In an exclusive report, Axios describes a specific influence operation which China carried out from 2011 to 2015. The operation involved a Chinese woman named Christine Fang who enrolled at a Bay Area college and then became involved in the campus chapter of Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA), a group which encourages Asian involvement in U.S. politics. Through the group, Fang was able to meet a number of politicians including Rep. Ro Khanna, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Mike Honda and others including two midwestern mayors with whom she had sexual relationships.
Fang’s closest alliance was with Rep. Eric Swalwell. When Fang met Swalwell, he was just a city councilmember but he quickly rose to the U.S. House where he became a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Fang “was a bundler” for Swalwell and other candidates, according to a Bay Area political operative with direct knowledge of her efforts. A current U.S. intelligence official confirmed her activity for Swalwell; a local elected official also said she brought in donors for other candidates. Bundlers persuade others to write checks for campaigns; they can bring in substantial sums of money as well as deepen the campaign’s engagement with target communities, making bundlers a valuable and thus potentially influential ally to a candidate…
Fang facilitated the potential assignment of interns into Swalwell’s offices, the political operative said. In at least one case, an intern recommended by Fang was placed into Swalwell’s D.C. office, this person said. A current U.S. intelligence official confirmed the intern placement.
Fortunately, the FBI caught on to what Fang was doing, including her close relationship with the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. In 2015, they warned Swalwell what was happening in what is known as a “defensive briefing.” Swalwell cut ties with Fang and she suddenly left the country and returned to China in 2015.
Axios points out this is similar to the recruitment of a chauffer in Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office by Chinese spies. In that case the chauffer was allegedly an unwitting dupe who didn’t realize what was happening and never really passed anything of significance to the spy. But the point is that China is trying this sort of thing all the time
Axios put together this video outlining Fang’s involvement in U.S. politics:
There’s another significant story this week about China’s efforts to influence U.S. politics. Recently a Chinese academic named Di Dongsheng who works at a university in Beijing gave a speech in which he discussed China’s trade war with the U.S. Here’s a translation of a portion of what he said:
“We know that the Trump administration is in a trade war with us, so why can’t we fix the Trump administration? Why did China and the US used to be able to settle all kinds of issues between 1992 and 2016?” Di asked, going on to answer the question himself.
“I’m going to throw out something maybe a little bit explosive here. It’s just because we have people at the top. We have our old friends who are at the top of America’s core inner circle of power and influence,” the top Chinese political scientist continued…
“During the US-China trade war, [Wall Street] tried to help, and I know that my friends on the US side told me that they tried to help, but they couldn’t do much. But now we’re seeing Biden was elected, the traditional elite, the political elite, the establishment, they’re very close to Wall Street, so you see that, right?” Di asked the audience, noting that the next administration would likely take a very different stance from that of President Trump.
Last night Tucker Carlson did an entire segment of his show on Di Dongsheng’s speech and that segment was then tweeted out by President Trump. So at this point it has received a lot of attention. Here’s Carlson’s coverage of the story: