Lessons for Sri Lanka: What US means when it delivers “Democracy” via NED to China



US Govt delivers democracy through National Endowment for Democracy NED. Foreign aid & programs associated with the aid were to determine the manner of “democracy” to be delivered. That “democracy” meant helping friendly regimes, toppling unfriendly regimes, propping puppets, assisting dictators – all in the name of ‘democracy’. Democracy became intertwined with political and economic assistance that soon became insisted. The task was outsourced to USAID and US Peace Corps who initially targeted Latin America, Africa, Middle East & Asia.


1960s – John F Kennedy modernized democracy

1970s – Richard Nixon superpower relations foreign policy / Jimmy Carter human rights foreign policy

1980s & 1990s – Ronald Reagan Cold War foreign policy & anti-communism & a ‘crusade for freedom’ aiding ‘reformers’ using 1) ‘Project Democracy’ (coordinated by US Information Agency-USIA) then 2) Promoting Democracy & free markets via quasi-governmental agency- creating NED.

1990s – under President Bush & President Clinton ‘democracy’ & ‘free markets’ expanded. Underlying rhetoric was that democracies do not fight each other & are economically interdependent creating democratic peace/liberal peace.

NED’s ‘reformers’ initially became Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia & eventually Soviet Union which became balkanized.


US Govt channels aid through National Endowment for Democracy (NED) & this aid is used to promote democracy & economic freedom. Details about NED’s activities are not made public beyond what it claims to do. The objectives behind the program initiatives are kept secret. Thus NED’s real initiatives from 1983 remains known only to the US Govt.


National Endowment for Democracy – NED

Originated – 1984

Funded by US Congress

Mission – assist ‘development of democratic institutions, procedures and values’ in other countries

NED definition of democracy – right of foreign people to freely determine their own destiny, via a system that guarantees freedom of expression, belief & association, free & competitive elections, respect for inalienable rights of individuals & minorities, free communications, media & rule of law.


Help develop political institutions needed for democracy with special focus on developing political parties (political & ideological assistance)

Help prepare, conduct & monitor elections

Help strengthen civil society by assisting ‘independent’ organizations – invariably implying dependent on West & its values


NED’s Journal of Democracy is the Bible of its programs.

NED’s Democracy Resource Centre is for its contacts & information


  • NED is directly funded by US Congress
  • NED offers indirect grants to
  • National Democratic Institute for International Affairs – NDI
  • International Republican Institute – IRI
  • American Centre for International Labor Solidarity – ACILS (formerly Free Trade Union Institute)
  • Centre for International Private Enterprise – CIPE

These 4 entities represent 2 political parties in US, labor unions & US businesses)



Many perceive NED to be doing overtly what CIA formerly did covertly


CIA image was exposed by 3 Commissions

  1. Church Committee
  2. Pike Committee
  3. Rockefeller Commission


NED Projects

1984 Iran-Contra – “Project Democracy” covert attempt to restrict aid to Nicaraguas Contras via Lt. Col. Oliver North violating Congress orders channeling funding through arms sales to Iran resulted in CIA creating within itself a secret government. VP Walter Mondale & Republican Frank Fahrenkopf had strong links to NED serving on its board & did utmost to not link NED to the Iran-Contras affair.


Funding extremist groups in France – revealed on 28 Nov 1985 by New York Times that National Inter-University Union (student organization founded in 1969) received $575,000 from NED & Force Ouvriere given $830,000 by NED as grants because they opposed French President Mitterands policies.


1988 Chilean Plebiscite – citizens voting whether to retain government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. US became involved through NED giving $600,000 to opposition groups. US Congress gave NED another $1m to distribute in Chile to get voters to come & vote for the Opposition (NED Chile was a success)


1989 Nicaraguan election (2 years after Iran-Contras scandal) – “Project Democracy” covert attempt to oust Sandinista. NED funded Presidential candidate Violetta Chamorro – widow of Pedro Joaquin owner of La Prensa pro-US newspaper who was murdered in 1978 for his CIA links. NED provided $15m in overt political assistance in Nicaragua. In 1989 NED provided $12.5m to promote democracy (Sharkey)


1994 Congressional authorization fight – In the first year of operations Congress authorized $18m. in 1994 it increased to $48m but later reduced to $35m

If NED doesn’t give money to anything conflicting with US interests, it invariably implies NED only gives money to those entities that compliment US interests (whether they promote freedom or not). Operative word is ‘interests’. Therefore, anyone known to be a recipient of NED funding is definitely aligned to US interests & have its ‘democracy ‘tailored to local needs’.


