wilson led a delegation to Taiwan, and announced during a press conference that NED would co-host the 11th Global Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy with the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy in October 2022 in Taipei, giving support to the “Taiwan independence” forces under the disguise of democracy.
9. NED makes grants to “civil rights” organizations on a regular basis in the name of funding academic seminars and training. Detailed NED grants to Tibet and Xinjiang in 2020 showed that groups such as the Tibetan Youth Association and the WUC, organizations seeking independence of Tibet and Xinjiang, had received funding from NED for workshops, which provided forum to Tibetans in exile and “Tibet independence” separatists inside China, and for capacity-building training for young Uyghurs to spread a narrative of “Uyghur crisis” in local communities.
10. NED has long provided funding for the training of “politically active” Sudanese young people. In 2020, the Regional Center for Training and Development of the Civil Society (RCDCS) received the Democracy Award for training hundreds of young people across Sudan on “democracy” and activism.
(Source: MoFA China)