BEN WEINGARTEN , FELLOW, CLAREMONT INSTITUTE
1er mars 2021. NEWSWEEK.
– The associations between members of the Joe Biden administration and Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-linked individuals and entities are incredibly disturbing.
Personnel is policy. By dint of such ties, and past dutiful service to administrations that pursued the very policies of engagement and accommodation that enabled Communist China’s rise, we can surmise that the president, and the architects of his agenda, will likely be uniquely soft on China.
That the fledgling Biden presidency has, by political necessity, sought to create a veneer of toughness toward China with rhetoric—while from its earliest days, literally and figuratively bending over for it with a battery of weak policies—would seem to reinforce this view.
But as disturbing as the backgrounds are of those Biden staffers who will be developing and executing this likely uniquely detrimental policy, what is perhaps even more disturbing is just how common such backgrounds are among those who would be tapped for such positions.NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS >
Any president from the bipartisan political establishment, though increasingly based on the Democratic side, would likely be selecting nominees for senior roles touching on China from a pool of candidates at best two degrees separated from the CCP—and more than likely positively predisposed to ever-greater interaction and integration with it. China exploits this.
This is because those seeking high-level positions in government, particularly in the realm of national security and foreign policy, typically hail from a Ruling Class that is largely captured by China. That our elites are so inextricably intertwined with, and therefore deeply influenced by Beijing, is one of the many reasons the China challengeto America today far exceeds that posed by the Soviet Union decades ago.
A cursory review of some of the Biden administration officials’ China ties illustrates the nature and magnitude of the problem.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken co-founded a consultancy, WestExec Advisors, that among other things helped corporations and academic institutions pursue their interests in China. His administration colleagues, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, were on WestExec’s payroll.NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS >
Secretary Blinken was also managing director of the Penn Biden Center, backed by the University of Pennsylvania, which allegedly saw a major uptick in anonymous Chinese funding to the tune of tens of millions of dollars following the Center’s opening—funds that may have flowed to it.
Central Intelligence Agency Director-designate William Burns ran the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which was reportedly underwritten in part with up to $2 million from CCP-tied businessmen and think tanks.
United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who spoke favorably of China during a paid speech at Savannah State University delivered to one of the CCP’s Trojan Horse Confucius Institutes, was a senior vice president at former Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s Albright Stonebridge Group. The « global strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm » touts its China practice as the firm’s « largest single country » group. Several of its members, including its head, have worked for the Chinese government.
« Asia Czar » Kurt Campbell was board vice chairman of a Confucius Institute-tied « student language exchange » organization, the U.S.-China Strong Foundation, which has also been further linked to the CCP. He has vowed to recuse himself from certain matters due to the Asia-related work of the consultancy he founded subsequent to his time in the Obama administration.
Other secondary and tertiary ties abound among officials, such as: National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; senior advisor on China on the State Department’s Policy Planning staff Mira Rapp-Hooper; undersecretary of defense policy-designate Colin Kahl, who also served as a strategic consultant at the Penn Biden Center; and contenders for critical positions, such as would-be NASA Administrator and former Florida Senator Bill Nelson, and would-be UN Ambassador to China and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
This is to say nothing of the links between the family members of such officials and the CCP and/or its affiliates and friends. On this point, President Biden himself, at the absolute minimum, faces the appearance of a major conflict of interest in the way of his closest relatives’ financial dealings with CCP-linked individuals and entities—to say nothing of his own alleged stake.
The foregoing demonstrates that the CCP touches major centers of power and influence in America: The corporate world, the academy and the related worlds of public policy and « thought leadership. » These are all feeders to government.
The CCP touches these individuals and institutions through developing direct relationships, lavishing money on them and leveraging dupes, useful idiots and witting assets of the CCP.
If you operate in the rarefied air of the corporate boardrooms of major multinational corporations, the sumptuous offices of prominent think tanks or posh Ivy League faculty lounges—as the credentialed elites tabbed for top government positions do—you are likely to be exposed to Communist China’s influence.
Even if such individuals are of unimpeachable character, unquestionably patriotic and prudent, it is reasonable to assume they will interact with Chinese officials, de facto officials, active agents of influence, unknowing agents of influence and furthermore feel the impact of the CCP line pervading the institutions in which they work, given said institutions’ donors. This cannot help but impact their thinking, and ultimately the policies they support.
And of course, our Ruling Class, of its own volition, has for decades been oriented toward cheering China’s rise—rooted in parts perceived economic self-interest, mirror-imaging, naïveté, cowardice or, worst of all, active complicity. This creates a groupthink atmosphere and social pressure to conform to the « Official View of China » that itself must influence Ruling Class elites.
China envy also seems to prevail among some in our Ruling Class, who share an affinity for purging society of dissenters from their rule. Among others, there would seem to be a belief in the inevitability of China’s rise, and therefore the need to kowtow to the future dominant power.
Influence is the coin of the CCP’s realm. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union also sought to penetrate, compromise and leverage American institutions. But America never embraced commercial relations with the Soviet Union to a similar extent, nor did America welcome widespread collaboration by and large across our commanding heights.
We have helped create our most formidable adversary. In the process, our Ruling Class has been corrupted by it. Absent a new elite, it is unclear how this ends well for the ruled.
Ben Weingarten is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, fellow at the Claremont Institute and senior contributor to The Federalist. He is the author of American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party (Bombardier, 2020). Ben is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and production company. Subscribe to his newsletter at bit.ly/bhwnews, and follow him on Twitter: @bhweingarten.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.