Critics of NED claim it is only duplicating what USAID & USIA already performs which is why members of Congress are calling to cut international funding for ‘democracy’ overseas. The 1995 General Accounting Office report recommended the continuance of NED only if it proved it was more effective than USAID or USIA. As per GAO, NED was still less effective than USAID.


NED operates in countries in secret & with groups that are meant to operate in secret. This is what raises doubts in people. If the programs are genuine, why the secrecy? It is obvious that within the fancy terms and names used for the programs is a bigger program kept undisclosed possibly even from the groups. How ironic for people claiming to be ‘democratic’ but doing things in secret. Even the American public are questioning the NED secrecy.


US Congress grants NED – NED grants local groups to promote American ‘democracy’ & free markets (implying open to US trade)

NED grants often means increase in US military personnel in the country, more US interference in internal affairs of a country. NED always fishes in troubled economies which implies it succeeds better where countries are weak when countries are vulnerable. The next question is – do they help to make the country weak & vulnerable with their programs?


NED claims success for

  • breaking up the Warsaw Pact
  • “freedom” in Chile
  • “freedom” in Haiti
  • Supporting “democracy” in Soviet Union & China


NED grants for education to countries means that the curricula is designed as per US wishes. Essentially, the aim is to denationalize children and steer them towards the ‘values’ that US wishes to promote.


NED grants for small & medium business means encouraging them to lobby for open markets & liberalizations to US and West’s advantage.


NED grants to media & publishing means promoting media as per US agenda. There are so many ways to present a fact or even a lie.


NED grants promoting women’s issues aims at steering women away from cultural roots.


Thus when NED grants to youth, rule of law, judiciary, military relations, civil society — we do not need to make second guesses as to what the ulterior aims are.


NED grants to China in 1990s – MEDIA & PUBLISHING


In 1990s NED awarded $4.9m in 9 grants to DEMOCRATIC CHINA to support media & publishing in China. DEMOCRATIC CHINA is a Chinese magazine containing articles promoting democracy in mainland China & democratization in Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau.


CHINA PERSPECTIVE INC was also recipient of NED 7 grants under media & publishing to promote democratic values via THE CHINESE INTELLECTUAL a Chinese language quarterly.


PRESS FREEDOM GUARDIAN – a bi-weekly Chinese language newspaper also received NED 8 media & publishing grants.


CHINESE ECONOMISTS SOCIETY – received 4 NED media & publishing grants to prepare educational books on benefits of market economy

THE NEW ERA – received 4 NED media & publishing grants.


CHINA STRATEGIC INSTITUTE received $300,000 & $130,000 in 1996 and $170,000 in 1997 for research & to write for constitutional reforms in China.


CENTRE FOR MODERN CHINA received $265,000 NED media & publishing funding to create 2 journals – MODERN CHINA STUDIES & JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY CHINA – the focus was on rule of law in China & was to be promoted to use in Chinese law schools. The aim was to overhaul Chinese legal system.


PRINCETON CHINA INITIATIVE – received 5 NED grants totaling $234,000. This group comprised dissident Chinese intellectuals & was to create 2 journals – THE ROAD / CHINA FOCUS.


FOUNDATION FOR CHINA was given $150,000 NED grant to publish 2 books on Tibet & Taiwan. NED also helped create Chinese literary magazine TODAY which peddle wester human rights and pro-democratic values.


NED grants to China in 1990s – LABOUR ($4.1m)


$2.5m given to Asian-American Free Labour Institute (1993-1998) to fund labor activists in China & Hong Kong & Taiwan.

$1.6m given to LAOGAI RESEARCH FOUNDATION via NED’s core grantee American Centre for International Labour Solidarity.


NED grants to China in 1990s – ELECTIONS ($3.3m)


NED via International Republican Institute awarded 2 grants in 1995 & 1999 to support electoral reform in China, to educate public on election procedures & to lobby Chinese government to change election laws.


ASSOCIATION OF TOWNS & TOWNSHIPS received $875,000 in 1998 to support electoral reforms at village level by training local election administrators.


ASSOCIATION FOR GRASSROOTS GOVERNANCE & INSTITUTE FOR ASIA-PACIFIC STUDIES received $600,000 each in 1996 to hold workshops to train provincial & local elected officials in China


NED funding was given to NDI (National Democratic Institute) to award CHINA STRATEGIC INSTITUTEto analyze Hong Kong’s election process & publish research papers on China’s failure of human rights & electoral system.


