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Exposing the relationships between America’s elites and the Chinese Communist Party, Peter Schweizer’s Red Handed is a must-read for anyone seeking answers as to why so many of our country’s political leaders and industry titans have turned a blind-eye to China’s human rights abuses, economic espionage, and authoritarian regime.
Well-researched and thoughtfully laid-out, Schweizer wastes no time before diving into one of Washington, DC’s greatest sources of controversy: Hunter Biden. Although ignored by the “mainstream” media, it’s no secret that President Biden’s son Hunter has engaged in questionable business dealings with foreign entities that place not only himself, but his leader of the free world father, in a compromised position when it comes to issues of foreign policy and diplomacy.
When it comes to China in particular, Schweizer’s research tells us, “The Biden family received some $31 million from Chinese businessmen with very close ties to the highest levels of Chinese intelligence during and after Joe Biden’s tenure as vice president.” Schweizer goes on to warn that “some of those financial relationships remain intact,” calling into question the President’s ability to put American interests first when it comes to Beijing.
Arming his readers with the sordid details of Hunter’s Chinese investments, Schweizer’s Red Handed is replete with examples of how Hunter’s business dealings with influential leaders and individuals within the Chinese Communist Party and intelligence community have benefitted not only himself, but more importantly, his father. “[T]his is a story about not just Hunter Biden, but Joe Biden himself,” Schweizer tells readers. “To some degree, for the period our research covers, Hunter Biden and Joe Biden had intertwined finances. Hunter Biden privately complained to family members about paying his father’s bills.” Schweizer further notes that “correspondence confirms that the vice president of the United States, signified by the initials ‘JRB’ for Joseph Robinette Biden, was mentioned in emails discussing payments or financial opportunities.” Indeed, Schweizer describes many emails between Hunter and his business partners about paying the bills of then Vice President Joe Biden, including for a private phone line for his father and contractors making renovations to Joe Biden’s Delaware home.
The same year Joe Biden became Vice President, Hunter Biden opened a series of businesses, including Rosemont Seneca. As Schweizer tells readers, “Fewer than twelve months after opening Rosemont Seneca, Hunter Biden and [his business partner] were in China with access to those of great financial (and political) influence.” And by April 2010, “they met with high-ranking senior Chinese officials, including the head of private equity for the Chinese government’s China Investment Corporation.” Connecting the dots for readers, Schweizer explains the importance of the timing of Hunter’s meetings: “Hunter’s meeting in China occurred just before Vice President Biden met with Chinese President Hu Jintao during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. Joe Biden would emerge as the point person on Obama administration policy on China….”
The April 2010 meeting was only the first of many and would lead to a series of Chinese investments and business deals that would amass serious wealth for Hunter (and potentially for his father, given the evidence of intertwined funds between the two). One of the companies that Hunter registered in Beijing with Chinese business partners was an investment firm that began buying and investing in strategically important U.S. and Chinese companies. One of these investments was in the China General Nuclear Power Corporation. As Schweizer tells readers, “[t]he FBI would later expose that firm as a conduit for nuclear espionage in the West.” He goes on to state that the company and one of its engineers “were charged by the Obama Justice Department with stealing nuclear secrets from the United States—actions prosecutors said could cause ‘significant damage to our national security.’”
At best, Schweizer’s revelations about Hunter’s dealings call into question President Biden’s partiality and loyalty when it comes to U.S. foreign policy toward China. At worst, these relationships warrant serious investigation and consideration as to whether Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) and other laws were properly followed by Hunter and his colleagues.
Red Handed takes readers from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to the halls of Congress to further expose the connections between Beijing and Washington, DC’s political class. From California’s Democrat elites House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Dianne Feinstein, to long-time Senate Republican Party leader Mitch McConnell, Schweizer is non-partisan in laying out all the ways in which Capitol Hill may be compromised when it comes to meaningfully challenging the human rights abuses and economic espionage committed by the Chinese Communist Party.
As Schweizer explains, the Senator and former Chairman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, has deep ties to Beijing dating back to her time as San Francisco Mayor in the late 1970s. Her contacts include Jiang Zemin, who developed a relationship with Feinstein when he was Mayor of Shanghai, which became San Francisco’s “sister city.” Jiang and Feinstein remained close as they ascended in their respective country’s political spheres, with Jiang eventually becoming the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President of China.
Feinstein’s Husband, Richard Blum, is just as engrained in the Chinese business world as his wife is in Chinese politics. As explained in Red Handed, “He became one of the earliest American investors in China. In the 1980s, he was vice chairman and director of a company called Shanghai Pacific Partners. That firm created a joint venture with a Chinese government bank called Shanghai Investment and Trust Company. Together they constructed a $30 million complex in [Shanghai].” In the years to come, Blum would go on to launch additional firms and invest in several state-owned and Chinese government-linked firms.
