NEW YORK—Ralliers gathered on the steps of City Hall with bright yellow boards showing the names of two allegedly pro-communist local politicians, John Liu and John Choe, dashed out with big red Xs.
Speakers from the Flushing-based Christian Democratic Party of China (CDPC) and other groups, such as the Pan Asian Freedom Protection League, took turns to highlight different points of concern in John Liu's record. Some called into question John Liu's campaign finances, pointing out apparent inconsistencies between publicly recorded donated amounts and what those people said they actually donated.
Chen Zhifei, a professor of economics at New York University, said that John Liu is damaging the image of Chinese people, that he doesn't stand for American values, and that he lied about working in a sweatshop.
The CDPC, who led the event, seems to have accepted the fact that, at least for now, they're one of the few groups openly expressing concern over the questionable links between John Liu and the Chinese Communist Party, and between John Choe, his former chief of staff, and North Korea.
"A lot of people are still sleeping about this," says David Donglu, the spokesperson for the CDPC about John Liu's alleged connections. "They don't know how the Chinese government operates."
Donglu leveled a number of religious complaints against the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) atheist doctrine and its deliberate degradation of the morality of the Chinese people over the last 60 years.
Donglu, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1986, was himself the president of a Chinese business association in the early 90s, met with propaganda and united front official in China, attended their meetings, and was planted in the network which he says is operating now. He said he turned down several solicitations of "assistance" from such officials while visiting China, and later decided he wanted to get out of the game.
The CCP doesn't like people like him, he says, whose consciences aren't up for a price. The consciences of people such as Councilman John Liu, he suggested, are.
He illustrates a potential scenario for how influence is bought: it is known that the CCP pays for the leaders of Chinese business and community organizations outside the mainland to go back to China once a year to meet the local folks, discuss business, and go through training in personnel management—all overseen by the Office of Foreign Propaganda (also known as the State Council Information Office).
While there, he says, a Chinese official may propose a business deal with an overseas Chinese businessman: he'll get the exclusive license to import edible oil to the U.S., or be able to ship from the U.S. to China door-to-door, skipping Chinese customs, or receive other special treatment.
Such offers can be made because the CCP controls all business opportunities and government departments; only those who will return favors get favors. The Chinese businessman gladly accepts, and in return is expected to promote the Party-line in his country of residence.
A businessman in this situation may be rewarded with highly lucrative business opportunities on their yearly sojourns in China, Ludong says, such that the Communist Party is effectively pouring money into the pockets of their overseas supporters.
The Chinese business association president keeps a share for himself, and donates a bunch to a friendly politician like, it is alleged, John Liu. In return, that politician would be expected to promote the Party's policies in the U.S.
"John Liu is a pro-communist in sheep's clothing," Donglu said, "a communist insider in our midst."
Evidence to prove all of the above is mostly piecemeal. Chinese business and community associations' financial records in the U.S. are private. Even if they were open to scrutiny, there's no science for proving that what on paper is merely a profitable business deal in China, is in fact no more than a bribe, funneled to friendly politicians, the CCP buying influence overseas.
David Donglu and his colleagues, however, are determined to bring the story to a wider audience. They intend to make the same rounds John Liu has, visiting the Hispanic community, the African American community, the labor unions, and the other social groups which have given John Liu their endorsement without knowing what they believe is the full picture.
"A lot of people are not alert to the dangers; they lack the information, they lack the knowledge." he said. "We're in the Chinese community, we know John Liu better than most. We need to wake these people up."