As tensions between the United States and China simmer, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will stop at nothing to gain an advantage over America. From cyberattacks to espionage, the CCP furthers its agenda through non-conventional warfare, and it is high time that the United States government fought back, and not just on the military front. U.S. legislators must focus on three key strategies: follow the money, follow the honey trap, and support dissidents to win Chinese hearts and minds.
Following the money is crucial in identifying individuals who may be financially compromised by the CCP. These individuals may be, and often are, embedded within the U.S. government and justice system, making it easier for the CCP to gain access to sensitive information.
By tracking financial transactions and identifying potential conflicts of interest, legislators can root out these compromised individuals and take steps to prevent further damage. Identifying such individuals is a complex task that requires a deep understanding of the various financial instruments and channels the CCP uses to exert its influence. One such channel is through Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which have close ties to the CCP. These SOEs are involved in a variety of sectors, including finance, energy, and telecommunications, and often engage in joint ventures with U.S. companies. By tracing the financial transactions of these SOEs and their U.S. counterparts, legislators can identify potential conflicts of interest and financial impropriety.
In the realm of academia, the CCP gained a foothold with U.S. institutions through significant investment in American universities and think thanks and the establishment of Confucius Institutes — Chinese government-funded language and cultural centers. In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile cases of Chinese nationals, including students and researchers, being arrested or charged with espionage-related offenses. American corporate enterprises are targeted too. Several Apple employees were charged with stealing trade secrets related to the company’s self-driving car project. Chinese agents had approached the employees, promising them financial incentives in exchange for sensitive information.
This case highlights the Chinese government’s determination to acquire American technology and intellectual property, even through illegal or unethical means. Similarly, Tesla has also been targeted by Chinese agents for espionage purposes. In 2019, a Chinese engineer working for the company was arrested and charged with stealing proprietary information related to Tesla’s autopilot technology. Chinese agents had recruited the engineer with a lucrative job offer and hefty signing bonus in exchange for the stolen information.The impact of this infiltration can be devastating, resulting in lost revenue, diminished competitiveness, and weakened national security.
Another channel is the money transferred to U.S. law firms’ trust accounts, as revealed in the 1MBD scheme reported by the WSJ. Due to the U.S. client confidentiality rules, these accounts are barely regulated, making it an ideal place to hide illegal transactions. By establishing operations in Communist China, U.S. law firms risk undue influence from the CCP, which controls their ability to do business in China and Hong Kong and have attempted to influence cases in the CCP’s favor. Legislators can review the financial disclosures of individuals within the U.S. government and justice system to identify any unusual patterns or connections that may indicate financial compromise.
Then there is campaign finance. The CCP has used its vast financial resources to support friendly candidates and politicians since at least 1996. By reviewing campaign finance records, lawmakers can identify individuals who may have received contributions from the CCP or its proxies. It’s important to note that identifying financial compromise is only the first step. Once a compromised individual is identified, lawmakers must take swift action to prevent further damage, including removing the individual from a position or subjecting him to increased scrutiny and oversight.
Monitoring the honey trap is equally important – albeit more difficult. The CCP has a history of using sexual blackmail and threats to compromise individuals going back decades, particularly those in positions of power. By identifying and protecting vulnerable individuals, lawmakers can prevent the CCP from gaining leverage over them to further its own interests.
Identifying individuals compromised through sexual blackmail or threats is a delicate and sensitive process that must be handled with care. A U.S. State Department report on China’s Coercive Activities Abroad makes the point that “the CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD) is responsible for coordinating domestic and foreign influence operations, through propaganda and manipulation of susceptible audiences and individuals. [This includes the use of sexual favors.] The CCP’s United Front permeates every aspect of its extensive engagements with the international community. It targets the highest levels of Western democracies, creates a permanent class of China lobbyists whose primary job is to sell access to high level Chinese leaders to corporate America. The United Front has also penetrated deeply into state, local and municipal governments through a myriad of front organizations such as the CCP’s sister-cities programs, trade commissions, and friendship associations.”
Finally, legislators must recognize and work with dissident groups. U.S. lawmakers can gain an invaluable strategic advantage over the CCP’s insidious tactics and operations due to these dissidents’ deep knowledge of the CCP’s inner workings and various operations, including propaganda, cyberattacks, and espionage. Additionally, the U.S. can demonstrate its commitment to human rights and democratic values and counter the CCP’s propaganda and rhetoric to win the hearts and minds of the Chinese people.
U.S. lawmakers must take the real CCP threat seriously. By following these three steps, legislators can start to properly grapple with the CCP’s unconventional warfare tactics that have left American politicians completely stumped.
Bio: Mike Crispi is an experienced television reporter, talk show host, and Northeast political operative. He currently hosts one of the most popular daily conservative podcasts in the nation, “Mike Crispi Unafraid.”
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.