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Dissident Wu 'very surprised' at Chao pick

Chinese dissident Hongda “Harry” Wu says he’s “very surprised” President-elect Bush tapped Elaine Chao to be Labor Department secretary, given her apparent business conflicts.

“I worry about Elaine Chao’s business relationship with communist China,” he told WorldNetDaily. “This woman has a significant shipping business through her father.”

James S.C. Chao is chairman and chief executive of New York-based Foremost Maritime Corp., which ships goods to China and also buys ships from the China State Shipbuilding Corporation.

Chao’s ties to Chinese President Jiang Zemin run deep. The two were classmates at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai and have kept in touch ever since.

In 1994, for instance, Chao, along with Elaine Chao and her husband, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell, visited mainland China and met with Jiang.

Chao returned the next year to take an honorary professorship and presidency at the Shanghai Maritime College. His daughter again joined him on the trip.

When Jiang visited the White House in 1997, he met privately for about 20 minutes with Elaine Chao, along with McConnell, before an elaborate state dinner for Jiang hosted by President Clinton. The Kentucky senator met again with Jiang the next morning.

“He was trying to emphasize that the U.S. and China are natural friends, and their futures are intertwined, and that they should try to understand each other,” Chao said in describing her talk with Jiang.

Chao has lobbied for normalized trade with China and has downplayed concerns about China’s growing military threat and espionage campaign here.

In military writings, Chinese army leaders have targeted the U.S. as enemy No. 1. They’ve also recently formed a military alliance with Russia.

Wu, a Hoover Institution fellow, criticizes Chao for glossing over the fact that China is still run by communist hard-liners, who pump proceeds from U.S. trade back into military front companies run by a privileged class. A prominent human rights activist, Wu spent about two decades in Chinese prisons for his political views.

“I’m very surprised Bush would pick her to head Labor, especially when most of the profits from trade with China goes into the pockets of socialist leaders, not workers,” Wu said.

Both Chao and McConnell, however, serve on the board of the China Foundation, a non-profit charity devoted to helping develop rural parts of China.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, the standard government questionnaire Chao must fill out for the secretary’s job requires that she disclose:

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