An investigation by The Associated Press has found that China and its U.S.-based advocates spent years building relationships with the Utah’s officials and lawmakers.

Those efforts have paid dividends at home and abroad, the AP found: Lawmakers delayed legislation Beijing didnt like, nixed resolutions that conveyed displeasure with its actions and expressed support in ways that enhanced the Chinese governments image.

Its work in Utah is emblematic of a broader effort by Beijing to secure allies at the local level as its relations with the U.S. and its western allies have turned acrimonious.

U.S. officials say local leaders are at risk of being manipulated by China and have deemed the influence campaign a threat to national security.