China Funded Secret Plan to Sway U.S. Elections


Aug. 11, 2001

China funded a secret operation to influence the 1996 U.S. elections in favor of candidates sympathetic to the communist dictatorship, a Senate Intelligence Committee report revealed Friday.
The committee examined whether intelligence substantiated allegations that China had tried to sway the elections through political donations and other means, it said in a report of its activities during the 1999-2000 Congress. ``The answer to that question, the committee concluded, was: yes,'' the report said, Reuters news agency reported.

Most major news media ignored the bombshell development. A search of Web sites between 8 and 9 p.m. EDT Friday found no mention of the Senate panel's report by CNN, CBS, ABC, Fox News, MSNBC and the Washington Post. The Associated Press finally filed a report at 8:46 p.m. The New York Times, supposedly containing "All the news that's fit to print," instead prominently featured a puff piece headlined "Chinese President Expresses Optimism on Relations With U.S."

The Chinese regime has traditionally focused on influencing the U.S. president and other officials in the executive branch, according to Reuters reporter Tabassum Zakaria. However, when Lee Teng-hui, then president of Taiwan, was granted a U.S. visa in 1995, Chinese officials decided ``it was necessary to reassess their relationship with Congress,'' the Senate panel's report said.

China devised an official plan and provided money to implement it with the goal of influencing American politics favorably toward Beijing, the committee said. ``The existence of this plan is substantiated by the body of evidence reviewed by the committee, including intelligence reports,'' the report said. The Chinese plan apparently concentrated on getting China sympathizers elected to the Congress, rather than try to sway a sitting member of Congress on a particular bill, according to a U.S. source knowledgeable about the report, Reuters reported.

The Senate Intelligence Committee ``discovered no direct evidence or information of an actual attempt to influence a particular member of Congress,'' the committee report said. ``There is intelligence information indicating [Chinese] officials provided funds to U.S. political campaigns.'' There was information about specific ?and illegal - contributions to U.S. political campaigns, but no information directly connected the contributions to the covert Chinese plan, the source told Zakaria.

``The intelligence information is inconclusive as to whether the contributions were part of the overall China plan,'' the Senate report said.

``There is no intelligence information indicating that contributions had any influence on U.S. policy or the U.S. political process or that any recipients knew the contributions were from a foreign source.'' The Clinton Connection In 1998, congressional Republicans including then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi claimed to have evidence of direct Chinese financing of 1996 Democrat campaigns, the Associated Press reported. "This came during a Senate investigation into the Clinton administration's decision to let two U.S. aerospace companies, Loral Space & Communications and Hughes Electronics Corp., export satellites to be launched atop Chinese rockets."

Democrat fund-raiser Johnny Chung, a prominent figure in a 1996 campaign finance scandal, has admitted helping to move $300,000 from a high-ranking Chinese military officer to Bill Clinton's presidential re-election campaign. Intelligence information showed that the intermediary between Chung and the Chinese officer was Liu Chao-ying, the daughter of Gen. Liu Hua-qing, formerly the top military official in China, the Senate Intelligence Committee report said. Chung was sentenced in December 1998 to probation after pleading guilty to bank fraud, tax evasion and making illegal contributions to the campaign.

``China was running a covert action against us,'' said Steven Aftergood, a director at the Federation of American Scientists, which posted the committee report on its Web site. "That's certainly a startling finding.''