While the Democrats and MSM continue to obsess and rant about the alleged Trump-Russian collusion, for which not a shred of credible evidence has been unearthed after more than a year of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, America is oblivious to the real foreign threat — China.
For all its market reforms since 1979, the People’s Republic of China remains a single-party state where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a monopoly on political power and government. For that matter, the market reforms have only made China wealthy, especially CCP members and government officials, as well as modernized a retrograde military into one that is flexing its muscles as China exerts irredentist claims over the East and South China Seas.
Did you know that China has more millionaires than Japan and the United Kingdom, combined?
Being a single-party dictatorship, when we say the Chinese government is doing this or that, what we really should say is that the Chinese Communist Party is doing so and so.
Not only is the CCP engaged in unprecedented espionage in the United States — recruiting the personal driver of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and using fake LinkedIn accounts to recruit countless other Americans with access to sensitive government and business secrets — the CCP is also exercising its “soft power” malefic influence over America by creating Confucius Institutes and centers of Chinese language and culture education and research, and funding conferences and symposia in U.S. colleges and universities (see Inside Higher Ed).
Now comes news that the Chinese Communist government is funding left-leaning think tanks in Washington, DC.
Bill Gertz reports for the Washington Free Beacon, August 24, 2018, that according to a congressional commission report on China, the Chinese Communist Party is intensifying covert influence operations in the United States through its Central Committee organ, the United Front Work Department that employs tens of thousands of overt and covert operatives. One means of China’s “influence operation” is funding Washington think tanks.
Note: The report, China’s Overseas United Front Work: Background and Implications for the Unites States, is published by Congress’ US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, August 24, 2018, authored by Alexander Bowe, a policy analyst specializing in security and foreign affairs.
China’s goal in funding think tanks is to change American debates on China and U.S. China policy without Beijing having to use its own voice by having the think tanks adopt positions that support Beijing’s policies. The report says:
The [Chinese Communist Party] has sought to influence academic discourse on China and in certain instances has infringed upon—and potentially criminally violated—rights to freedoms of speech and association that are guaranteed to Americans and those protected by U.S. laws. Despite the CCP’s candid discussion of its United Front strategy, the breadth and depth of this issue remain relatively unknown to U.S. policymakers.
According to the congressional China report, Chinese President Xi Jingpinhas elevated the role of the communist influence organs to promote Chinese communism worldwide via “united front” organizations. Xi regards United Front work as a “magic weapon” for use in what he calls the rejuvenation of China. Since becoming Party general secretary in 2012, Xi has added new departments and 40,000 more people to the ranks of the CCP’s United Front Work Department. The report says:
The goal of ‘overseas Chinese work’ [by the CCP’s United Front organizations] is to use ethnic, cultural, economic, or political ties to mobilize sympathetic overseas Chinese communities—ideally of their own accord—to advocate for the interests of the CCP and marginalize its opponents. Chinese intelligence services have been known to coerce overseas Chinese to function as operatives targeting other overseas Chinese in both the United States and other countries, indicating that these agencies actively participate in overseas Chinese work that seeks to hide official connections.
Washington think tanks that have received funding from China and are influential in American policy circles include:
- The Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies, a major foreign policy education and analysis institute, has received funding from Tung Chee-hwa, a vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) — the party group that directs the United Front Work Department and includes a member of the CCP’s highest organ, the Standing Committee of the Politburo Standing Committee. The funding for Johns Hopkins came from Tung’s non-profit group in Hong Kong, the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), which is a registered Chinese agent, uses the same public relations firm as the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for China-U.S. relations.
- Atlantic Council
- Brookings Institution
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- Carter Center
- Center for American Progress (CAP): The Center denies receiving money from China. However, it cooperated with, though without financial contribution from, the China-US Exchange Foundation — a registered foreign agent — in producing a joint report in 2014.
- EastWest Institute
US-China Economic and Security Review Commission member Larry Wortzel, a former military intelligence officer once posted to China, said the report is important for exposing the activities of the United Front Work Department and the China People’s Political Consultative Conference:
“Most Americans and many members of Congress have no idea of the range of activities undertaken by this Chinese Communist Party web. It is a form of activity by Communist parties that dates back to the days of Lenin. Congress should consider legislation requiring anyone associated with the China People’s Political Consultative Conference, CUSEF, or the United Front Work Department to register as a foreign agent.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the collusion between groups like the Washington think tanks and the CCP’s United Front Work Department operatives is the Chinese Communist Party using Americans to “unwittingly promote CCP ideology” in a “countering voice” in debates over China. “Beijing seeks to outsource its messaging in part because it believes foreigners are more likely to accept propaganda if it appears to come from non-Chinese sources.”
According to the China report, in addition to funding Washington think tanks:
- Chinese intelligence officers in diplomatic posts recruit Chinese students and scholars in the U.S. to curtail universities’ discussion of China. The students are targeted through 142 Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSA) that “routinely coordinate with the Chinese government and … have been involved in the suppression of free speech and the harassment, intimidation, and surveillance of Chinese student activists.” Former Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin, who defected to Australia in 2005, said China uses both coercion and incentives to recruit Chinese students as informants.
- Confucius Institutes—Chinese government-funded centers that are used for influence and intelligence activities — located on hundreds of American campuses are used to “advance Beijing’s preferred narrative and subvert important academic principles such as institutional autonomy and academic freedom.” The congressional report notes that “Significantly, Confucius Institutes are funded by the CCP Propaganda Department—formally affiliated with the [United Front Work Department] —and are also overseen by personnel based in Chinese embassies and consulates.”
- Even more alarming are the Chinese military’s covert influence operations via a front organization called the China Association for International Friendly Contact (CAIFC). One of the works of CAIFC is the Sanya Initiative, a series of “track two” dialogues between retired senior flag officers of the U.S. and Chinese armed forces.The Sanya Initiative is led by retired Adm. William Owens, 78, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (appointed by Bill Clinton), who has used the Sanya group to lobby Congress and the Pentagon against annual publication of the China Military Power report.
Note: Track II diplomacy or “backchannel diplomacy” is the practice of “non-governmental, informal and unofficial contacts and activities between private citizens or groups of individuals, sometimes called ‘non-state actors’”.
The report concludes that the threat to the United States from China’s United Front operations is “significant” but “the extent of its organization and influence is still relatively unknown among policymakers.” Meanwhile, Congress is considering legislation to require:
- All organizations that promote the political agendas of foreign governments to register as foreign agents.
- Universities to disclose certain donations and gifts from foreign sources.
See also Breitbart‘s article on the corrupt connections Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), have with China: “New York Magazine: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Gets Her Own Ethics Scandal“.