Agence France PresseThe Chinese government launched a covert operation in 1996 in a bid to influence the US political process and gain wide access to officeholders through political donations, a US Senate panel has concluded.
August 11, 2001
China channeled donations to US politicians in 1996By Maxim Kniazkov
The conclusion is contained in a report quietly released by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. It went largely unnoticed until Friday, when the Federation of American Scientists publicized it on its website.
The Senate probe was prompted by allegations that China had tried to funnel 300,000 dollars into the 1996 reelection campaign of former president Bill Clinton through Democratic Party fundraiser Johnny Chung.
The goal of the Senate investigation was to determine whether Chung had acted as part of a concerted effort by Beijing's intelligence services to buy favors with US politicians.
"The answer to that question, the committee concluded, was: Yes," the report stated flatly.
According to the document, Chinese officials decided to find a way to rebuild their relations with US politicians in 1995, when the Clinton administration granted an entry visa to then Taiwanese president Lee Tung-hui.
The visit irked Beijing so much that Chinese officials produced what US investigators refer to as the "China Plan," a covert operation designed "to influence the US political process favorably."
"The existence of this plan is substantiated by the body of evidence ... including intelligence reports," the committee said.
China views Taiwan as a renegade island and vehemently protests even private trips by Taiwanese officials to the United States.
The plan put together by the People's Republic of China (PRC) "applied to various political office holders or candidates at the local, state, and federal level," according to the report.
"There is intelligence information indicating PRC officials provided funds to US political campaigns," said the document.
However, the committee found no evidence of any direct Chinese attempt to influence a member of the US Congress. And "there is no intelligence information indicating that contributions had any influence on US policy or the US political process, or that any recipients knew the contributions were from a foreign source," the report said.
Chung told US investigators that Liu Chaoying, daughter of a prominent Chinese general, served as the channel through which he received Chinese government funds destined for the donations -- which, emanating from a foreign government, would be illegal under US law.
China has strongly denied the allegations, and the US Democratic National Committee said any such donations had been returned.
But it now appears that Chung was not the only actor in the game.
"There is also reporting regarding contributions from other sources made to a Republican candidate for state office and a Republican state office holder," said the committee.
None of the officials was identified by name.
Copyright 2001 Agence France Presse