Though little known beyond elite circles, the Committee of 100 is one of the Chinese Communist Party’s most important “influence” organizations in the United States.
Much like the recently defunded Confucius Institutes—the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act stipulates that no Pentagon money may be used for a program that includes the Confucius Institutes—the C-100 publicly promotes increased Chinese-American relations and understanding while, in reality, toeing the Chinese Communist Party line to America’s cultural, business, and political leaders.
During Xi Jinping’s first U.S. visit as Chinese head of state in September 2015, Xi praised the C-100 before guests at a welcome dinner co-hosted by the National Committee on U.S.–China Relations, the U.S.–China Business Council, and the Washington State Welcoming Committee–Seattle 2015.
“As a Chinese saying goes, the fire burns high when everyone brings wood to it. It is the loving care and hard work of … friendly organizations and people from all walks of life in both countries that have made China–U.S. relations flourish,” Xi said.
“In particular … the Committee of 100 … and many other friendly groups and individuals have made untiring efforts over the years to promote friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries and brought the relationship this far.”
C-100 is also viewed favorably by leading Chinese Communist Party officials.
On May 7, 2010, “a good friend of the Committee of 100,” C.H. Tung, vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference—a “united front organization under the leadership of the Communist Party of China”—met with New York C-100 members to discuss U.S.–China relations. During his visit to the United States, Tung spoke to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace about the importance of mutual understanding and trust. Tung’s China–U.S. Exchange Foundation was then formed with C-100 help to “support activities furthering such understanding.”
On May 13, 2010, C-100 members Clarence Kwan, Lulu C. Wang, and Alice Young met with professors Hongwei Li and Qin Lu, both from the CCP’s Central Party School, to discuss “China’s new media as well as environmental issues.”
The C-100 holds regular conferences in the United States and “Greater China,” including occasionally Taiwan. The organization regularly sends delegations of American journalists to China and facilitates meetings with high-level government and business leaders. C-100 has also sent black and Latino delegations to China, mostly comprising leftist “community leaders.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who opened U.S. relations with Mao’s China under President Richard Nixon, helped conceive the idea of the C-100 and encouraged co-founders I.M. Pei and Henry Tang to establish the organization in 1989.
According to the website of the C-100 newsletter:
“The Committee of 100 was conceived in 1989 by famed architect I.M. Pei to fill the need for an organization of influential Chinese Americans who could speak with a unified voice to decision-makers at the highest levels in both the U.S. and China.
“By the end of 1990, C-100 Founders Pei, Yo-Yo Ma, Shirley Young, Oscar Tang, Henry Tang, and Chien-Shiung Wu had recruited nearly 100 American citizens of Chinese descent who had reached the pinnacle of their fields, spanning the arts, business, academia, public service, science and technology.
“Uniting them was the desire to expand the participation of Chinese Americans in all aspects of American life and to foster better U.S.–China relations.”
Today, the C-100 roster has expanded to more than 190 members—all top performers in their fields, and all seemingly friendly to the existing regime in China.
Current C-100 members who have served the U.S. government at high levels include, former general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security Ivan Fong, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy Robert Gee, former Commissioner of the Federal Maritime Commission Ming Chen Hsu, White House National Economic Council Senior Counselor Ginger Lew, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, former U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce and current Maryland Deputy Secretary of Commerce Benjamin Wu, and former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Debra Wong Yang.
C-100’s advisory board includes Norman Mineta, secretary of transportation under President George W. Bush; Irene Hirano-Inouye, president of the U.S.–Japan Council; Dr. William J. Perry, former secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton; and John L. Thornton, chair of the board of trustees at the Brookings Institution.
The C-100 roster also includes a few representatives on the old Maoist revolutionary left.
Gordon H. Chang, director of the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford University (not to be confused with CCP critic Gordon G. Chang) joined C-100 in 2015. In the 1970s and ‘80s, he was a leader of the Maoist I Wor Kuen and the League of Revolutionary Struggle.
C-100 board of directors member Stewart Kwoh is the founding president and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles. For many years, he was close to members of the Communist Workers Party, which is pro-CCP/North Korea. In 2008, Stewart Kwoh organized a leadership trip to Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai for 12 national Latino leaders, which was briefed by C-100 members, both before departure and in China.
The current C-100 chairman is Frank H. Wu, chancellor and dean of the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.