Schweizer goes on to lay out how Feinstein and her husband’s Chinese relationships—and ability to amass considerable wealth by virtue of such relationships—has affected her ability to act with impartiality when it comes to China’s abuses. As just one example, “In 1994, while the U.S. Senate was considering rescinding most-favored-nation (MFN) trade status with China because of human rights violations in the wake of Tiananmen Square, she argued vigorously against it. Doing so, she said, would only ‘inflame Beijing’s insecurities.’” Feinstein’s friend Jiang Zemin was Mayor of Shanghai during the massacre and was President of the People’s Republic of China when Feinstein was opposing rescission of China’s MFN status. Schweizer points out that as Feinstein was making those comments, her husband was also raising tens of millions of dollars for one of his firm’s Asian affiliates.
Given the California Senator’s continued defense of Beijing (Schweizer includes many other examples), it’s no wonder the Chinese have found willing partners in Silicon Valley. From entertaining examples, such as Mark Zuckerberg asking Chinese President Xi Jinping to give his child a Chinese name (spoiler alert: Xi declined), to more serious instances, such as Microsoft’s Bing search engine suppressing images of the Tiananmen Square massacre on the anniversary of the tragedy, Red Handed also demonstrates how America’s tech industry has kowtowed to the point of proactively aiding the Chinese Communist Party in its quest to displace American technological and military superiority.
For instance, Schweizer educates readers on Google’s efforts to effectively aid China in furthering its “national priority” of surpassing the United States when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI). “In 2017, Google announced the opening of an AI research facility in Beijing…supported by several hundred China-based engineers.” The announcement just happened to be around the time the Chinese Communist Party laid out its AI development plan. As Schweizer tells readers, Google’s Chinese activity has garnered attention at the highest levels of the U.S. military: “The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military…Frankly, ‘indirect’ may not be a full characterization of the way it really is, it is more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military,” Marine General James Dunford, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, relayed to a U.S. Senate Committee. “The technology that has developed in the civil world transfers to the military world…It’s a direct pipeline,” said former Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, dispelling any claims Google and other tech companies may have that their business ventures are only civilian in nature and not a boon to the Chinese military.
Another example Schweizer lays out is the “courtship of Beijing” by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Upon learning that Twitter was banned in China, Dorsey’s solution, Schweizer tells readers, was to “propose a censored form of Twitter that would conform with the ‘local laws’ of authoritarian governments.” In spite of its so-called commitment to free speech, Twitter’s acquiescence to the demands of Beijing has resulted in Twitter removing the accounts of several Chinese dissidents while leaving up tweets wherein Chinese party officials accused the U.S. military of being behind COVID-19. As Schweizer informs readers, Twitter even failed to remove tweets by Chinese officials denying human rights abuses against Uighurs and promoted tweets by government-run outlets furthering the Chinese propaganda.
Moving from the West Coast to the East Coast, Red Handed further demonstrates how the obsession by America’s elites to help China compete with the United States extends from California’s Silicon Valley to New York’s Wall Street. Indeed, Schweizer exposes how the big Wall Street firms are quick to bring the children of Chinese Communist Party officials into their companies. “It was reported that in 2013 Goldman [Sachs] had more than two dozen sons and daughters of high-ranking officials at the firm, including the grandson of [former Chinese President] Jiang Zemin….” Merrill Lynch, as Schweizer notes, “managed to snag the son-in-law of the second-highest-ranking Communist Party official at the time.”
Schweizer pays particular attention to the relationship that BlackRock, the biggest asset manager in the world, and its CEO Larry Fink has fostered with Beijing. Schweizer lays out several instances where Fink has (alarmingly) praised the Communist Party regime. “I would qualify the Chinese leadership as one of the best leadership teams in the world,” Fink told the Australian Financial Review of the Xi Jinping Administration. Schweizer further educates readers that in 2019, Fink reportedly told officials in Beijing that “BlackRock should be a Chinese company in China,” and has also reportedly declared “We firmly believe China will be one of the biggest opportunities for BlackRock.”
Importantly, Schweizer points out the astonishing fact of Fink’s relentless push for a woke leftwing agenda when it comes to American companies, even while he turns a blind-eye to the Chinese government’s atrocities and Uighur genocide. “While Fink has pushed for better governance of companies in the United States and the Western world, he has done the opposite in China. Indeed, in China, Fink has used BlackRock’s muscle to help the Communist Party consolidate control over companies,” Schweizer explains. As he points out, although BlackRock has been quick to argue for corporate responsibility in the U.S. when it comes to issues such as firearms, it has no problem owning shares in companies directly linked to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and those that directly support China’s military-civil fusion strategy. And despite China being the greatest contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions in the world, Fink has not held Chinese companies to any carbon emission reduction standards at all—let alone the ones he is attempting to foist onto U.S. companies.
Schweizer relays a concerning account of how, in 2017, the Chinese Communist Party pushed companies listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange to amend their corporate charters to make clear that the corporate boards would be required to seek advice from Communist Party committees in Beijing. This move would have even required corporate executives to serve as heads of internal Communist Party committees in their companies. Rather than pushing back against Beijing’s power grab, as Schweizer points out fellow investment firm Vanguard did, BlackRock voted in favor of the measure, no doubt in an attempt to gain greater access to the Chinese market and further line their pocketbooks.
