The World Economic Forum (WEF), whose annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, kicked off Monday, partners with multiple Chinese state-owned companies and several Chinese tech firms the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has allegedly weaponized against civilians, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
WEF, a non-governmental organization located in Geneva, Switzerland, partners with Alibaba Group, Huawei Technologies and TikTok, according to the group’s list of partnerships, all of whom are allegedly tied to the development of various technologies the Chinese government uses for intelligence or military and intelligence purposes. WEF’s board of trustees also features an individual who’s worked with Chinese organizations allegedly involved in Chinese influence operations, the DCNF found. (RELATED: FBI Raided Overseas Chinese Government Police Station In New York, Seized Materials: REPORT)
WEF’s partner Alibaba, an e-commerce and media firm, reportedly holds a significant financial stake in Megvii and SenseTime, two Chinese tech firms which the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security blacklisted in 2019 for allegedly developing racial profiling facial recognition technologies that the Chinese government has used in relation to China’s ongoing genocide to track ethnic minorities in China’s western province of Xinjiang, according to an ESPN report from April 2022.
The U.S. government’s designation of Megvii and SenseTime states that the two tech companies “pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”
Similarly, the U.S. government added WEF’s partner Huawei, a Chinese communications tech firm, to its Entity List in 2019 on national security grounds. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned the import and sales of Huawei equipment in November 2022, stating that the technologies posed an “unacceptable” national security risk related to surveillance.
More recently, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio joined with Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher and Illinois Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi in December 2022 to introduce legislation to ban WEF’s partner, TikTok, stating that the social media firm’s parent company, ByteDance, is “required by Chinese law to make the app’s data available” to the CCP. The proposed bipartisan legislation warns that the Chinese social media giant may be used by the Chinese government to access U.S. data, spread propaganda and surveil Americans.
WEF also partners with multiple Chinese state-owned enterprises such as Bank of China, China Construction Bank, China Petrochemical Corporation, CITIC and the State Grid Corporation of China, according to WEF’s website.
Despite these partnerships, WEF styles itself as an “international organization for public-private cooperation” which places “moral and intellectual integrity” at the “heart of everything it does,” according to its website.
WEF board member Zhu Min has also worked with multiple organizations allegedly involved in Chinese influence operations, the DCNF found, including having served as an academic advisory committee member for the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), a Chinese think tank.
CCG is headed by Wang Huiyao, who allegedly leads several front groups serving the CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), according to the U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission (USCC), which was created by Congress in 2000. The UFWD is a “Chinese intelligence service” whose “primary missions” include “liaison with foreign political parties,” “influence operations” and “intelligence collection,” according to USCC.
CCG was established by the Western Returned Scholars Association (WRSA) in conjunction with the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, according to an archived version of CCG’s website. USCC identified WRSA as a UFWD front group in 2018, the same year that the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council merged with the UFWD, according to a Chinese government notice.
Zhu is also vice chairman of the China Institute for Innovation & Development Strategy (CIIDS), a Chinese think tank founded by Zheng Bijian, according to its website. Yet, CIIDS’ founder Zheng is also allegedly an undercover asset serving the CCP’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), Chinese intelligence analyst Alex Joske told the DCNF in November 2022.
Zhu has also contributed to China-US Focus, the DCNF discovered. China-US Focus is a website published by the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), which USCC identified as being involved in influence operations related to the UFWD in 2018.
WEF, Alibaba, Huawei, TikTok and Zhu did not respond immediately to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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