EXCLUSIVE: Harvard Center Hypes Chinese Communist Party Popularity While Receiving MILLIONS From Chinese Govt and CCP-Linked Companies


Harvard’s Ash Center, which recently published a report claiming the Chinese Communist Party enjoys record-high support, has deep ties to the Chinese government including million-dollar donors from Chinese state-owned enterprises, leaders with financial ties to China, and collaboration with Chinese universities to train Chinese Communist Party officials.

The July 2020 report “Understanding CCP Resilience: Surveying Chinese Public Opinion Through Time” contends that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is “as strong as ever” and “under no imminent threat of popular upheaval.”

“Chinese citizen satisfaction with government has increased virtually across the board,” the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation paper continues.

But the 18-page report omits references to events countering this narrative: ongoing Hong Kong protests, oppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, or even the party’s mishandling of coronavirus.

Harvard’s report was circulated widely by Chinese embassies, the CCP’s Foreign Ministry, and even state-run media outlets such as China Global Television Network (CGTN), which exploited the study to bolster its narrative the CCP enjoys widespread support.


Among the Ash Center’s donors are China Southern Power Grid Corp, which is wholly owned and operated by the Chinese Government, whose management is “directly appointed by China’s central government.”

Further donations come from New World China Enterprises Project, a Chinese company whose board is composed of virtually all CCP members. Its Chairman and Executive Director Cheng Kar-Shun, for example, served as a Standing Committee Member of the CCP’s Political Consultative Conference.

These financial ties grant the CCP at best influence and at worst coercion over the content of reports issued by the Ash Center. And the Ivy League university is already on the Department of Justice’s radar for failing to disclose millions in foreign gifts from China.

The study’s foreword contends “long-term, publicly-available, and nationally-representative surveys in mainland China are so rare” due to CCP constraints but provides little detail as to how it circumvented such restrictions or what capacity, if any, the Chinese government was involved.

Instead, buried in a single footnote: “The survey referenced in this brief was designed by the Harvard Ash Center for Democratic Innovation and implemented by a reputable domestic Chinese polling firm.”

The “reputable firm” is never named, nor is any evidence provided for this claim.

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The Ash Center’s Director is Anthony Saich, who in 2012 claimed China “is not really a threat to the U.S,” was a lead researcher of the study.

Per his Harvard biography, Saich appears to have business interests in China as an “adviser” to a “wide range of government, private, and nonprofit organizations on work in China”:

Saich first visited China as a student in 1976 and continues to visit each year. Currently, he is a guest professor at the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University, China. He also advises a wide range of government, private, and nonprofit organizations on work in China and elsewhere in Asia.

One such example is Saich’s position as an independent director and trustee of AMC Entertainment, an American movie theatre chain that was notoriously subsumed by China’s Dalian Wanda Group Corp.

Saich is also a trustee member of the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR), a pro-China lobby group whose president routinely appears on state-run media to, for example, attack critics of China’s entrance to the World Trade Organization, responsible for the loss of millions of American jobs, as “fundamentally wrong.”

He also believes that fears of Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the primary avenue whereby the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) takes control of U.S. companies and engages in intellectual property theft, are an “overreaction.”

He’s even received awards from the CCP.

In 2014, he received the Magnolia Silver Award from Shanghai Municipal People’s Government “in recognition of contribution to Shanghai’s development” and was granted the highest academic award, the Chang Jiang Scholarship at Tsinghua University, from the Ministry of Education from 2006 to 2009.

Another contributor to the study, Edward Cunningham, identifies himself as “an advisor to private and publicly listed companies in the energy, environmental, and financial services sectors.”

According to his resume, Cunningham received $2.3 million from China Southern Power Grid Corp, controlled and funded by the CCP, along with $3.9 million from the Tianfu Group, a China-based, billion-dollar management company “established under the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) approval” that lists several state-owned enterprises as “partners” and CCP apparatchiks as board members.

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Such financial ties call into question the Ash Center’s to report objectively on the same government that gate-keeps many of the business deals the center’s lead researchers appear to be involved with.


The Ash Center hosted the “China’s Leaders in Development Program” for over a decade, beginning in 2001.

The program describes itself as “widely recognized by the Chinese government as one of the best overseas training programs for government officials.”

“Taught both at Tsinghua University, China, and Harvard Kennedy School, this multi weeks training program is specifically designed to help prepare senior local and central Chinese government officials to more effectively address the ongoing challenges of China’s national reforms,” the summary continues.

Beyond collaborating with a university that has attempted to hack the U.S. government, the program brings Harvard professors’ prestigious advice to senior leaders from the brutal CCP, handpicked by the party’s own Organization Department of the Central Committee. Several years, members of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp, which has been identified as an “instrument of repression” against Uighurs by the Washington Post, have joined the delegation.

2011 CCP/Harvard Conference

What’s more, the program connected CCP apparatchiks with meetings at the U.S. State Department, Food and Drug Administration, and even the U.S. Congress, as the program’s description notes “officials visit local, state, and federal government organizations in the United States.”

Also included were the Cohen Group, a consulting firm started former Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton William Cohen and boasting General James Mattis as a principal advisor. The Washington Post was also visited by the delegation.

The program, ceased in 2014, now collaborates with the University of Cambridge, but the Ash Center retains two programs explicitly meant to assist CCP officials.

The Shanghai Executive Management Program “aims to provide senior officials in Shanghai municipal government agencies with perspectives on strategy, leadership, management of service delivery, urban planning and development, crisis management, and social policy.”

The China Leaders in Finance Program is “for senior executives from China’s banking sector,” which is predominantly state-owned.

A bastion of social justice, Harvard’s financial and business ties to an oppressive, racist, and neocolonialist regime account for a blistering display of hypocrisy.

Natalie Winters

Natalie Winters is freelance reporter.

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