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Chinese communist party is funding DC policy groups and conducting influence ops, new report says

Symbol of the Communist Party (Dong Fang/Wikimedia Commons)
September 03, 2018

Another source of China’s communist influence on the U.S. has been revealed in a new congressional report.

A new congressional commission report revealed the Communist Party in China has been funding Washington think tanks and also using coercive tactics against Chinese Americans, The Washington Free Beacon reported last week.

“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,” the report said.

“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,” it added.

The party’s influence efforts are conducted through the United Front Work Department, whose strategy consists of funding Washington think tanks in an attempt to influence their decisions, such as those that adhere to and support Chinese policies.

The United Front Work Department serves as a central committee for the party, hosting tens of thousands of employees undergoing operations to push policies of the Communist Party.

The People’s Political Consultative Conference is one party group that orders the United Front Work Department’s efforts. The congressional report identified the Conference’s vice chairman, Tung Chee-hwa, as one figure who funded the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, which is the leading institute for foreign policy education and analysis. The funding specifically came from Tung’s Hong Kong-based non-profit group, the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation (CUSEF).

CUSEF is also a registered Chinese agent, and is linked to the Chinese government for engaging in the same influence efforts and employing the same public relations firm. The commission report stated that CUSEF “spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for ‘China-U.S. relations’ as a registered foreign agent.”

Larry Wortzel, former military intelligence officer in China and current member of the China Commission, said the report is a valuable asset in revealing 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,” Wortzel said. “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,” he said.

The United Front Work Department also works to recruit students to shut down negative discussion of China and promote the communist agenda on college campuses across the U.S. It does so by targeting members of the 142 Chinese Students and Scholars Associations in the U.S.

The associations “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,” the report said. “Chinese intelligence officers posted in diplomatic facilities are the primary point of contact for CSSA members.”

These efforts appear to be part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s strategy to implement arms of communist influence worldwide.

The commission report called the United Front Work Department’s efforts a significant risk, adding “the extent of its organization and influence is still relatively unknown among policymakers.”