The other day on Newsmax TV, Sean Spicer, host of “Spicer & Co.” — Donald Trump’s former press secretary — asked me why China was so controversial in American politics.
By contrast, he cited opposition to Russia during the Cold War as an example of a bipartisan consensus in foreign policy. Why, he wondered, is opposition to China’s imperial dreams and aggressive policies such a point of controversy?
The strategy Russia used in its vain attempt to defeat the United States was confrontational.
Through military build-ups, nuclear bluster and bluff, the Russian bear challenged us.
It used ideology, propaganda, blackmail, and payoffs to recruit agents and spies to steal our atomic and other secrets.
Those efforts failed: Russia’s economy could not keep pace with its global ambitions.
But China, for all its military might, is an economic power.
It uses money to buy influence with our political leaders and their families.
Its economic clout helps it to take over American companies.
Newsmax reports that “According to Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, since 2002, Chinese financial interests have purchased more than $120 billion of assets in the U.S. economy. Close to 60% of the acquisitions were made by 15 Chinese government entities that are either sovereign wealth funds, state-owned enterprises, or government-connected private sectors firms.”
China invested particularly heavily in mobile, software, life sciences, AI (artificial intelligence), data, and other tech initiatives.
China’s interest in tech industries not only seeks to use the intellectual property of tech companies in which it invests to promote China’ products, but also to get personal data on all Americans.
Will Coggin, managing director of the American Security Institute, which runs www.ChinaOwnsUs.com, says that China “wants to have individual private data on everyone in this country. It is a data machine that wants to consume as much as possible. It’s all about control.”
Juscelino Filgueiras Colares, a political science and business law professor and co-director of the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center at Case Western Reserve University says that China’s investments in tech tech start-ups is dangerous because all emerging tech out of the U.S. is being spied on and sent back to China. “They are involved in a constant collection of data,” he said. “It’s a very concerning combination of using tech and leveraging information collection.”
But Chinese companies aren’t limiting their investments to just high tech.
China has sunk money into food, real estate, and gaming. Newsmax reports that:
* “Some of those mainstream, American-based companies that have their financial roots in China include AMC movie theater, the country’s largest theater chain; Legendary Entertainment Group, a movie studio; GE Appliances; Motorola Mobility; and others.”
* China owns the iconic American brand Smithfield Foods (known for its hams).
* In 2015, The Chinese holding company Tencent bought full control of Riot Games, which is known for creating the popular video game “League of Legends.”
* China also has a foothold in the hotel industry. China’s Anbang Insurance Group purchased the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan for nearly $2 billion in 2014. It then bought Strategic Hotels & Resorts from the Blackstone Group. The $6.5 billion transaction netted Anbang 16 properties with 7,532 rooms, meeting spaces, and banquet spaces. The properties included Ritz-Carltons in California, the Fairmont Scottsdale in Arizona, and the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Will Coggin, managing director of the American Security Institute, which runs www.ChinaOwnsUs.com speculates that China could be targeting properties known to attract VIP guests like politicians and business executives so they can spy on them.
China expert and author Gordon Chang has said China wants to control U.S. companies so it can achieve tech dominance as well as pit these companies against the U.S. as it attempts to destroy the American political system and the economy. “When [China] owns a company, they have influence over the company’s direction and the people,” he said. “We have got to be concerned. We should be breaking those linkages.”
And, with those linkages comes the ability to use the U.S. campaign finance laws to leverage and co-opt politicians. While direct foreign contributions to American political campaigns is illegal, the vast network of companies and American citizens China owns and employs makes it possible for Beijing to buy influence covertly.
In 1996, for example, Bob Woodward and Brian Duffy, of The Washington Post reported that agents of China sought to direct contributions from foreign sources to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) before the 1996 presidential campaign.
Of course, China’s close relationship with Hunter Biden has attracted a great deal of attention. Viewed in the context of Biden’s subsequent presidential actions — staying Trump’s ban on Chinese investment in our electric grid, killing the Keystone XL Pipeline (freeing oil to go to China), and banning the use of the phrase “China virus,” there needs to be a closer examination of those links.
But less publicized is the possibility that China’s generosity in funding the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center a policy institute launched by then former vice president Joe Biden in 2017, might have been an attempt to buy influence.
A letter from from House Committee on Oversight and Reform ranking member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., House Committee on the Judiciary ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and the House Committee on Education and Labor ranking member Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., asked the school to reveal if China’s grants to Penn went to the Biden Center.
Since the Center opened, Chinese grants to the university as a whole grew from $21 million to $72 million.
The school refuses to break out how much went to the Biden Center.
Incoming Biden Secretary of State Antony Blinken ran the Biden Center before his appointment and several top Biden aides had worked there.
The Congressmen said that full disclosure of the connection of the Biden Center with China is vital to “shed light on the depth and breadth of the potential improper influence” China enjoys over the Biden family.
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