On December 18, 2018, the CCP celebrated the fortieth anniversary of so-called reform and opening-up. It awarded the China Reform Friendship Medal to ten foreigners in an attempt to “thank the international community for supporting China’s reform.” These ten foreigners included Juan Antonio Samaranch, former president of the IOC, which granted China the right to host the 2008 Summer Olympics; and Robert Lawrence Kuhn, an American businessman who lent his name as author of a fawning biography of the former head of the CCP, Jiang Zemin. In fact, over the past few decades, countless politicians and celebrities have helped the CCP by playing different roles, depending on their motivations. Unfortunately, all have become victims of the CCP’s united-front tactics and thus accomplices.
In order to advance its goal of ultimately dominating the world, the CCP adopts any means necessary. This is a key part of the “united front” concept. Mao labeled the united front as one of the CCP’s “three magic treasures.” The civil war-era Kuomintang government was deceived by these tactics and suffered great losses as a result.. Today’s Western governments have also been deceived and suffered losses. The good news is that Western society is beginning to wake up, and a number of investigative reports about the united front have recently been published.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), a Congressional commission, issued a report titled China’s Overseas United Front Work on Aug. 24, 2018, outlining the CCP’s overseas united front work structure and operations, including how the CCP uses various types of governmental and non-governmental organizations for its united-front work and what the implications have been to the United States and other Western countries. In recent years, the CCP has emphasized the importance of its united front work. The report states, “This elevation of the importance of United Front work has resulted in an increased number of UFWD officials assigned to top CCP and government posts, adding roughly 40,000 new UFWD cadres.”
Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI), a think tank in Europe, published a report in 2018 detailing the activities of CCP’s united front in Europe. On Nov. 29, 2018, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University also released a detailed report on the same topic. The report states: “China’s influence activities have moved beyond their traditional United Front focus on diaspora communities to target a far broader range of sectors in Western societies, ranging from think tanks, universities, and media to state, local, and national government institutions. China seeks to promote views sympathetic to the Chinese Government, policies, society, and culture; suppress alternative views; and co-opt key American players to support China’s foreign policy goals and economic interests.”
The CCP’s united front primarily targets the following actors in the West:
Bribing Politicians and Businesspeople
The USCC report says the CCP regards its united front work as an important tool to strengthen domestic and international support for the Party. This includes buying off Western politicians. Through persuasion, temptation, and relationship-building, the CCP maintains close ties with many high-level officials in Western governments. These politicians are treated as the PRC’s “state treasures,” given lavish gifts, and conferred titles such as “old friends of China.” Among them are current and former United Nations secretary generals, heads of states, high-ranking government officials, members of Congress, senior government advisers, heads of international organizations, famous academics and think-tank scholars, and media consortium tycoons. All these people in the united front network are expected to voice their support for the CCP at crucial moments.
Patrick Ho Chi-ping, a former Hong Kong secretary for Home Affairs, was indicted in the United States for bribery in December 2018. Ho had close ties to the CCP, and bribed high-ranking officials in two African nations on behalf of Chinese energy corporations in order to obtain mining rights. Ho also bribed two U.N. secretary generals, through whom the CCP was able to establish close ties to high-ranking officials in other nations.
U.S. court papers also document the corruption and espionage carried out by Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE. Two high-ranking telecom officials in Liberia testified that between 2005 and 2007, ZTE heavily bribed numerous officials in that country, including the president, government officials, and judges.
The CCP uses money and women to entrap political leaders and then use them as pawns for the regime’s ends. In a memorandum following the November 2014 midterm U.S. elections, CEFC, a CCP-linked company, outlined a plan to establish relationships and friendships with politicians. Ye Jianming, the now-disgraced chairman of CEFC China Energy Company Limited, has strong ties with European political leaders. He once asked a security advisor for a U.S. president whether he could persuade the U.S. army not to bomb Syria because he wanted to buy up oil fields there. Ye also boasted connections to senior officials at the Federal Reserve and the United Nations, as well as family members of U.S. government officials.
