For Wall Street and Silicon Valley, the prospect of doing deals in China is mesmerizing. To do those deals in China, as they have learned, you must play nice with the regime, speak well of them, feather their nests.... It is no less tempting for American politicians.... Of greatest concern are the deals that actually advance Chinese state interests. Pictured: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (second from right) speaks while facing Yang Jiechi (second from left), director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office, and Wang Yi (left), China's Foreign Minister at the opening session of US-China talks in Anchorage, Alaska on March 18, 2021. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
What is China buying in the Biden Administration? A look to the recent past may provide some answers.
If you go back to 2009-10 and look at the "shovel-ready" stimulus package that President Barack Obama pushed through, as most people now know, there were huge amounts of money in the form of direct grants and loan guarantees that went to Solyndra and other "green energy" companies that failed. Yet, the question remained: Where did all that taxpayer money go for green energy?
If you trace it, you will find that 80 percent of that money went to green energy companies that were owned by individuals who sat on Barack Obama's Finance Committee for his 2008 campaign.
Now that Obama's former VP is president, another infrastructure package will include plenty of expenditures for more green schemes. Whether they work or whether they will simply raise our energy prices, the simple fact is that there are large, powerful donors to the Biden campaign that have big financial stakes in these green energy companies. It is a wealth transfer to Biden's biggest bundlers, and that is a huge and massive problem. For those companies with inside connections to the Biden campaign, it is American taxpayer money that is truly "shovel-ready."
The present circumstances compound
s one problem -- crony capitalism is extremely profitable – which brings a second problem -- the flushness of foreign cash. Former congressmen and senators, and former US ambassadors are being paid large sums of money by governments such as China, or by firms directly linked to those governments, which do not have America's best interest at heart. They are lobbying in Washington to get their paymasters' voices heard.
If you invest a couple of million dollars, let us say, in lobbying, or you invest a couple of million dollars in campaign contributions, often you can get benefits that are worth ten times that.
The second problem is related to the source of funds. We see an increasing influx of foreign money into Washington, DC. Some of it comes from these foreign companies; they will set up a US affiliate, and then that US affiliate will make campaign contributions.
For many years we all believed that closer commercial ties with China would liberalize their political system. Free-traders and internationalists alike agreed on this. The reverse happened. When you look at what China's leader, President Xi Jinping, has done in the last seven years, China has become more repressive internally, more aggressive internationally, and more dangerous militarily. But there was one nugget of truth -- economic bonds with China seem to have caused a convergence of interests with many American elites.
For Wall Street and Silicon Valley, the prospect of doing deals in China is mesmerizing. To do those deals in China, as they have learned, you must play nice with the regime, speak well of them, feather their nests. All of this makes you implicitly more pro-Beijing. Just ask LeBron James. It is no less tempting for American politicians.
Of greatest concern are the deals that actually advance Chinese state interests. Deals involving part of a mine in the Congo, Africa, with another Chinese company that was going to help fight the minerals war and help China get access to strategic minerals. Or China General Nuclear Power Group, that was later implicated by the FBI for stealing nuclear secrets in the United States. Or a deal with Cosco, the Chinese overseas shipping company, to buy the national railway system of Greece. Greece was privatizing assets, and China wanted to buy it. They already owned a port.
This was part of China's One Belt One Road initiative, which the Obama administration itself had said was an effort by China to counteract and overcome the United States around the world. This is not a simply a case of, "Oh, gosh, corruption is terrible."
This is actually a case of aiding Chinese state-backed companies that are engaging in transactions that are advancing the strategic interest in Chinese government -- not just payola but something far more troubling.
China seems to have a lot of influence in the current White House, and that this puts the Biden administration in a bit of a bind. Public opinion in the U.S. has shifted against China, chiefly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because Americans are finally realizing how vulnerable and dependent on China we have become.
The time-honored ruse by politicians in such a bind is to reverse Theodore Roosevelt's advice by speaking loudly and carrying a small stick. Biden's administration, whatever its rhetoric, does not seem prepared to do the real work. The evidence of foreign entanglements by its principal actors suggests that China continues to have the administration's ear.
If the Biden administration truly wants to counteract some of this dependence, it runs contrary to statements that Biden has made in the past, and contrary to some of the, let us say, entangling relationships that his most senior administration officials have relating to China. It would have to take on those entanglements, and those of some major campaign donors from both Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
There is no other way to state this. The only way we can correct this situation is by exposing these people and showing U.S. citizens exactly what they are doing in our society. This is the job of responsible voices in the press, yet there is little evidence they are up to the challenge. Six years ago, the New York Times ran a 4,000-word front page story that confirmed the main assertions of the book, Clinton Cash. Yet, just before the 2020 election, the Times ran a piece by its "media reporter" bragging about their role as gatekeepers that would not pursue the Hunter Biden story. My goal and hope is that the next book will be the beginning of a broader effort to hold the press, as well as our political, business, and technology leaders accountable.
Peter Schweizer, President of the Governmental Accountability Institute, is a Gatestone Institute Distinguished Senior Fellow and author of the best-selling books Profiles in Corruption, Secret Empires and Clinton Cash, among others.