China’s Infiltration in US State and Local Governments

Voting Guides Need “Beijing Inside” Stickers

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In the first five months of 2020, China has:

  • attempted to cover up the coronavirus outbreak and its origins
  • hoarded medical equipment and gouged prices
  • sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat
  • infringed on Japanese air space
  • threatened the sovereignty of Taiwan
  • unleashed violent police-state repression against peaceful, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong
  • attempted to hack drug companies doing coronavirus vaccine research
  • threatened Australia and other countries who called for an investigation into the coronavirus
  • engaged in military skirmishes with India
  • established  administrative districts for islands it does not own in the South China Sea
  • named 80 features in the Paracel and Spratly islands which it has no claim to, including 25 islands, shoals and reefs and 55 oceanic mountains and ridges
  • finally, when faced with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Beijing has increased their defense budget by 6.6%

US intelligence services, many in the Trump administration, and most US citizens agree that China poses a threat to the United States and to the free world. In spite of all of the evidence of Beijing’s aggressive and expansionist nature, there are still politicians, business leaders, media, and independent citizens who are willing to support Beijing. Thus furthering the interests of the Communist Party of China.

“U.S. political and business leaders for decades pushed the idea that embracing trade with China would help to normalize its behavior, but Beijing’s aggressive espionage efforts have fueled an emerging bipartisan consensus in Washington that the hope was misplaced.”

Article, “Chinese Spies are on the Offensive”, Atlantic Monthly, Aug. 2019

China Given a Pass

For years, the theory was that China was a young country, just learning its way as a global player. The theory was, if the rest of the world would forgive PRC’s transgressions, eventually economic development would lead to democratic reforms. This would lead to an understanding within the Chinese government. They would have more to gain than to lose by adopting Western standard rules of fair trade and international engagement.

It has been more than forty years since China began its economic transformation and yet, they still have not altered their behavior or become a good, global neighbor. The Trump administration realizes this and is consequently taking an increasingly harsh stance against China. Meanwhile, others are choosing to benefit themselves and support China, at the expense of national security. We are selling ourselves out by allowing short-term corruption to rule.

State Senators Supporting China

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) was able to convince Beijing to buy $200 million in Montana steaks. At the same time, Daniers agreed to host a delegation of Chinese leaders who oversee Tibet. And while Daines was lavishing the oppressors of Tibet, Lobsang Sangay the leader of the Tibetan government in exile was leading a delegation of Tibetans in Washington meeting with the US government. They were there to testify at The House Foreign Affairs Asia subcommittee on Chinese repression in Tibet.

The two visits essentially cancelled each other out. The China Daily, the communist party newspaper, reported that at the dinner, Daniers praised the Chinese leaders handling of Tibet. Around the world, protesters against the human right abuses committed by the Communist party of China have been pushing for the street in front of the Chinese embassy to be renamed for Liu Xiaobo. He was the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died in Chinese government detention. When the Liu Xiaobo bill was raised in congress, Daniers told other congressmen that he opposed such a measure.

Utah State Senator Howard Stephenson introduced the Chinese government’s Hanban institute to the Utah school system. That allowed the Communist Party of China to install state-sponsored and state-censored educational programs in 76 public schools. The National Pulse warned that this move “made American schoolchildren puppets in the CCP’s global propaganda campaign.” Stephenson, however, welcomed China’s takeover of Utah’s classes, stating “We have to recognize the emergence of China as the economic power and world’s largest population-wise nation, and we as Americans must realize that China is our future, and we should be China’s future.” He went on to say, “I have complete confidence in Han Ban teachers and am impressed with how committed they are to teaching Utah’s math and science curriculum with full fidelity.” In 2018, Stephenson honored Hanban’s deputy director-general at the Utah State Capitol.

State Assembly

While many US schools and universities maintain their relationship with Hanban, countless others have dissolved the collaboration. Obviously because of Hanban’s dissemination of Communist propaganda, censorship, and control. Critics of these arrangements point out that if politicians want students to study Mandarin, they could just as easily partner with the government of Taiwan. It is at least a democratic ally of the United States.

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The speaker of the New York assembly received a message from the PRC consul general. The message went “Avoid engaging in any official contact with Taiwan, including sending congratulatory messages to the elected, introducing bills and proclamations for the election, sending officials and representatives to attend the inauguration ceremony, and inviting officials in Taiwan to visit the United States.” Chinese consulates in Illinois, Texas, and California sent similar letters to the respective state assemblies. Secretary of State Pompeo characterized these incidents as an employee of the communist party of China attempting to instruct how an elected, US state official should behave, concerning a US ally, Taiwan.

In another instance, the embassy of the People’s Republic of China contacted the speaker of the Wisconsin State Senate, asking him to propose a resolution to praise China’s handling of the Coronavirus.

Governors Targeted by China

“If you really want to influence, let’s say, US- China policy,” he said, “it’s almost worth it to have emphasis and influence on the state level.”  The Chinese government has tried to forge relationships with state governors in order to influence national policies. In 2019, the US-China Governors’ Collaborative Summit was organized by the National Governors’ Association and the Association for Friendship and Foreign Countries. That is an organization which is directly controlled by the United Front Work Department, the influence arm of the communist party of China. “Collaboration” or “Cooperation” are words which CCP uses to mean, convincing others to take action which furthers the objectives of the Communist Party. A web of deceit makes it hard to recognize.

D&C Think, a Chinese think tank which partners with the United Front Work Department. It published a report rating all 50 US governors on how friendly they were toward Beijing. The report stated that “Governors can ignore orders from the White House, change or even cancel local governments such as cities, counties, and school districts…[and] enjoy a certain degree of diplomatic independence.” The Chinese government uses this type of information, along with economic and other data on each state, to find vulnerabilities in order to determine who to approach and how to buy their loyalty.

Chinese Influence at the State Level

A former South Carolina governor connected Chinese businessman and former legislator Wang Wenliang with officials from the US. In 2013 and 2014, Wang Wenliang, contributed $120,000 to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s campaign (The Hoover Institute, 2018). Governor McAuliffe was known to have made numerous visits to China, seeking investors for an electric car company he was affiliated with. In the end, he became the subject of an FBI probe.

In 2017, University of California, San Diego students were paid by the Chinese Consulate to protest the Dalai Lama. Another instance was when the Chinese Consulate in Houston contacted then governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant. It threatened to cancel an investment if Governor Bryant traveled to Taiwan. At the school board level, a school in Chicago cancelled an invitation to a Taiwanese representative taking part in a climate change panel. Most likely for fear of losing CCP funding for the school’s Chinese language program.

Antonio Graceffo
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