When deemed necessary, the CCP can form various temporary united fronts to isolate its enemies. For instance, the CCP has used the votes of developing nations whose officials it previously suborned to pass or block motions at the United Nations. Via proxies, it has disrupted U.S. efforts to stabilize the Middle East. In the meantime, it has been able to forge new economic alliances. In the recent U.S.-China trade war, the CCP sought to sow conflict between the United States and Europe with the aim of using the latter as part of another united front against the United States
Local politicians are also targets of the CCP’s united front work. These include community leaders, city council members, mayors, state senators, and others. The usual approach is to donate to local politicians through Chinese organizations or merchants, who are invited to visit China where they receive bribes. Their family businesses gets special treatment in China, and even their assistants are bribed. Cases of sexual entrapment, often involving blackmail, are known as “honey traps,” and the CCP is thought to use this tactic often.
Chen Yonglin, former officer at the Chinese Consulate in Sydney, who defected in 2005 to Australia, told The Epoch Times that the CCP’s United Front Work Department had infiltrated the Australian government and corrupted officials. Chen said: “The amount of private bribery for the officials far surpassed political donations. Especially those higher-ranking officials; the bribes were huge. … Another aspect of bribery is the all-expenses paid trips to China, where officials are treated as kings. This includes prostitution paid for by Chinese companies. Many officials changed their stances after returning from China.”
With its strong financial backing, the CCP has paid communist and leftist politicians around the world to become its agents in those nations in order to further spread communist ideology.
The CCP uses the same tactics on those in the financial sector and a number of industries. Business people and entrepreneurs are treated as kings and given business incentives. In return, they become the CCP’s voice for lobbying the government and influencing the country’s financial and economic policies. In the U.S.-China trade war, the CCP has had frequent contact with Wall Street tycoons. Many top financial companies and international corporations do business in China. In order to expand their business there, they hired numerous children of high-ranking Chinese officials, called “princelings,” and the latter are the Party’s eyes, ears, and voice in such companies.
Infiltrating Academic Circles and Think Tanks
Many think tanks in the West directly shape the country’s policy and strategy toward China; therefore, the CCP pays special attention to them. The report by the Hoover Institute states that the CCP pays attention to perspectives of both political parties in the United States and creates topics that are beneficial to the CCP. The CCP exerts control over think tanks via financial sponsorship. It has bribed, controlled, or influenced almost all think tanks related to China.
The Washington Post reports that some Chinese companies control American think tanks. For example, the Chinese tech giant Huawei not only poses a security threat to the United States, but also tries to influence think tanks in Washington, D.C., by providing them with financial support.
Huawei also sponsors over twenty universities in the U.K., including Cambridge University and Oxford University. Professor Anthony Glees, a British expert in national security, said: “This is about the electronic agenda being driven by the injection of Chinese money into British universities. That is a national security issue.” Huawei, through the Seeds for the Future program, attracted a large number of young talented engineers — a classic communist subversion tactic.
The CCP buys overseas scholars, especially China scholars, with money, status, and fame. Some such scholars then closely follow the CCP’s rhetoric, publishing books and articles to explain the CCP’s “peaceful rise,” the concepts of the “China dream” or the “China model.” The viewpoints of these scholars then indirectly influence the China policies of Western governments — precisely the CCP’s goal.
To make things worse, over the past several decades, Western humanities scholars and sociologists have been heavily influenced by strains of communist ideology. With a small amount of CCP influence, they can go from merely supporting leftist ideology to actually embracing communism.
Coercing and Using Overseas Chinese Leaders, Businessmen, and Students
The CCP has successfully exploited the patriotism of overseas Chinese students to create sympathy for CCP policies and ideology. To gain the support of overseas Chinese, the CCP provides them with financial support. It frequently uses the phrase “the love for one’s homeland, the friendship of kin” as part of its deliberate conflation of China and the CCP in order to deceive overseas Chinese. The Party also uses an extensive overseas network of organizations, supporters, and spies to marginalize and attack its opponents.
