China to Marco Rubio: Corruption bill challenges red line

By Around the Web

Marco Rubio on ABC's 'This Week' May 27, 2018 (Broadcast screenshot)
U.S. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Wire.]

By Susan Crabtree
Real Clear Wire

Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Andy Ogles are brushing aside warnings from the Chinese Communist Party to yank their support for legislation designed to expose the corrupt nature of China’s regime to the world.

In mid-June, the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., sent sternly worded emails to staffers for the two Republican lawmakers, expressing “grave concern” over their sponsorship of the Communist Party Malign Influence Act. The messages said the bill “seriously challenges China’s political red line” and labeled it “a blatant political provocation” that could threaten recent efforts to improve U.S.-China relations.

If passed into law, the measure would require the U.S. director of national intelligence to produce a public report detailing the wealth and corruption of Chinese party members, including President Xi Jinping, within 90 days. The bill also would mandate a hearing on the report’s findings with the DNI before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

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Over the last 15 years, different entities, including China’s central bank, have found that thousands of corrupt Chinese government officials have stolen more than $100 billion from the Chinese people and fled overseas, mainly to the United States. As recently as January, media outlets also have reported that close relatives of China’s top leaders have used secretive offshore companies as tax havens to shroud the Communist elite’s wealth, an embarrassment for President Xi, who has cast himself as a devoted anti-corruption crusader.

The bill grabbed the attention of Chinese officials at the embassy in Washington, D.C., less than six days after Rubio and Ogles introduced it. Rubio’s and Ogles’ efforts “will serve as another campaign to slander and defame the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese leadership, and seriously challenges China’s political red line and constitutes a blatant political provocation,” a Chinese official wrote in a June 18 email to Rubio and Ogles. “We strongly deplore and firmly oppose this Act.”

“The China-U.S. relationship is the most consequential one in the world,” the email continued. “Its steady and healthy development serves our two countries’ best interests. Our two countries may have competition, but we don’t have to be rivals. Instead, we should strive to be partners.”

The embassy said that “undermining the legitimacy of the CCP” will also undermine “the crucial bilateral relationship” between the U.S. and China. “We hereby urge Sen. Rubio to stop pushing forward with this act,” the diplomat asserted. But far from backing away from their measure, Rubio and Ogles consider the open CCP opposition a point of pride.

“The Chinese Communist Party hates not being able to control the narrative,” Rubio told RealClearPolitics. “But the regime’s actions are undeniable, and U.S. policymakers have an obligation to expose and combat Beijing’s tactics.”

Ogles was equally steadfast in supporting the legislation after receiving an almost identical embassy email. “To receive an email with such a strong response to a request for accountability seems telling, but we remain undeterred in our quest for the truth and exposure of any corruption that might exist,” an Ogles spokesperson said in a statement.

Sending vaguely threatening emails to U.S. lawmakers isn’t a novel concept for the Chinese embassy, which did not respond to RCP’s inquiry, although instances of it are rarer in recent years because it isn’t an effective strategy, according to China expert Gordan Chang.

Still, Chang said, Chinese diplomats are forced to do things they know aren’t effective because Xi has “this hostile, belligerent attitude towards the world, and he expects his diplomats to display that belligerent attitude.”

Chang also scoffed at the email’s contention that “the CCP is a party that serves the people wholeheartedly” and its reference to surveys conducted by “institutions in the West” that, it purports, show that “more than 90% of Chinese people are satisfied with the party and their government.”

“In the past, there have been attempts to undermine the CCP’s leadership, but all failed,” the email asserted. “Any future attempt of this nature is also doomed to failure.”

The email didn’t specify which polling it was referencing. Still, Chang said no poll about government effectiveness can be trusted in China because of the authoritarian and coercive nature of the Xi regime.

“Nobody really knows what the Chinese people think, especially the Communist Party, because when you run an especially coercive regime, people do not necessarily express how they feel about things,” he said. “And, if the party [officials] were confident about the way the Chinese people felt, it wouldn’t have to be so coercive.”

Chang also argued that it’s past time for the U.S. intelligence community to expose officials’ widespread misuse of Chinese government funds and their attempts to conceal it.

“Chinese leaders should not be parking the fruits of corruption in the United States,” he said. “And obviously, the Chinese regime is worried about this because if the Chinese people knew how corrupt their leaders were, then that could very well lead to the end of the party. For the party, this is an existential matter, and they will go to the ends of the earth to try to defeat this legislation.”

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.

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