Even liberal magnate George Soros, perhaps surprisingly, believes BlackRock’s foray into China has left the U.S. vulnerable. As Schweizer tells readers, “George Soros has called out BlackRock for its financial efforts in China, declaring that it is on the ‘wrong side’ of the struggle between Beijing and the West, and noted that BlackRock’s efforts ‘will damage the national security interests of the U.S. and other democracies.’” Now while this may be the epitome of the old adage about the “pot calling the kettle black,” it doesn’t make the sentiment any less true—and even adds to the alarm.
Schweizer continues his book by heading from Wall Street back down to Washington, DC, discussing the revolving door between foreign diplomats and their host governments. From Henry Kissinger to Madeleine Albright, to Condoleezza Rice, Red Handed lays out the many ways in which former U.S. Secretaries of State have been cashing in on their ties with Beijing forged at taxpayer expense. For instance, as Schweizer points out, “Albright was an essential player in the effort to bring China into the WTO.” Naively believing that permitting the Chinese Communist Party to enter the WTO would result in China “free[ing] itself from the ‘House that Mao Built,’ including state-run enterprises, central planning institutes, massive agricultural communes, and parasitic bureaucracies” as well as “more institutions and associations free from Communist Party control,” Schweizer concludes that Albright couldn’t have been more wrong. Albright’s miscalculation, however, did not stop her from opening a “strategic consulting” practice to profit from her time as the nation’s top diplomat. Her practice eventually grew into the Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG), whose largest practice area was, you guessed it, China. And leading its ASG China operation is none other than a former senior Chinese official who spent twenty years in the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
Next Schweizer reveals that no discussion of Chinese relations would be complete without an examination of the “The Bush and Trudeau Dynasties.” Red Handed explains that the Bush family’s ties to Beijing date back to 1974, when George H.W. Bush was appointed chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China, which served as the United States’ top representative to China before full diplomatic relations existed between the two countries. After serving 14 months in that role, Bush left to head the Central Intelligence Agency and would eventually become Vice President of the United States in 1981. During that time, Bush’s brother, Prescott, would begin engaging in a series of trips and business dealings in China, including one that included the creation of an international satellite communications network in China.
This would become incredibly important, as Schweizer tells readers, given Bush would later be faced with a decision as President to lift sanctions on the export of civilian satellite technologies to China. Prescott Bush happened to be making $250,000 per year as a consultant for the company financing the business building the Chinese-desired satellites. As you may have guessed, President Bush eventually granted the waiver while denying that it had anything to do with Prescott’s business dealings. Prescott would go on to help start the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce to “lobby for deeper commercial ties” between the countries. History would repeat itself when it comes to the Bushes, as Schweizer goes on to divulge the ways in which President George W. Bush’s brother, Neil, engaged in a series of Chinese business dealings during his presidency.
Last but not least, Red Handed explores the relationships between China and America’s system of higher education. As Schweizer explains, “[e]ntire institutions of higher learning in the United States are being influenced by the flow of money from China via large gifts from wealthy alumni linked to the mainland’s power structure.” Indeed, Schweizer recounts the story of how Alibaba cofounder and Yale graduate, Joe Tsai, donated $30 million to the China Center at Yale Law School, rebranding it the Paul Tsai China Center. Federal law requires American universities to disclose foreign donations to the Department of Education. Given there is no record of any donation from Tsai’s single U.S.-based foundation to Yale, the Education Department launched an investigation into Tsai’s gifts and foreign gifts Yale received from 2014 to 2017. As Schweizer informs readers, “What officials discovered was that Yale—over and above the Tsai donations—was not listing hundreds of millions of dollars of overseas gifts they had received, many of them from mainland China.” It’s no wonder that Yale and so many of America’s universities have such a pro-Beijing tone, refusing to criticize the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses and failing to notice the economic espionage occurring in their own laboratories.
Rounding out his book, Schweizer concludes Red Handed by proffering several much-needed suggestions for lawmakers to consider. These include passing laws on the following:
- Banning lobbying on behalf of Chinese military- and intelligence-linked companies;
- Banning Chinese military- and intelligence-linked companies from appearing on the American stock exchanges; and
- Banning joint research by American universities, investors, and corporations with Chinese military and intelligence projects.
Schweizer also provides some much-needed solutions for corporate America and the media to consider:
- Journalists need to openly ask questions about links to China;
- Media companies need to insist on truth and transparency when it comes to their experts;
- Wall Street firms need to consistently apply Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards to Chinese companies (*cough* Larry Fink); and
- Use shareholder activism to hold corporate executives to account.
While we at FEP think that a great many of the ESG proposals and initiatives pushed on American companies each year are inefficient, half-baked and even downright discriminatory and immoral, we certainly agree with Schweizer that the only thing worse than supporting such proposals here in the states is then to also refrain from applying them abroad, which is the habit of Fink and his cohort. It all begins to look very much like a carefully considered conspiracy against American interests.
In closing, Schweizer reminds readers that bipartisan cooperation is necessary if the United States is going to successfully push back against the Chinese Communist Party’s Uighur genocide, human rights abuses, and overall quest to dethrone the United States as the world’s superpower. As Schweizer points out, if former President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could find common ground on China, perhaps there’s hope after all.
Author: Sarah Rehberg