Dem Rep Was Appointed ‘Honorary Chairwoman’ Of Alleged Chinese Intel Front Group
Philip Lenczycki on February 6, 2023
California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu was appointed to a leadership position within an alleged Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligence front group in 2019, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
In August 2019, Chu was named “honorary chairwoman” of the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China, an organization which opposes Taiwan’s independence, according to a DCNF translation of multiple sources. However, the U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission (USCC) has previously identified the organization as serving a CCP “intelligence service,” while multiple experts told the DCNF that they agreed with USCC’s determination.
Chu and the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
The Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China is one of 33 anti-Taiwan independence organizations in the U.S. which serve as subchapters of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification (CCPPNR), an organization USCC labeled as “directly subordinate” to the United Front Work Department (UFWD) in 2018.
The UFWD’s “primary missions” are to “liaison with foreign political parties,” “influence operations” and “intelligence collection,” the USCC has stated, and, towards that end, the CCP deploys UFWD operatives around the world to “co-opt and neutralize” potential opposition groups such as “ethnic minorities, religious groups and intellectuals.”
The Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China appointed Chu their “honorary chairwoman” during the 34th inauguration ceremony of the organization’s executive committee held at the Capital Seafood restaurant in Monterey Park on August 23, 2019, according to a DCNF translation of an article by the Las Vegas Chinese News Network and the website of another UFWD affiliate.
Several experts on Chinese intelligence operations confirmed that the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China is a Chinese intelligence influence operation connected to the UFWD after reviewing Chinese government websites, USCC’s report and Chinese-language news sources.
“They are the same organization,” Russell Hsiao, executive director of the Global Taiwan Institute, told the DCNF.
Hsiao cited a 2013 article by Chinese state-run media outlet People’s Daily, which, among other things, highlighted the groups links to the Los Angeles Chinese Consulate as well as other groups in southern California allegedly tied to the CCP.
“Yes, absolutely,” Dr. June Tuefel Dreyer, former USCC commissioner, told the DCNF. “I don’t think they’re working very hard to hide that.”
Despite the organization’s apparent UFWD ties, U.S. authorities may still misjudge the group as a mere “social organization,” Dreyer said.
“Anyone with basic understanding of Chinese language, China-Taiwan relations, and the politics of related affinity groups within the United States would easily see similarities between the problematic United Front organization identified by the USCC and its southern California chapter where Rep. Judy Chu appears to have been appointed honorary chair,” Steve Yates, former Chinese language analyst for the National Security Agency, told the DCNF.
Chu received a signed English certificate at the August 2019 event from Guo Zhiming, the incoming “chairman” of the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China, stating that her appointment was in recognition of her “outstanding friendship and support,” according to photos of the event posted by the Las Vegas Chinese News Network.
Chu advocated against Taiwan’s independence at the event, stating that she wished for China and Taiwan “to become one family,” according to a DCNF translation of an archived article posted by the Alliance for China’s Peaceful Reunification USA (ACPRUSA), an anti-Taiwan independence organization also listed as one of CCPPNR’s 33 U.S. chapters.
While the full range of duties expected from the “honorary chairwoman” of the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China remains unclear, during the 2019 event, Chu served as a ceremony “witness” and “supervised” the transfer of the organization’s official seal between the outgoing and incoming chairmen, according to a DCNF translation of ACPRUSA’s website.
It also remains unclear whether or not Chu continues to serve as the organization’s “honorary chairwoman” or is still involved with the organization in any capacity.
“Getting American leaders to be seen standing against the will of the Taiwan people in favor of Beijing’s position is a core objective of the United Front,” Yates told the DCNF. “In name and in substance, such leaders allow themselves to be used as a tool to demoralize Taiwan and empower a government who spends every moment of every day undermining American interests and American allies.”
However, Chu’s 2019 appointment as “honorary chairwoman” of the alleged UFWD front group appears in contrast with her previous public support for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the U.S. in August 2018, as reported by Politico, during which time Chu and two other congressmen welcomed Tsai at the Los Angeles airport.
In August 2022, Chu claimed that she’d “always supported Taiwan” prior to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, CNN reported. Yet, at the time, Chu also never offered firm support for Pelosi’s visit either, claiming that she’d “leave it up to those who are going to make that decision,” according to CNN.
More recently, Rep. Chu voted against the formation of the House Select Committee on Jan. 10, whose agenda includes investigating how the U.S. can better combat CCP espionage as well as how the U.S. military should counter Beijing’s increasingly belligerent actions in the waters around Taiwan. While justifying her vote, Chu claimed that the committee could spur anti-Asian violence, according to a statement released by the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), which Chu chairs.
The revelations surrounding Rep. Chu’s role in the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China comes after the DCNF revealed that Chu has served as the “honorary president” of the All America Chinese Youth Federation since 2012, an organization whose leadership includes several individuals who’ve belonged to alleged front groups serving the CCP’s UFWD.
Rep. Chu’s involvement with the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China began as early as March 2012, when the California congresswoman attended an inaugural ceremony for the organization’s 19th executive committee, Chinese government records reveal. In addition to Chu, the ceremony was also attended by Qiu Shaofang, former consul general of the Los Angeles Consulate, according to the records.
The Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China has apparently coordinated closely with the Chinese government and the Los Angeles Chinese Consulate in particular, the DCNF determined, with Chinese government sources recording more than half a dozen official meetings between consular officials and the alleged UFWD front group between 2005 and 2014 alone.
The Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China has also apparently worked closely with CCPPNR since its inception, with CCPPNR’s “deputy secretary general” Wang Changyu, a CCP member, having attended the organization’s founding ceremony in Los Angeles in August 2002, according to a DCNF translation of CCPPNR’s website.
Similarly, the former “chairman” of the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China, Zhou Dezhao, traveled to Beijing in 2015 to meet with CCPPNR’s “honorary president,” according to DCNF translations of CCPPNR’s website.
“Zhou is without a doubt connected to [the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China] and served as its 32nd rotating chairman from 2017 to 2018,” Hsiao told the DCNF, while identifying Zhou standing near Rep. Chu within a photo from the aforementioned 2019 event.
Zhou did not respond to the DCNF’s questions regarding the nature of the relationship between CCPPNR and the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China.
Dreyer told the DCNF that the leadership of the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China and related UFWD front groups were certainly “aware” that the organization was working with the Chinese government.
“The reason they’re chosen as leaders is because they are amenable to the Chinese Communist government’s message,” said Dreyer. “The leaderships share the core directorate, so to speak; they take orders from the same entity.”
CCPPNR’s front groups have spread propaganda “closely aligned” with official CCP propaganda, The Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank, reported in 2018. The Jamestown Foundation cited a statement from the website of the National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification (NACPU), which insisted that the “U.S. government and Congress” agree not to fight in a “possible war” between Beijing and Taipei “caused by the provocation of separatism in Taiwan.”
Conversely, some members of CCPPNR’s front groups may also simply see their membership in “opportunistic terms of networking, and of signaling loyalty to the Chinese government — with the potential benefits that may follow — rather than as a means to effect substantive change in U.S. policy,” The Jamestown Foundation reported.
The Chinese Consulate did not respond immediately to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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