China’s recent proposition to foster economic ties with Democrat-led cities in the United States, such as San Francisco and New York City, has raised eyebrows and concerns about the underlying motives of this strategic move. The Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), led by President Yang Wanming, has expressed a keen interest in developing collaborations with these regions. This initiative, as reported by the South China Morning Post and other state-backed media outlets, seeks to promote regional economic development and mutual benefits.
Yang Wanming’s statements about the “vast room” for collaboration between the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area and the San Francisco and New York City areas have been highlighted in these reports. However, this announcement has coincided with increasing global apprehensions about China’s intentions and methods in its international relations, especially given the backdrop of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The committee’s report, which outlines a comprehensive strategy to address the economic and technological rivalry between the U.S. and China, emphasizes the need for vigilance against Beijing’s attempts to gain the upper hand, particularly in technology and intellectual property. The pursuit of closer economic ties with specific U.S. cities, particularly those led by Democrats, can be seen as a strategic maneuver by China to create divisions within the United States and to leverage these relationships for political and economic gain.
Of course they do.
China has a habit of providing economic benefits, and then using them to blackmail the beneficiaries. While San Francisco and New York are some of the largest most powerful cities in the world, China’s economy and ability to bestow riches dwarfs them. In return for economic benefits they have demanded absolute information control and access to ethnic Chinese who can be blackmailed with threats to relatives in China. Also Chinese spies already have freedom of movement in the U.S. and will have more access and more influence. Some examples:
President Xi Jinping’s message during the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and China sheds light on China’s approach to “weathering the storms” and moving forward for mutual benefit. However, this message stands in stark contrast to the concerns raised about China’s global ambitions and practices. The focus on fostering people-to-people ties and subnational cooperation, as indicated by Yang Wanming’s remarks, could be interpreted as an attempt to bypass national-level scrutiny and gain influence directly at local levels.
This approach is not new to China’s diplomatic playbook. Beijing has previously emphasized the importance of cultivating non-governmental and local-level interactions with the U.S., particularly ahead of high-profile summits. The emphasis on “subnational cooperation” and “people-to-people interaction” as a way to reinvigorate China-U.S. relations could be part of a broader strategy to create economic dependencies and influence at the local level, which can be leveraged for broader geopolitical objectives.
This could be considered a violation of the Logan Act, and policies enacted in the streets of New York and San Francisco would be difficult to turn on a national basis.
Moreover, the timing of this initiative, amidst heightened tensions and strategic competition between the U.S. and China, adds a layer of complexity to the interpretation of China’s motives. The use of economic collaboration as a tool for political influence is a concern that cannot be overlooked. The proposal to establish closer ties with Democrat-led cities might be viewed as a calculated move to exploit political divisions within the U.S. and to subtly assert China’s influence and agenda.
While the prospect of economic collaboration between Chinese regions and U.S. cities presents opportunities for mutual benefit, it is imperative to consider the broader geopolitical implications and potential hidden agendas. China’s track record of using economic ties to further its strategic interests warrants a cautious approach to any such collaborations.
Those of us who try to keep an eye on China smell a rat, and see the potential for additional influence that would weaken our Federal Government. Given that it is likely that we will have a Republican president in the next election, it is a sinister move that could be effective.