by Christopher C. Hull
What if the real winner of November’s presidential election was Red China?
China apparently sees it that way. Its Global Times mouthpiece rejoiced that Joe Biden had selected “a group of ‘elites’” who would be “very ‘predictable’ in foreign policy with a multilateral mind-set.” A prominent Chinese professor, in a now-purged speech, lamented China’s loss of influence during Donald Trump’s presidency – but enthused, “now we’re seeing Biden was elected, the traditional elite, the political elite, the establishment, they’re very close to Wall Street,” and noted that “Biden’s son has some sort of global foundation. . . . There are a lot of deals inside all these.”
What deals? In May 2017, Hunter Biden expressed concerns that his partnership with Chinese energy conglomerate CEFC China Energy, which had become China’s fourth-largest energy firm before suddenly going out of business, might run afoul of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). CEFC’s chairman, Ye Jianming, was the former head of a front group for the People’s Liberation Army that “performs dual roles of intelligence collection and conducting propaganda and perception management campaigns.” In August 2017, CEFC wired $5 million to Hudson West III, a company created by Hunter Biden and Gongwen Dong, a Chinese national who executed transactions for companies controlled by Ye. Hudson West III in turn passed a total of $4.79 million to Hunter’s law firm, Owasco PC, in a series of wire transfers that began the same day as the $5 million arrived. U.S. regulators flagged the first wire transfer as “potential criminal financial activity.”
Was Joe Biden directly involved? Less than two months after CEFC’s first transfer, Hunter emailed the manager of his Washington office building, asking her to make keys for his “office mates” Joe Biden and Dong, whom he called an “emissary” for CEFC’s chairman. More recently, Hunter’s business partner alleged that the former vice president was “plainly familiar” with his family’s Chinese business dealings, describing Biden as the “big guy” who would hold 10 percent in a joint-venture deal with Hunter Biden and CEFC.
As regards China, the team that Biden is assembling deserves scrutiny – not just because of Hunter’s activities, and not just because, as hard-left Axios reported recently, Biden himself “wants to de-emphasize the military as an instrument of national power.”
Blinken has a past on China: on behalf of Vice President Biden, he personally (and arguably illegally) overruled multiple Obama-era State and Justice Department officials and rejected the asylum claim of Wang Lijun, a senior Chinese communist official who feared for his life after the murder of a British businessman but who inconveniently sought to defect days before the state visit of then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jingping. The U.S. consulate handed Wang over to China’s Ministry of State Security, after which he was placed in “vacation-style treatment” and ultimately sentenced to 15 years in prison for his attempted defection.
During the 2020 campaign, Blinken argued that the U.S. withdrawal from international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) had created a void, and that “China has now raised his hand and said we’re going to fill it.” He has it backwards: With Joe Biden as vice president, Obama’s team helped China capture such organizations, including WHO, which went on to work directly against the U.S.
On COVID-19, Blinken’s new boss smeared Trump’s decision to shut down travel to China as “hysterical xenophobia;” excluded a travel ban from his own coronavirus plan, even for Wuhan; and only in April backed the Trump travel ban – then disingenuously criticized Trump for not enacting it sooner.
Biden’s pick for national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, has expressed support for abandoning Taiwan in exchange for Chinese-held U.S. debt; advocated an approach that “encourages China’s rise;” and trashed Trump foreign policy on a China propaganda channel.
In United Nations Secretary-designate Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s view, “The restoration of American hegemony is not in the cards, given China’s rise and the diffusion of global power.” Instead, she opines, “U.S. diplomacy has to accept the country’s diminished, but still pivotal, role in global affairs,” and show “more humility about the wilting power of the American example.”
Moreover, critics charge that Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry “spent his time as Secretary of State proclaiming the virtues of positive engagement with Beijing,” and that “his willingness to give Iran everything it wanted in the 2015 nuclear deal should make China optimistic that he’ll be generous in the coming climate negotiations.” Kerry bolstered that impression in 2019, working to enlist politicians and celebrities to launch “World War Zero,” to “mobilize Americans and citizens everywhere to tackle climate change and pollution.” That effort kicked off with a “major social media campaign and an initial six-figure print and digital advertising buy,” as well as town halls across the country – across the U.S., that is. No word on what World War Zero did to encourage China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, to join in, as American emissions hit their lowest point in 30 years.
Finally, Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s pick to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was investigated during his time in the Obama administration for allegedly helping the friends of prominent Democrats – including Chinese nationals – manipulate a program that provides green cards to foreigners who invest more than $500,000 in a U.S. development project. As Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sums it up, an Obama inspector general found Mayorkis “guilty of selling Green Cards to Chinese nationals on behalf of rich, democratic donors. He is disqualified from leading the Department of Homeland Security.”
In light of the Hunter Biden revelations, critics have asked whether Red China compromised Joe Biden. Perhaps the more relevant question is: even if it has, how would one tell the difference?
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Christopher C. Hull, Ph.D., a Senior Fellow at Americans for Intelligence Reform and Adjunct Professor at the Institute of World Politics, serves as President of Issue Management Inc., a grassroots and national security public affairs firm.