Dem Reps Who Rubbed Shoulders With Alleged Chinese Intel Front Groups Rip Crackdown On Beijing’s Espionage


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Philip Lenczycki Investigative Reporter
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Two House Democratic lawmakers with a documented history of rubbing elbows with organizations tied to Chinese influence and intelligence operations voiced their opposition Monday to legislation that would revive a federal program countering Chinese Communist Party (CCP) espionage.

New York Rep. Grace Meng and California Rep. Judy Chu were among 15 House Democrats who signed onto a letter opposing provisions in an appropriations bill to revive the Department of Justice’s China Initiative. Both Meng and Chu, however, have long-standing relationships with organizations tied to the CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD). The House Select Committee on the CCP and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission have labeled the UFWD as a Chinese influence and intelligence operation. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Republican Rep Urges Biden Admin To Review Chinese Communist Party Member’s US Land Purchase)

“A budget is a representation of our priorities and values,” the Democratic lawmakers’ letter states. “It would be both a misallocation of resources and a backsliding for civil rights to restart the China Initiative.”

“Republicans are essentially pushing the Chinese Exclusion Act 2.0,” Meng said in a separate statement.

Congresswoman Chu, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), said that CAPAC had played a role in ending the China Initiative.

“In fact, the China Initiative was such a failure at collecting evidence of economic espionage that the DOJ was forced to switch its investigations from trade secret thefts to grant application mistakes,” Chu said in a related statement. “That is why CAPAC successfully pushed the DOJ under President Biden to eliminate the initiative and why we led a letter to Congressional leadership today to avoid resuscitating a program based on xenophobia, not evidence.”

Launched in 2018, the China Initiative targeted “those engaged in trade secret theft, hacking, and economic espionage” and “covert efforts to influence the American public and policymakers,” according to the DOJ. The Biden administration ended the China Initiative in February 2022 after Asian-American groups claimed it “fueled a narrative of intolerance and bias,” according to Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen.

In their letter, Democratic lawmakers said “prosecutors pursued criminal charges” in all China Initiative cases, “rather than utilizing civil penalties or administrative remedies,” and they also said the DOJ “never made publicly available data on these cases.”

The DOJ website, however, lists multiple examples of successful China Initiative cases, which range from the theft of trade secrets to “conspiring to communicate, deliver and transmit national defense information” to China.

The DCNF has reported extensively on Meng and Chu’s repeated interactions with organizations tied to CCP influence and intelligence operations.

Chinese-language news reports show that Meng has attended multiple events with the New York nonprofit, America Changle Association, whose former chairman, Lu Jianwang, was arrested in April 2023 for allegedly opening and operating an illegal overseas Chinese police station from within his nonprofit.

In one instance, Meng attended the September 2016 ribbon-cutting ceremony for America Changle’s Manhattan headquarters, the DCNF reportedciting a report from Chinese state-run news outlet’s social media account.

Chinese media reports featured pictures of Lu Jianwang attending an April 2022 fundraiser for Meng, the DCNF revealed.

Lu Jianwang has multiple connections to the CCP’s United Front, such as attending a provincial meeting for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in January 2022, which is “where all the relevant united front actors inside and outside the party come together,” according to a DOJ affidavit.

A November 2023 House Select Committee on the CCP report on the United Front identified America Changle as a civic group that had been “co-opted” by the “CCP’s unite front organizations” to aid in “carrying out repressive activities abroad.”

The CCP’s “United Front work” damages U.S. interests “through legal and illegal technology transfer, surveillance of Chinese diaspora communities, promotion of favorable narratives about the PRC through ostensibly independent voices and the neutralization or harassment of critics of the CCP,” according to the House Select Committee on the CCP.

[Image created by the Daily Caller News Foundation with pictures from US China Press and]

[Image created by the Daily Caller News Foundation with pictures from US China Press and]

The DCNF also previously found that Chu had been listed a member of three nonprofits with ties to China’s united front system.

Chu accepted honorary positions at the All America Chinese Youth Federation in 2012, the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China in 2019, and had begun serving as “co-chair” of the International Federation of Chamber of Commerce in 2014, according to Chinese-language news reports and records from the organizations. Among other connections, the DCNF discovered multiple photographs showing Chu accepting certificates of appointment from the aforementioned organizations during various private events.

These organizations, or their leaders, belong to various CCP United Front groups, the DCNF found.

The All America Chinese Youth Federation’s leadership has included several individuals who also belonged to the China Overseas Friendship Association, which the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission identified as part of the UFWD. Likewise, the DCNF identified International Federation of Chamber of Commerce officials who belonged to the China Overseas Friendship Association and related organizations.

Several experts told the DCNF that the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China was one of 33 anti-Taiwan independence organizations in the U.S. which serve as subchapters of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission labeled the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification as “directly subordinate” to the UFWD.

Chu subsequently denied she was affiliated with the All America Chinese Youth Federation and the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China, and even dismissed photographic evidence showing her accepting certificates of appointment. Chu, however, never denied her relationship with the International Federation of Chamber of Commerce.

In January 2023, Meng and Chu were also among the 65 lawmakers to vote against the successful formation of the House Select Committee on CCP.

“Unfortunately, we are concerned about the direction of this committee given past statements and actions by Republicans,” a joint statement signed by 23 Democratic lawmakers read. “America can and must work towards our economic and strategic competitiveness goals without ‘a new Cold War’ and without the repression, discrimination, hate, fear, degeneration of our political institutions and violations of civil rights that such a ‘Cold War’ may entail.”

Meng and Chu did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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