China’s Communist Party is intensifying covert influence operations in the United States that include funding Washington think tanks and coercing Chinese Americans, according to a congressional commission report.
The influence operations are conducted by the United Front Work Department, a Central Committee organ that employs tens of thousands of operatives who seek to use both overt and covert operations to promote Communist Party policies.
The Party’s United Front strategy includes paying several Washington think tanks with the goal influencing their actions and adopting positions that support Beijing’s policies. . . .
The report said 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, the party group that directs the United Front Work Department and includes a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the collective dictatorship that rules China.
The funding for Johns Hopkins came from Tung’s non-profit group in Hong Kong, the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation, which is a registered Chinese agent.
In addition to Johns Hopkins, other think tanks linked to China and influential in American policy circles include the Brookings Institution, Atlantic Council, Center for American Progress, EastWest Institute, Carter Center, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The Exchange Foundation is tied to Chinese government influence operations and uses the same public relations firm as the Chinese embassy. . . .
In addition to the United Front Work Department, the report identified a Chinese military organization, the Liaison Department, that is engaged in propaganda operations, perception management activities, and intelligence collection.
“For example, the China Association for International Friendly Contact (CAIFC), a front organization for the former General Political Department, performs dual roles of intelligence collection and conducting propaganda and perception management campaigns, such as its work through the Sanya Initiative, a series of track two dialogues between retired senior flag officers of the U.S. and Chinese armed forces,” the report said.
The Sanya Initiative is led by retired Adm. Bill Owens, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has used the Sanya group to lobby Congress and the Pentagon against annual publication of the China Military Power report.
Another Communist Party front is the China Association for International Friendly Contact that is part of the Chinese military’s Central Military Commission’s Political Work Department.
The report concluded that the threat to the United States from United Front operations is “significant” but “the extent of its organization and influence is still relatively unknown among policymakers.”
It’s as if all this attention to Russia is just a distraction from what China is doing.