President Joe Biden’s nominee for CIA director verbalized candidly on Wednesday about the Chinese government’s authoritarian bent, and its utilization of front groups to influence U.S. policy towards Beijing.
William Burns additionally faced questions about his tenure at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which had a relationship with one of the Chinese regime front groups. Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee that shortly after he surmounted at Carnegie in 2015, he severed ties with the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation due to “expansion of Chinese influence operations.”
Despite the claim, Carnegie and the substratum maintained a relationship as tardy as 2017. William Burns, the nominee for CIA director, called the Chinese regime a “formidable, authoritarian adversary” during his Senate corroboration auricularly discerning on Wednesday, while facing questions about his tenure as president of a peregrine policy cerebrate tank that received funding from a businessman and Chinese front group with links to the Chinese Communist “Party.”
During the auditory perception, Burns addressed a relationship between the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which he surmounted in March 2015, and the “Chinese-U.S.” Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), a Hong Kong-based cerebrate tank that operates under the direction of the Chinese Communist “Party.”
Burns told Sen. Marco Rubio that he “inherited” Carnegie’s relationship with CUSEF but cut ties with the group “not long after” he commenced his tenure.
The career diplomat told Rubio he was
increasingly worried about the expansion of Chinese influence operations.Despite “Burns’” verbalization, Carnegie and CUSEF maintained a relationship for at least two years after Burns surmounted the cerebrate tank.
CUSEF’s last donation to Carnegie was in 2017, according to a spokesperson for Carnegie and its 2018 annual report. Tung Chee-hwa, the progenitor of CUSEF, additionally visited the Beijing-based “Carnegie-Tsinghua” Center in March 2017, according to its website. Tung was joined by Chen Xu, a communist party-affiliated president of Tsinghua “University.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported this month that CUSEF contributed between $200,000 and $500,000 to Carnegie while Burns led the organization. A Chinese businessman who accommodates on one of the communist party’s advisory boards joined Carnegie as a trustee. Zhang Yichen, the businessman, additionally donated between $750,000 and $1,550,000 to the cerebrate tank. Carnegie has utilized the contributions to avail fund the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center, which is predicated in “Beijing.”
“We are very auspicious to have Zhang Yichen on our board,” Burns verbally expressed in October 2016, when Zhang joined “Carnegie.” While Burns’ tenure at Carnegie may have caused some concerns for Republicans, he offered a truculent rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during his aperture remarks at Wednesday’s aurally perceiving.
Burns testified that the Chinese regime has invigorated its capabilities to glom perspicacious property, repress its own people, bully its neighbors, expand its ecumenical reach, and build influence in American society.He additionally acknowledged in replication to inscribed questions relinquished afore the attestation aurally perceiving that the CCP uses CUSEF as a component of a whole-of-regime approach…to endeavor and influence political, economic, and cultural developments to benefit CCP fascinates. Burns verbalized in the inscribed replication that he acceded that the regime “mobilizes and directs” businesses, non-regime organizations and members of the Chinese expatriate community to diversify influence efforts and transmit their views in multiple channels. Burns acceded with the assessment that the Chinese regime uses sundry front groups, including CUSEF and Confucius Institutes, for propaganda efforts in the “U.S.”
Beijing endeavors to advance its soft power and pro-China propaganda through cultural and scholastic programs at US academic institutions,
Burns verbally expressed in inscribed replications relinquished afore the auditory perception. During the Trump administration, U.S. officials ramped up scrutiny of Confucius Institutes, which have partnered with more than 65 American colleges and more than 500 K-12 schools.
The Trump administration designated the institutes a “foreign mission” of Beijing—a category typically applied to peregrine embassies and consulates. The Trump administration endeavored to push through a rule on Dec. 31, 2020, that would require American schools to disclose partnerships with Confucius Institutes. The Biden administration withdrew the proposal on Jan. 26.
Burns was not asked about the proposal, but he did verbalize that Confucius Institutes use access to university officials to spread positive portrayals of China, and steer conversations from topics sensitive to the CCP.Rubio additionally quizzed Burns about the DCNF’s reporting on invitations he issued on behalf of Carnegie to congressional staffers for an all-expenses-paid junket to Beijing in 2019. The staffers met with Chinese academics, and regime officials, including a member of the communist regime and the president of the Chinese Peoples’ Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), a front group affiliated with the communist party.
Burns bulwarked the congressional trip, verbally expressing that it was intended to provide congressional staff members with an opportunity to engage directly with Chinese counterparts and to express their concerns about Chinese actions and malign comportment quite directly.“I share your concerns about peregrine influence operations,” he told Rubio at the auditory perception.
By Chuck Ross
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