State Department Suddenly Uneasy Using the Term ‘Malign Influence’ to Call Out China

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media after meetings on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, September 23, 2021. (Eduardo Munoz/Pool via Reuters)
The shift comes after progressive groups pressed for diplomats to use nicer language.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE U .S. officials are curtailing their use of the term “malign influence” to refer to Chinese misconduct abroad, amid progressive advocacy efforts urging the Biden administration to seek common ground with Beijing.

Top U.S. officials have used the term for several years to call out China over its political-interference operations in Western democracies. But advocates apparently have convinced the administration that the term is imprecise and likely to fuel anti-Asian hatred generally. The issue came up during an official webinar last month, when a speaker suggested that the State Department would avoid such “sweeping” language.

Asked about the change in approach, a State

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