Prominent Media Outlet Hosted Communist Party Influence Group Member Who Praised China’s Foreign Activities

[Screenshot/YouTube/Semafor Events]

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Robert Schmad Contributor
Font Size:

Semafor, a news outlet popular among political staffers and policymakers, recently featured a speaker linked to Chinese influence operations to expound on the virtues of China’s foreign infrastructure investments.

Wang Huiyao, using the anglicized name Henry Wang, spoke via remote teleconference at Semafor’s 2024 World Economy Summit in April, using the opportunity to praise China’s Belt and Road Initiative, according to a video of the conference. Wang founded and currently leads the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), a think tank with ties to Chinese influence operations, according to multiple intelligence experts and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC).

Wang was described as an adviser to China’s United Front Work Department (UFWD) by Alex Joske of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in 2018. The UFWD is a “Chinese intelligence service” that undertakes “influence operations,” according to the USCC. The State Department, alongside foreign policy experts, have identified the UFWD as the Chinese Communist Party’s primary instrument for exerting influence in places outside of China.

Wang has also led several UFWD affiliates, such as the China Overseas Friendship Association and the Western Returned Scholars Association, according to the USCC. The Western Returned Scholars Association is involved in the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to recruit foreign scientists through its Thousand Talents Plan. (RELATED: Influential DC Media Outlet Teams Up With Think Tank Linked To Chinese Intelligence)

At the Semafor conference, in a segment called “Rising Global Middle Class,” Wang praised the impact of China’s Belt and Road initiative in constructing infrastructure in the “Global South,” touting its investment of “$1 trillion” and work in “3,000 projects across the Global South.”

The Belt and Road Initiative relies on safe passage through Xinjiang. [YouTube/Screenshot/SouthChinaMorningPost]

The Belt and Road Initiative [YouTube/Screenshot/SouthChinaMorningPost]

China’s Belt and Road initiative funds infrastructure projects in foreign countries that could aid the flow of Chinese commerce, but the program has faced criticism for potentially saddling nations receiving infrastructure funds with significant debt that China can leverage for political concessions, according to the Council on Foreign Relations

Some have described the arrangement as a “debt trap,” citing the relatively high interest rates charged on Chinese loans.

Wang pushed back against criticism of the initiative at Semafor’s conference, arguing that “China’s debt in African countries is probably much lower than people expected” and that, in the case of Sri Lanka, Chinese debt “is not really an issue according to the local government.”

“China is not the real problem,” he continued. “China has created a lot of benefits for those developing countries.”

Semafor previously partnered with CCG for its “China and Global Business” project that aimed to promote economic discussions between Chinese and U.S. leaders. Justin Smith, founder and CEO of Semafor, is also a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The “China and Global Business” China Advisory Board also includes individuals linked to the CCP and UFWD.

For example, Gao Yunlong, who was elected vice-chairperson of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a body linked to the CCP and UFWD, was on Semafor’s China and global advisory board.

Semafor and CCG did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact