NEW YORK—As residents in New York gear up for the local elections, an unseen force may be hard at work.
City comptroller candidate John Liu has a friendly relationship with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organizations and former Canadian diplomat Brian McAdam says New Yorkers should be concerned.
“Wherever there is a Chinese community, the CCP is going to try and infiltrate, if they haven't done so already,” McAdam said.
City Councilman John Liu is vying for the New York City comptroller job, with the primary elections on Sept. 15.
He will face David Weprin, Melinda Katz, and David Yassky in a bid to be the Democratic candidate for the main race for comptroller—the caretaker of the city's more than $60 million budget.
'Face' of the United Front
Politicians like John Liu are “the face” of the CCP's United Front work in their cities, according to a member of the NYPD with a history of work in Chinese communities. He spoke about the issue on a separate occasion under condition of anonymity.
The United Front is a strategy that uses overseas Chinese to infiltrate foreign politics and establish community associations, business groups, and media that promote the interests of the CCP around the world. These groups plant or transform political and community leaders who act as agents of influence for the regime.
The umbrella organization, the United Front Work Department, sits under the CCP Central Committee and is part of an intelligence operation that harks back to 1935. Three pillars make up the United Front efforts under each consulate abroad: Chinese community associations, student associations, and media and propaganda.
John Liu met with Xu Yousheng, a top director of the United Front operation, officially called Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, during a sponsored trip to China in 2007.
The Overseas Chinese Affairs Office acts as a medium between the United Front Work Department and the CCP’s foreign embassies and consulates. When needed, the consulates and embassies will relay orders to CCP-controlled Chinese associations, student groups, business groups, and media.
During the trip Liu was also given the highly publicized “The World is More Beautiful Because of You” award.
Chinese Associations and Consulates
Many Chinese associations are fronts for gang and mafia organizations, said the NYPD source. Aside from the corrupt power structure, they can engage in illegal gambling; counterfeit bags, DVDs, and CDs; human trafficking; extortion; and prostitution.
The Fukien American Association, one of the most prominent Chinese associations, is affiliated with the Fuk Ching gang, according to a document published by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) International Center, United Nation Activities.
The Fukien American Association held a dinner in Manhattan's Chinatown in June this year. Sitting on either side of the Association’s chairman were Peng Keyu, the Chinese consul general, and comptroller candidate John Liu. The Fukien American Association is known to have strong ties to New York's Chinese Consulate.
Leaders of the Chinese associations are sent to China periodically to attend camps that train them in things like interpersonal relationships, personnel management, and foreign affairs policies. Regional governments can spend tens of thousands of dollars providing these training camps free of charge to participants, according to a research report by the nonprofit World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, which draws heavily from original CCP Internet sources.
The Regime's Long-Term Goals
He Qinglian, an economist and author who writes on China's media control, said the United Front was one of the CCP’s so-called three magic weapons during the civil war.
“Now, it means unite overseas Chinese, so that these overseas Chinese will support the communist government—not the dissidents—[but] that everyone will work for the CCP’s interest,” Ms. He said, adding that the long-term goal is very simple.
“The Chinese congressmen in the U.S., once they accept CCP’s propaganda, they will influence Americans and American associations in all kinds of occasions, and they will make pro-China policies,” she said. “These are not short-term goals; they are achieved indirectly. Gradually, these pro-communist politicians will be able to have an impact [in U.S. society].”
McAdam agrees, saying cooperation with the CCP front organizations is very beneficial for overseas Chinese.
“If you’re not cooperative you can’t really advance far in these Chinese communities now,” said McAdam.
He worked as a Canadian diplomat in Hong Kong from 1989 to 1993 and was instrumental in uncovering triad operations.
He said the CCP has high hopes for its efforts abroad.
“My estimation is absolutely they’re a threat to the rest of the world, they’re covertly doing what they need to to accomplish their goals, which is to be the most powerful nation on earth,” said McAdam.
There were roughly 10,000 overseas Chinese organizations around the world in 2005, according to the Yunan Returned Overseas Chinese Federation Web site. Not all Chinese associations are influenced by the CCP.
Overseas Chinese Used as Propaganda Bases
The Chinese government puts a high value on propaganda work, describing it as the lifeblood of the Party-State in the current era, according to Anne-Marie Brady, a New Zealand academic whose research focuses on China’s propaganda system. Brady spoke at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in April this year.
“Gaining influence over overseas Chinese groups outside China in order to turn them into propaganda bases for China is a key task in foreign propaganda work,” Brady said.
She said the goal is to neutralize antagonism toward the CCP government, enhance antagonism toward anti-CCP forces within China and their adherents in exile, and at the same time, encourage a constructive attitude toward overseas Chinese helping to make China “rich and strong.”
“These efforts have been remarkably successful,” said Brady.
The Office for Foreign Propaganda/State Council Information Office (OFP/SCIO) is tasked with managing any sensitive news stories on the following topics, especially when they involve loss of life, Brady said: foreign embassies, diplomats in China, overseas Chinese business people, foreign students, foreign travelers, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents. They also guide the Chinese media during any major events regarding Tibet, Xinjiang, ethnic minorities, religion, human rights, democracy movements, internal and external terrorist activities, and Falun Gong.
Multiple media outlets are used by the CCP in its foreign propaganda efforts, said Brady. Also used are cultural activities— support for the teaching of Chinese language internationally, which includes the rapid spread of Confucius Institutes; and special activities organized for the overseas Chinese community such as conferences and “root-seeking” cultural tours.
Liu and Peng Supporting Violence in Flushing
New York-based attorney, James Li, said he opposes Liu's political campaign because Liu “has no political principles.”
“He is a politician without any of the fundamental values of America—liberty, freedom, democracy—those are our fundamental principles,” Li said.
“He supports or sympathizes with the people who attack Falun Gong practitioners and others, and he never supports or sympathizes with dissidents from China. He sympathize with the attackers. It’s ugly.”
Li heard of the attacks on Falun Gong practitioners in Flushing last year. The attacks were supported by Chinese Consul General Peng Keyu, who was recorded as congratulating the pro-CCP groups.
“They came over after they fought with Falun Gong (practitioners),” Peng was recorded as saying about the pro-CCP group. “I shook hands with them one by one to thank them. Then I said a few words (to them), encouraging words.”
Victor Yau (a.k.a. Qiu Wei), founder and CEO of the Overseas Chinese Ethnic Foundation, was involved in the hate campaign against Falun Gong practitioners that began in May 2008.
Yau was arrested in June 2008, for allegedly attacking a practitioner with a steering wheel lock. Less than two weeks later, Yau joined a meeting in John Liu's office with other supporters of the attacks against Falun Gong. Liu kicked local Falun Gong practitioners out of the meeting.
Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline based on truthfulness, compassion, forbearance, and includes five exercises. People who practice it have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999. Before then it had attracted between 70-100 million practitioners since its introduction to the public in 1992.