American intelligence agencies have warned U.S. state and local leaders to be wary of China’s influence activities. the Chinese government is seeking to use years of commercial and cultural ties with U.S leaders to advance its geopolitical and military objectives, Voice of America (VOA) quoted the sleuths as saying.
The National Counter-intelligence and Security Center, which is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a briefing released Wednesday that U.S. state and local leaders have been in contact with many Chinese entities for decades, often bringing benefits to both sides, but “as tensions between Beijing and Washington have heightened, the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under President Xi Jinping has increasingly sought to use these local ties between China and the United States to influence U.S. policy and advance China’s geopolitical interests,” the National Counter-intelligence and Security Center, which is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a briefing released Wednesday.
The briefing, titled “Guarding Our Future: Protecting Government and Business Leaders from PRC Influence Actions at the U.S. State and Local Levels,” said the Chinese government “understands that U.S. state and local leaders are somewhat independent of Washington and may seek to use them as proxies to advocate for what Beijing wants, including improving U.S. economic cooperation with China and reducing U.S. targeting of China against Taiwan, Tibetans, Uighurs, Policy criticism by democracy activists and others. ”
The U.S. intelligence agency’s briefing said China’s influence activities can be both overt and deceptive and coercive, and that “seemingly benign business opportunities or people-to-people exchanges sometimes obscure the PRC’s political agenda.” ”
“Fiscal preferences could be used to attract U.S. state and local leaders as they focus on local economic issues,” the briefing warned. “In some cases, the PRC or its proxies may urge state and local leaders to take actions that meet local needs, but are also advancing the PRC agenda, sometimes even in excess of U.S. national interests.”
The united front work department of the Communist Party of China plays a leading role in China’s overseas influence activities, as well as The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Education, as well as a number of semi-official entities or agents, including the Chinese Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the China Association for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification.
In 2020, then-U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo announced that the U.S. branch of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification would be listed as a foreign mission.
In addition, the United States has stopped participating in the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Chinese governments on the Establishment of a U.S.-China Governors’ Forum to Promote Local Cooperation.
Pompeo said in a statement at the time that the Chinese Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries “seeks to directly and maliciously influence U.S. state and local leaders, undermining the original intent of the State Governors Forum.” ”
In the briefing Wednesday, U.S. intelligence also noted that China’s means of influencing U.S. state and local leaders include gathering information about them; Target them early in their careers with a view to using them to advance China’s interests after their promotion; and the use of economy, trade and investment to reward or punish local leaders.
But the counterintelligence briefing also warned U.S. state and local leaders not to overreact and not to “suspect all contacts from China,” because the threats come from the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, and “not from ordinary Chinese and Chinese-Americans, who themselves are often victims of PRC aggressive behavior.” ”
U.S. state and local leaders only need to make sure they are “vigilant and conduct due diligence” and that there are “mechanisms for transparency, integrity and accountability” in any partnership with China, the brief said.