The State Department is reviewing the U.S. activities of two organizations supervised by the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department (UFWD)–a powerful agency tasked with overseeing the regime’s foreign influence operations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
Pompeo said the department is probing the U.S.-China Friendship Association and the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification.
“Our concerns include their apparent attempts to exert influence on groups across the public sphere, including schools, business associations, local politicians, media outlets, and Chinese diaspora groups,” he said on Sept. 23, during a speech to Wisconsin state lawmakers.
Both of these groups fall under the UFWD. The Party unit coordinates thousands of groups to carry out foreign political influence operations, suppress dissident movements, gather intelligence, and facilitate the transfer of technology to China, according to analysts.
The remarks come as the United States steps up its responses to the regime’s malign influence in the country. Last month, the Trump administration designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center as a foreign mission, in recognition of its role in advancing Beijing’s propaganda in U.S. classrooms, and has encouraged universities to shutter Confucius Institutes on campus.
A recent report by the Washington-based think tank Center of Strategic and Budgetary Assessments explained that Beijing uses “friendship groups,” which are often disguised as homegrown organizations run by the host country’s own citizens, to promote its interests abroad. In fact, they are front groups for the regime under its United Front apparatus that “act as mouthpieces and intermediaries for advancing China’s domestic priorities and foreign policy goals.”
Meanwhile, the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification is one of the main agencies under the UFWD and has country branches around the world.
Earlier this week, an New York City police officer, Baimadajie Angwang, was arrested for allegedly supplying intelligence on the Tibetan community in the city to Chinese consulate officials. According to court documents, Angwang’s Chinese consulate handler worked under a UFWD division, “China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture.”
Angwang regularly referred to the Chinese official connected to the UFWD as “Boss” and the two exchanged texts and talked on the phone on at least 55 occasions between June 2018 to March 2020, according to the criminal complaint.