C-100 courts both main U.S. political parties—mostly far-left Democrats and “moderate” Republicans. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein has attended C-100 events, as have members of Congress Ro Khanna, Ted Lieu, Mike Honda, Judy Chu, and House intelligence committee member Adam Schiff, as well as state Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and California State Controller Betty Yee have also supported C-100 events.
On the Republican side, former Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk was very close to C-100. Former Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany, retiring California Rep. Ed Royce, and current Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner have all attended or endorsed C-100 events.
A very important mission for the C-100 is the protection of Chinese spies from investigation and prosecution.
A 2017 white paper, “Prosecuting Chinese Spies: An Empirical Analysis of the Economic Espionage Act,” published by C-100 claimed to provide “empirical indications that Asians in America may be facing unfair and increasing racial prejudice in the U.S. government’s campaign to crack down on theft of economic trade secrets.”
The white paper continues: “Recent prosecutions of innocent Chinese Americans have raised concerns that U.S. Department of Justice investigations of suspected espionage have been influenced by racial prejudice. ‘This study shows that there is enough evidence to be concerned,’ said C-100 Chairman Frank H. Wu. ‘The growing number of false accusations towards American citizens of Asian descent and the factual similarities among the situations show an apparent pattern and practice of selective and discriminatory treatment. It deserves rigorous monitoring.’”
The Chinese intelligence service goal is to deter investigation of Chinese nationals by authorities, by pre-emptively accusing the authorities of “racism,” then protecting those actually arrested by claiming that the charges spring from bias, rather than a response to real criminal behavior.
This is a Chinese intelligence influence operation, and C-100 is doing the CCP’s dirty work for them.
The CCP is also using C-100 to regain some of the propaganda ground lost under the Trump administration. Neutralizing or seducing Trump’s key allies is high on the Chinese agenda.
In October 2017, C-100 announced the launch of the “C100 U.S.–China Fulbright Fund” in Washington. The $1 million fund was “initiated by Committee of 100 members” and would “operate under the government’s binational Fulbright program to expand U.S.–China educational exchanges.”
The new fund was announced during a State Department public diplomacy event at George Washington University, the “U.S.–China Social and Cultural Dialogue,” hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Madame Vice Premier Liu Yandong as “part of the U.S.–China Comprehensive Dialogue framework spearheaded by President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping.”
The special event featured U.S. Cabinet secretaries Elaine Chao (transportation) and Betsy DeVos (education), and a high-level delegation of Chinese leaders including Vice Premier Liu Yandong, Minister of Education Chen Baosheng, Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang, Minister of Culture Luo Shugang, Minister of National Health and Family Planning Commission Li Bin, and Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai.
“We are grateful to the Committee of 100 [for their pledge of] $1 million to launch a C100 U.S.–China Fulbright Fund,” DeVos said in her remarks. “I look forward to continuing to work together on these vital programs.”
Wu, the C100 chairman, added: “Committee of 100 is honored to partner and contribute to furthering our nation’s goals to advance exchanges with China under the Fulbright program. We are also grateful to Secretary Rex Tillerson, Secretary Elaine Chao, Secretary Betsy DeVos, Madame Premier Liu Yandong, and the impressive delegation from China for their leadership and participation in the U.S.–China Social and Cultural Dialogue.”
“As an organization dedicated to the betterment of U.S.–China relations,” Wu continued, “C100 views these exchanges as a critical backbone for long-term constructive engagement between the U.S. and China, not only expanding people-to-people ties and developing future generation bridge-builders, but also establishing a positive springboard for cooperative government-to-government dialogue to address the expanding plethora of strategic issues facing our two nations.”
The C-100 U.S.-China Fulbright Fund was funded by C-100 members Kenneth Fong, C-100 board member and founder of Kenson Ventures, LLC; Ming Hsieh, C-100 board member, and president and founder of Fulgent Therapeutics; Howard Li, C-100 board member, C-100 Greater China co-chair and chairman of Waitex International Co., Ltd.; Roger Wang, C-100 board member and chairman of Golden Eagle International Group; and Walter Wang, longtime C-100 member, and president and CEO of JM Eagle.
Were these donations made out of the kindness of their hearts, or at the bidding of the CCP?
In China, the lines between business and politics are very blurred. The C-100 seems to operate in the same way.
The Committee of 100 works to further CCP social, economic, and political goals in the United States. Why is this permitted? Why are C-100 leaders not at least required to officially register as foreign agents?