Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz are investors in 12 companies in the People’s Republic of China, including a firm that operates in the most repressed part of Tibet, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
The investments are from a Heinz family trust called “HFI Imperial,” according to Kerry’s official financial disclosure report, which was reviewed by TheDCNF.
The fund invests exclusively in Asian-based companies throughout the Pacific Rim — from Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand to the People’s Republic of China.
“Secretary Kerry is not a beneficiary of these trusts, and Mrs. Heinz Kerry also exercises no control over the investment decisions made by the independent trustees,” State Department official spokesman Admiral John Kirby told TheDCNF.
However, the State Department declined to describe the nature of the trusts or identify the individuals making the investments.
By far, the most controversial Kerry-Heinz investment is in Tibet 5100 Water Resources, Ltd, a Chinese-owned and operated company that sells a “luxury” brand of bottled drinking water in Europe as a rival to Evian and Perrier.
Word of the Kerry-Heinz investment prompted calls for the couple to immediately end their investment in Tibet 5100 Water, which was rebranded by company officials last December as “Tibet Water.”
“We urge Secretary Kerry to ensure that this investment comes to an end immediately. It is unfortunate now that through this fund, Secretary Kerry’s family — knowingly or not — is supporting a Chinese business, which is exploiting a Tibetan resource and doing harm to its environment,” Alistair Currie, a spokesman for the Tibetan advocacy group Free Tibet, told TheDCNF.
A government official working on China policy told TheDCNF that “as a government official, that’s an asset that should be immediately divested.” He requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of his work.
“This shows what they are willing to invest in to enhance their family’s wealth and that sends a message in terms of public policy,” said the official. “If you’re to invest in tobacco stocks, when you invest in what various human rights group indicate are antithetical to the interests of indigenous people like the Tibetans, those raise questions about the moral quality of the investments that are being made. It’s appropriate for the public to be asking questions.”
Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, told TheDCNF that harvesting Tibet’s water by Chinese firms is clear exploitation of the Tibetan people.
“The control of the bottled water industry in Tibet by Chinese businesses, without the involvement and consultation of the Tibetan people, is another dangerous example of the exploitation by Beijing and of the lack of any kind of meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people under Chinese rule,” Mecacci said.
Tibet 5100 Water is headquartered in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), a closed section of China that was the center of a 2008 Tibetan uprising. Chinese authorities have harshly repressed the Tibetan populace in the years since that uprising.
The State Department has repeatedly reported serious Chinese human rights abuses in Tibet, most recently in the department’s latest human rights report: “The government’s respect for, and protection of, human rights in the TAR and other Tibetan areas remained poor.”
Tibet Water is unusually close to the Chinese government and to its powerful communist party. During the 2008 uprising and the Chinese repression that followed, Tibet Water was chosen as the “official drinking water” of the 11th National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Tibet Water was also selected as the “official drinking water” of the 17th and 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. The 18th Congress was held in 2012 and elevated Xi Jinping as China’s current president.
The wholesale diversion of water from Tibetan glaciers has also alarmed environmentalists. Tibet’s Himalayan mountain region reportedly has 37,000 glaciers and is considered “Asia’s freshwater bank account.”
Tibet Water’s diversion could cause environmental problems as water is siphoned off for luxury products, according to the site Meltdown in Tibet. “The water collected would otherwise flow through wetlands where yaks and sheep graze. It is not known how the factory’s siphoning of water has impacted the ecosystem,” according to the site.
National security experts also believe investment in a state-owned company by a family member of a sitting secretary of state carries many problems.
“Is the investment worth the risk,” asked Col. James Waurishuk (ret.), who served on the staff of the White House National Security Council and as a senior psychological operations officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“Is there a potential where you might jeopardize national security policy because you’re the Secretary of State? When you get that close where his wife is an investor and he’s the Secretary of State, it’s a real concern,” Waurishuk told TheDCNF.
Heinz investments also include the Indonesian tobacco company PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna Tbk, which manufactures hand-rolled and machine-rolled clove-blended cigarettes. The company distributes its products in the domestic and international market.
Another tobacco holding by the Heinz trust is Huabao International Holdings Ltd, a Chinese company that supplies flavors and fragrances for tobacco.
Boer Power Holdings, a large electricity distribution company based in Wuxi and Shanghai, is in the Kerry-Heinz portfolio, as is China Mobile Communications Corporation, China’s largest state-owned mobile telecommunications company by market capitalization.
Both companies are considered “critical infrastructure” that touch on Chinese national security.
“Because it is critical infrastructure, one would assume it’s an entity overseen by the state. Any investment here is a cause of concern,” the anonymous government official told TheDCNF.
[dcquiz] Heinz also invested in Haier Electronics Corporation, one of China’s top-selling makers of home appliances. The Qingdao, a China-based company, announced earlier this year that it was trying to buy General Electric’s appliance division. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that the Obama administration approved the acquisition.
At least six of the Asian companies in the Imperial portfolio are also registered in the Cayman Islands or in Bermuda, well-known offshore tax havens.
TheDCNF previous reported that there were at least 11 other firms in the Heinz portfolio that were incorporated in offshore tax havens.
Both Tibet 5100 Water and Boer Power are incorporated in the Caymans.
The other Asian companies with offshore registration are:
- Want Want China Holdings, Ltd a rice cakes and flavored milk company. Registration: Cayman Islands
- Dairy Farms International Ltd., food and personal hygiene products. Registration: Bermuda
- Gingko International Co. Ltd. contact lenses. Registration: Cayman Islands
- Tencent Holdings Ltd e-commerce. Registration: Cayman Islands
- Heinz also invested in food companies: Changshouhua Food Company, which manufactures corn oil; Labixiaoxin Snacks Group; Multi Bintang, an Indonesian beer company.
- SoFun Holdings, a real estate and home furnishings company
The annual capital gains for the Imperial fund is $50,000.
“$50,000 may not be a lot to the Kerry-Heinz family. But it exceeds the medium income of the average American,” the government official observed.
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