NED grants to China in 1990s – HUMAN RIGHTS ($2.7m)


$1.1m given to Human Rights in China Inc (1993-1999) to provide legal services to political prisoners, appraise Chinese citizens of their rights, document human rights abuses, human rights issues related to women.

LAOGAI RESEARCH FOUNDATION awarded $752,400 from 1992-1999 for human rights activities, creating & maintaining a human rights database on China’s forced labor prison camps, publicizing China’s prisons internationally, detention of political prisoners without trial, producing documentaries on public executions in China.


NED grants to China in 1990s – PUBLIC POLICY ($1.8m)


$1.1m to ASSOCIATION OF TOWNS & TOWNSHIPS to conduct surveys & determine training needs of local governments in China, reform election practices at village level & legal reform at provincial level.

NATIONAL LEAGUE FOR DEMOCRACY – NED grant to support public policy in China

CHINA CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH – NED grant for lecture series for government officials and economists promoting new university textbooks for economic reform in China.

CENTRE FOR MODERN CHINA – NED grant to aid public policy



NED grants to China in 1990s – EDUCATION ($1.3m)

NATIONAL LEAGURE FOR DEMOCRACY received $305,125 from 1991-1996 to train leaders in strategic planning techniques & train citizens to oppose government through non-violence.

HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA INC was given NED grant to support human rights education

FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS & DEMOCRACY IN CHINA received NED grant to promote education in China & fund research.


NED also gave grants to



NED grants to China in 1990s – BUSINESS & ECONOMY ($1.2m)

CHINESE ECONOMISTS SOCIETY given NED grants to conduct conference on China’s transition to a market economy & showcase problems with state-run industries in China & to encourage privatization of financial sector in Guangdong Province and to establish a “Private Enterprise Management Training Centre” to train young Chinese entrepreneurs.

CHINA CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH was given NED grant to establish China Economic Network & an economic-training program for young faculty at China’s colleges & universities.

UNIRULE INSTITUTE OF ECONOMICS given NED grants to hold bi-weekly forums & debates on economic reform issues for entrepreneurs, academics, government officials & journalists.

CENTRE FOR MODERN CHINA given NED grants to fund publication & distribution of a series of academic papers focusing on solutions offered for a free market to China’s economic problems.


According to the dissertation research by Eric T. Hale, NED has not been successful at promoting democracy & economic freedom in the 1990s.


If NED had been so active in China in the 1990s, it is not difficult to imagine the inroads beyond 21stcentury.


NED financed

  • Oct 2000 Velvet Revolution in Serbia overthrowing Milosevic Govt
  • 1999-2000 NED funded Serbian opposition $41m & secretly trained college students before they were used for rioting by Otpori. US-funded advisors were behind the scenes tracking polls, training opposition activists & organizing surveys (Washington Post)
  • 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia, forcing President Shevardnadze to step down with NED ‘selecting’ opposition leaders, training & funding them. Over $600,000 given to 12 NGOs.
  • 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine – NED gives $65m to Ukrainian Opposition.
  • 2013 Ukraine – NED funded 65 NGOs to organize massive anti-government demonstrations & even ‘paid’ protestors.
  • 2014 – Ria Novosti reported NED funded $14m to overthrow Yanukovych govt
  • 2011 Arab Spring in Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, Syria, Libya – NED supported pro-American youth, brainwashed their minds with anti-govt ideas, incited hated & created social unrest & economic recession.
  • Jan 2011 – Egypt anti-govt demonstrations leading to 11 Feb resignation of President Hosni Mubarak (a close ally of US) NED worked with NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR CHANGE & the APRIL 6 YOUTH MOVEMENT.
  • Yemen – NED worked with WOMEN JOURNALISTS WITHOUT CHAINS to organize rallies against Saleh Govt
  • Bolivia – NED worked to force President Evo Morales to resign & go into exile using ‘street movements’. NED & USAID funded $70m anti-Morales movements
  • NED funded “Xianjian independence’ “Uyghurs” “Tibet independence” “Hong Kong Independence” & now Pelosi visit to Taiwan shows heavy involvement of US-NED-USAID in China.


NED is active in Sri Lanka. NED has funded Sri Lankan NGOs to the tune of $1m in 2021 alone. If NED has funded street movements, paid demonstrators, funded riots, paid NGOs to train youth elsewhere to overthrow elected leaders, destabilize countries — do you think NED will not be replicating the same programs in Sri Lanka? Now merge that with the NGOs – youth – women & other players active in the recent “protests” and begin asking yourself questions and seeking answers for yourself.




Shenali D Waduge



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