China simply takes a leaf out of US book

In promoting China-friendly views, a foundation set up by former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa is only doing what the US has been doing here for years

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 1:41am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 1:41am

The influential Foreign Policy journal has just told how funding from China has infiltrated some of the most prestigious policy research institutes in the US with the aim of changing public opinion and promoting China-friendly views.

At the centre of what is described as “a united front” effort is, the report says, none other than our former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. It makes it sound like the China-United States Exchange Foundation, founded by Tung in 2008, has secretly funded a new endowed professorship in the China studies department at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, as well as a new research project called the Pacific Community Initiative.

Money from the foundation has also gone to funding influential think tanks such as the Brookings Institution, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the Atlantic Council, the Centre for American Progress, the EastWest Institute, the Carter Centre, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Former Hong Kong leader asks city to look at bigger picture for China’s development

Tung is described as a billionaire with close ties to Beijing. In the words of the journal, “Tung currently serves as the vice-chairman of one of the united front’s most important entities – the so-called Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which is one of China’s two rubber-stamp assemblies. The body is one of Beijing’s most crucial tentacles for extending influence”.

None of this is secret though, as you can read all about it in the foundation’s website and published reports. Tung has long declared it a personal mission to promote a better Sino-US relationship.

How are efforts like Tung’s any different than those of US groups such as the National Endowment for Democracy and the National Democratic Institute?

The endowment says it has provided funds to promote democratic norms and values in China, including Tibet and Xinjiang, and other countries. It had projects in Hong Kong totalling US$695,031 in 2013 alone, and has funded civic groups and researchers for many years. It proudly announced it sponsored and hosted “democracy advocates” Martin Lee Chu-ming and Anson Chan Fang On-sang during their visit to the US in 2014.

Both US groups with close ties to the American government have denied playing any part in the Occupy protests of 2014.

If Americans can do it in Hong Kong and the mainland, surely Chinese can do the same in the US. After all, Tung is promoting friendship, not anti-American propaganda?