A number of U.S. government officials recently took part in an virtual agriculture event co-hosted by a Beijing-backed influence association that has ties to Bill Gates.
The United States Heartland China Association (USHCA), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2003, held the online 2022 U.S.-China Agriculture Roundtable earlier this month. The online event was co-hosted by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).
The Trump administration warned about CPAFFC. In February 2020, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, called out the association as “the public face of the Chinese Communist Party’s official foreign influence agency, the United Front Work Department.”
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses the United Front Work Department (UFWD) to run its foreign influence operations. In the United States, the CCP has also deployed grass-roots level “united front” groups as part of its effort to infiltrate America’s civil and political institutions.
CPAFFC is “tasked with co-opting subnational governments” and “has sought to directly and malignly influence state and local leaders to promote the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] global agenda,” the U.S. State Department warned in October 2020, when designating another group, a Washington-based Chinese organization, as a foreign mission.
The roundtable featured a number of U.S. state officials, including Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur, Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam, Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, and Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.)
The 2022 roundtable event was initially reported by the National Pulse. The inaugural roundtable was held in April 2021.
The state-run Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) was one of the partners of the event. Several CASS officials and scholars also took part in the roundtable, including Wang Wei, director-general of the academy’s bureau of international cooperation.
Bob Holden, former Democrat governor of Missouri and current USHCA chairman and CEO, said during the roundtable’s opening ceremony that U.S.-Sino cooperation was “essential” to overcome global challenges, including “producing enough nutritious food to feed the growing population on the planet” and “preventing future pandemics of human, animal, and plant diseases.”
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has worked with CPAFFC over the years, in particular with the association’s previous president, Li Xiaolin, who held the position from September 2011 to April 2020.
Li is no ordinary Chinese citizen. She was a former member of the Chinese regime’s political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Additionally, she is the daughter of former Chinese regime leader Li Xiannian and her husband is Liu Yazhou, a retired general of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force.
By Frank Fang