The CCP uses various pretexts to invite overseas Chinese to do business and invest in China. It gives overseas Chinese leaders special treatment when visiting the country, arranges overseas pro-CCP figures to meet with high-ranking officials, and has them all attend PRC national-day celebrations.
Zach Dorfman, senior fellow at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, published a long investigative report in Politico revealing Chinese and Russian espionage activities in Silicon Valley, with particular focus on Chinese actors. The report examined Rose Pak, the San Francisco Chinese powerbroker, as an example. It noted that the CCP used Pak to have the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco marginalize Falun Gong, Tibetan, pro-Taiwanese, and Uyghur groups, preventing them from participating in the Chinese New Year parade.
The USCC report also exposed how Chinese Student and Scholar Associations (CSSA) are controlled by the CCP. On their own website, some CSSA branches directly state that they were established by the local Chinese consulate or are its subsidiaries, while in other cases, the control is carried out clandestinely. These organizations receive orders from the Chinese consulates, preventing any dissonant voices from being aired. Consulate officials harass, intimidate, and monitor students who dissent from the CCP line.
CSSAs and those affiliated with them sometimes even conduct industrial and economic espionage. In 2005, France’s Le Monde reported that the CSSA at the University of Leuven, Belgium, was the CCP’s front-line spy group in the country. Sometimes such networks consist of several hundred spies working in various companies in Europe.
Infiltrating and Influencing the Movie and Entertainment Industries
In recent years, the CCP has increased efforts at infiltrating the U.S. entertainment industry. In 2012, Wanda Group spent US$2.6 billion to acquire AMC, the second-largest theater chain in the United States. Since then, it has acquired Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion, and Carmike, the fourth-largest theater chain in the United States, for $1.1 billion. In 2016, Ali Pictures acquired a stake in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, and will place a representative on the Amblin Partners board of directors to participate in major decision-making there.
One of the CCP’s main goals in infiltrating the entertainment industry is to have the world follow the CCP’s script — painting a positive image of the CCP and China’s so-called peaceful rise to conceal the regime’s tyrannical ambitions. At the same time, this image covers up how the exportation of Party culture has corrupted the world. From 1997 to 2013, China invested in only twelve Hollywood films out of the top one hundred highest-grossing movies. But in the ensuing five years, China invested in forty-one of Hollywood’s most popular movies.
Hollywood covets China’s rapidly growing movie market, and executives are well- aware that they’ll be excluded from it if they fail to toe the Party line. Thus, they set about ensuring they are in compliance with Chinese censorship. American movie stars who’ve taken a stand on the CCP are blocked from entering the country, or their films are excluded from the Chinese market. Hollywood star Richard Gere’s clear expression of his position on Tibet, for instance, not only led to his being denied access to China, but also limited his own career even in the United States. In order not to offend or provoke the CCP, film producers have declined to invest in his films. Other movie stars have been blacklisted for other transgressions.
Intimidating Overseas Dissidents
The CCP has used intimidation and incentives to influence Western scholars, especially China experts who are critical of the CCP. This has led many to willingly self-censor. Intimidation includes refusal to issue visas, which has the greatest impact on young scholars. For the sake of professional development, many voluntarily avoid human rights, Tibet issues, and other sensitive topics that might attract the Party’s ire.
Perry Link, a professor of East Asian Studies, was put on the blacklist for his scholarship on the Tiananmen Square massacre, which put the communist regime in an unfavorable light. His treatment subsequently turned into a lesson for young scholars as to what not to do.
In October 2017, Benedict Rogers, deputy chairman of the British Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission and supporter of the Hong Kong Democratic Movement, went to Hong Kong for personal activities but was refused entry and repatriated at the Hong Kong airport.
The aforementioned report by the USCC also said that Chinese intelligence agents attempt to recruit ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs living abroad, to act as spies. Refusal may lead to persecution of their family in China. Uyghurs who have been threatened state that the purpose of such threats is not only to collect information about the Uyghur diaspora, but also to create discord and prevent them from effectively opposing the CCP.
From Chapter Eighteen
The Chinese Communist Party’s Global Ambitions