While giving a speech on Saturday to the National Governors association, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke of the Chinese governments will to blunt the U.S. government. His advice was to employ a “cautious mindset” when doing business with China or its corporations and investors.
He began by telling a story about an invite he received last year to an event that promised to be an “occasion for exclusive deal making…the opportunities for mutual beneficial economic development between China and our individual states are tremendous.” He joked the Deal making” could have been interpreted as the invite coming from President Trump. A joke that made me chuckle because it seemed as if the Chinese government was using known Trump words to encourage invitees. However, the invite was from a “former governor” who sent out the invites for the U.S./China Governors Collaboration Summit. The event was cohosted by the National Governors Association and an entity called the Chinese Peoples Association for Friendship and Foreign Countries.
The CPAFFC is actually a front organization of the China Communist party’s official foreign influence agency, the United Front Work Department. As a former member of the CIA, Pompeo was aware of the front company. But, how many governors were aware of the front companies ties to the Communist party of China? How many members of the Governors Association made new relationships with members of the front company, and established connections to their own associates and business partners? How attractive would it be to have major Chinese investments in a governors state?
As Pompeo said, “these are not hypotheticals”. In 2019 a Chinese government think tank released a report that assessed the attitude of 50 American governors towards China. The governors were each labeled as friendly, hardline, or ambiguous. As Pompeo eloquently pointed out “competition with China is not just a federal issue.”
The consequences of such competition and meddling in American domestic affairs reaches into into our foreign policy, citizens of states that do business with China, as well as having consequences for governors that do business with China. In the grand scheme of things, governors don’t only have to be concerned with themselves. They also need to be concerned with those they work with and those that work for them including staff.
To my knowledge, President Nixon opened the door to a working relationship with China in the hopes of making China a democracy instead of a communist country. Since then, China has engaged in and infiltrated our real estate markets, stock market including U.S. pension funds, compromising former intelligence workers to steal and sell national security secrets, hacking our major institutions, and theft of intellectual property. Not to mention the building up of its military and illegal islands in the South China sea in order to control the maritime area.
China has patiently assessed our systems and their vulnerabilities. All in attempt not to create a fair working relationship with the U.S. government, to the contrary, to exploit these vulnerabilities to gain advantages on a federal and state level in the United States. I truly believe Pompeo when he told the governors that most of them probably have been lobbied by the Chinese government. I take the context of his words to mean that most of the governors were unaware that they were being lobbied by agents of the Chinese communist government, and not harmless Chinese companies only interested in investing in a partnership.
While Pompeo read an excerpt from a letter received by a U.S. official, from China’s Consul General in New York, I found it interesting that China said “Taiwan is a part of China. 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 from Taiwan to visit the United States.”
Here we have a Communist party official located in New York warning an American official to not exercise their freedom of expression and speech. Apparently Chinese consulates in Illinois, Texas, and two in California have also engaged in threatening the freedom of speech for U.S. officials, although such practices are prohibited from being politically active under the rules of the Vienna Convention. These practices include paying students from U.C. San Diego protest the Dalai Lama, In Houston, former governor Mississippi Phil Bryant received a letter from the Chinese consulate warning him that China would pull their investment if he traveled to Taiwan. In 2019 a Chicago high school fell to the pressure of the Chinese government and canceled the appearance of a Taiwanese diplomat who was supposed to speak as a member of climate panel.
State officials are not the only ones that should be concerned with doing business with China. The Communist government is also grooming relationships with county school board members and even local politicians through Sister City programs.
For more information on the threat from China, I encourage you to read my previous articles Four Members of the Peoples Liberation Army of China Indicted for the 2017 Equifax Hack and How American Investors Unwittingly Support Communist China