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William Burns, Candidate to Head the CIA, Presides Over Chinese-Funded Institutions

William Burns, Joe Biden, China

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William Burns, Joe Biden’s nominee to be head of the CIA, continues to raise eyebrows. The conservative media Daily Caller published an investigation detailing the close ties with China by a think tank he chairs.

“William J. Burns, the nominee for CIA director, is the chairman of a prominent think tank that has received as much as $2 million in recent years from a Chinese businessman and a group of experts with ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” the investigation highlights.

According to the Daily Caller, Burns, as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, invited nearly a dozen Congressional staffers to attend a trip to China, where they met with a Communist Party operative and a chairman of a Chinese front group.

“Burns, who was paid $540,580 last year as Carnegie’s president, will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee for a confirmation hearing likely to be held this month. He has been Carnegie’s president since March 2015,” the report explained.

Burns’ ties to China begin with Chinese businessman Zhang Yichen, who joined the Carnegie board during the tenure of Biden’s nominee to head the CIA.

“We are very fortunate to have Zhang Yichen on our council,” Burns said in a statement in October 2016. “I look forward to working with him to make Carnegie an even better institution.”

Zhang, who is CEO of CITIC Consulting, a China-based investment firm, donated between $500,000 and $999,999,999 to Carnegie from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, according to Carnegie’s website. In addition, he gave between $250,000 and $549,999 in fiscal 2020, according to Carnegie’s 2020 annual report.

Zhang, the Caller’s research reads, is a member of two organizations linked to the Chinese Communist Party, according to his biography in CITIC Capital: the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the Center for China and Globalization.

“The CPPCC is a Chinese Communist Party advisory group affiliated with China’s united front system, which promotes Chinese government initiatives abroad,” the research explains. “It is described on a Chinese embassy website as “a united front organization under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and an organ for other political parties, mass organizations and personalities from various social circles to participate in the management of the state.”

jefe de la CIA, Biden, China
China’s Vice President Li Yuanchao (R) and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (L) pose for a photo as they shake hands during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, 22 January 2014. (EFE)

In addition, the Center for China and Globalization, where Zhang serves as senior vice president, “is a Beijing-based think tank also linked to the Communist apparatus.”

According to the Caller, “Zhang’s donations to Carnegie helped fund the Beijing-based Carnegie-Tsinghua Center, according to Carnegie’s 2018 annual report, which was formed in 2010 in partnership with Tsinghua University, one of China’s leading technological universities.”

A Carnegie spokesperson told the conservative media outlet that Zhang has provided general support funding for the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center’s operations.

“His funding does not underwrite research projects or support work in the U.S.,” the spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

On the other hand, the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center has linked with the Center for China and Globalization to “organize forums on U.S.-China relations.”

In May 2018, Senator Marco Rubio, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, “raised concerns that Wang Huiyao, the president of the Center for China and Globalization, was to speak at an event hosted by the Wilson Center, another U.S. think tank,” the investigation reads. “Rubio cited Wang’s position at the United Front Work Department, which he said Chinese President Xi Jinping had described as one of the Communist regime’s ‘magic weapons.'”

Carnegie, the foundation Burns chairs, “has also received funding from the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), a Hong Kong-based think tank that is also part of the united front system.”

CUSEF donated between $100,000 and $249,999 to Carnegie in 2015 and the same amount between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, according to archived versions in Carnegie’s donor page.

A Carnegie spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation that CUSEF funding ended in 2017.

The research adds that CUSEF has come under increased scrutiny in recent years because of its ties to the united front system and the Chinese Communist regime.

“According to the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank run by retired U.S. intelligence officers, CUSEF is “a major player in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) organizational apparatus for carrying out united front work in the United States,” the investigation notes. According to the September 16h report, CUSEF’s lobbying activities in the United States “enable it to play a valuable role in Beijing’s efforts to influence public opinion and the United States.”

In addition, several U.S. consulting firms disclose their work for CUSEF to the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

“According to an August 24, 2018 report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a Congressionally appointed commission, CUSEF has shown a “clear intent to influence policy toward China in the United States and other countries,”” the Caller also states.

China’s relationship with Carnegie doesn’t end there. Maurice Greenberg, a billionaire who was awarded China’s Reform Friendship Medal by Xi Jinping in December 2018, the highest honor Beijing bestows on foreigners, “is a major backer of Carnegie,” the conservative media outlet noted.

“Greenberg’s Starr Foundation gave at least $1 million to Carnegie, according to a list of donors to the think tank” chaired by Burns.

Carnegie, in addition, provided to China Global Television Network (CGTN), a news organization controlled by the Communist regime, “access to its various foreign policy experts.”

Carnegie, in short, is a group that has openly worked to improve China-U.S. relations through “diplomacy.” For example, it “organized a trip for Congressional staff to Beijing in November 2019 to meet with Chinese academics, journalists, business leaders, and government officials.”

William Burns signed the letters of invitation to the group of staffers on the trip, there he explained that the goal was to create a “thoughtful bipartisan dialogue on U.S.-China relations,” according to documents filed with Congress.

Burns, far beyond China

Joe Biden’s CIA chief appointee not only has ties to China, but also ties to Iran, especially for his role in the failed Iran nuclear deal.

In an earlier issue of El American we read: “William Burns, a career diplomat, is Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency. During the Obama era he conducted secret talks to achieve the nuclear deal and condemned Soleimani’s death as a ‘major strategic setback.'”

These ties by William Burns, first to Iran and then China are troubling, considering how Iranian, Chinese and U.S. foreign policy has been conducted over the past five years.

With the outgoing Trump Administration, the distance and confrontation was clear, and it seems that with the incoming administration the situation will be diametrically different,

Hunter Biden’s business dealings with the energy company CEFC China Enery, the links of Joe Biden’s advisors with the Chinese Communist Party Army and now the relationship of the CIA candidate, William Burns with China, are all situations that do not go unnoticed when there is still the question of what the current government will do regarding the Chinese regime.

Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.

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