Press Releases

House Intelligence Committee to Hold Open Hearing on China’s Digital Authoritarianism Thursday

Hearing Titled: China’s Digital Authoritarianism: Surveillance, Influence, and Political Control

Washington, DC – On Thursday, May 16 at 9 am, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold an open hearing on China’s emerging digital authoritarianism and global influence operations targeting the United States and its partners.

Under President Xi Jinping’s leadership, China is deploying on an unprecedented scale a pervasive surveillance network that harness advances in emerging technologies – including artificial intelligence and machine learning – to eliminate domestic political dissent and optimize the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) political control. Alarmingly, China is exporting this model of technology-driven social control to countries throughout the world, contributing to an international resurgence in and slide towards authoritarianism in many emerging democracies.

Among other issues, the Committee will seek testimony about:

  • China’s adoption and exportation of invasive surveillance measures designed to optimize political control, including the social credit system and Huawei’s “Safe City” solution;
  • China’s overseas influence operations targeting the U.S. and Five Eyes governments, including the activities directed by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) United Front Work Department; and
  • The Chinese Communist Party’s return to a personalistic dictatorship model, rising nationalist sentiment within China, and the implications of Beijing’s efforts to challenge the international order.

The Committee has invited the following witnesses to attend:

  • Dr. Samantha Hoffman – Non-Resident Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre
  • Peter Mattis – Research Fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
  • Dr. Jessica Chen Weiss – Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University
  • Christopher Walker – Vice President at the National Endowment for Democracy


What:              China’s Digital Authoritarianism: Surveillance, Influence, and Political Control (Open Hearing)

When:              Thursday, May 16, 2019; 9:00 am

Where:            210 Cannon House Office Building

All media wishing to attend this hearing must be credentialed through the House Radio & TV Gallery at (202) 225-5214. All TV camera crews should RSVP to the House Radio & TV Gallery. Media seating will be first come, first serve. All cameras should be in place by 8:00 am for security sweep.

Witness Biographies:

Dr. Samantha HoffmanNon-Resident Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre

Samantha Hoffman is an Analyst the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre, a Fellow at China Forum, and independent consultant.  In 2018, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in Berlin.  She also worked as a consultant for the IISS (2012-2018) and IHS Markit (2012-2017).  Her research explores the domestic and global implications of the Chinese Communist Party’s approach to state security.  The research offers new ways of thinking about how to understand and respond to China’s technology-enhanced political and social control efforts.  Dr. Hoffman holds a PhD in Politics and International Relations from the University of Nottingham (2017), and an MSc in Modern Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford (2011), and BA degrees in International Affairs and East Asian Languages & Cultures from the Florida State University (2010).  She written for Foreign Policy, The Hill, War on the Rocks, The National Interest, China Brief, Forbes, and Jane’s Intelligence Review.  She has been widely quoted in the media on China’s security state and politics, including The New York Times, The Economist, BBC, ABC (Australia), Foreign Policy, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Financial Times, Science Magazine, and WIRED.

Peter Mattis—Research Fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

Peter Mattis is a Research Fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and a contributing editor at War on the Rocks. He was a Fellow in the China Program at The Jamestown Foundation, where he also served as editor of the foundation’s China Brief, a biweekly electronic journal on greater China, from 2011 to 2013. He previously worked as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency for four years. Prior to entering government service, Mr. Mattis worked as a research associate at the National Bureau of Asian Research in its Strategic Asia and Northeast Asian Studies programs, providing research assistance and editing support. He received his M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and earned B.A.s in Political Science and Asian Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Mr. Mattis’s analysis of China and intelligence has appeared in The National Interest, China Brief, Sydney Morning Herald, The Hill, Jane’s Intelligence Review, Taipei Times, the East-West Center’s Asia-Pacific Bulletin, The Diplomat, War on the Rocks, the Asia Society’s ChinaFile, Cipher Brief, the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, and Studies in Intelligence. His views have been cited in the Washington Post, New York Times, Defense News, Christian Science Monitor, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Sydney Morning Herald, Wired, Foreign Policy, Australian Financial Review, ABC [Australia], BBC, CNN, and National Public Radio. He also has delivered lectures on China at the Council on Foreign Relations, Institute for International Strategic Studies, Stanford University, Australian National University, George Washington University, University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham, University of Washington, University of Chicago, and the National Cheng-chi University (Taiwan) as well as many government-organized conferences at home and abroad. He is the author of Analyzing the Chinese Military: A Review Essay and Resource Guide on the People’s Liberation Army (2015) and co-author of Chinese Communist Espionage: An Intelligence Primer (Forthcoming, Naval Institute Press, 2019).

Dr. Jessica Chen Weiss—Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University

Jessica Chen Weiss is Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University.  She is the author of Powerful Patriots: Nationalist Protest in China’s Foreign Relations (Oxford University Press, 2014).  Her work has appeared in International Organization, China Quarterly, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Contemporary China, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Security Studies, and Review of International Political Economy.  Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, she received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.  Before joining Cornell, she was an assistant professor at Yale University, and founded FACES, the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford University.  Weiss is an editor at the Washington Post Monkey Cage and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Christopher Walker—Vice President at the National Endowment for Democracy

Christopher Walker is Vice President for Studies and Analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Previously, Walker was Vice President for Strategy and Analysis at Freedom House; senior associate at the EastWest Institute; and program manager at the European Journalism Network. Walker has also served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International Affairs at New York University's Center for Global Affairs. He holds a B.A. from Binghamton University and an M.A. from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Walker has testified before legislative committees, appears regularly in the media, and frequently conducts briefings on critical issues relating to democratic development. He has been at the forefront of the discussion on authoritarian influence on democratic systems, including through what he has termed “sharp power.” His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign,, Journal of Democracy, and World Affairs.   He is co-editor (with Larry Diamond and Marc Plattner) of the edited volume Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy (2016), and co-editor (with Jessica Ludwig) of the report Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence (2017).