United Airlines – which recently announced a diversity quota for its pilots – has repeatedly subsidized travel for American high school students participating in a Chinese Communist Party-backed propaganda effort to encouraging them to “take actions or adopt positions supportive of Beijing’s preferred policies,” The National Pulse can reveal.
The group – the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) – was founded by the Vice-Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which has been identified as the “highest-ranking entity overseeing” China’s United Work Front according to the U.S.-China Security and Economic Review Commission.
The effort, according to the U.S. government report, aims to “to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party” and “influence overseas Chinese communities, foreign governments, and other actors to take actions or adopt positions supportive of Beijing’s preferred policies.”
CUSEF has implemented these strategies extensively, as Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) filings with the Department of Justice reveal a campaign to “effectively disseminate positive messages to the media, key influencers and opinion leaders, and the general public”
The National Pulse has previously revealed CUSEF sponsoring trips to China for mainstream corporate media outlets in exchange for “favorable coverage” and for current and former elected U.S. officials “chosen based on their […] open-minded perspective to China.”
And CUSEF also targeted American high school students from the Chicago Urban League, and United Airlines was ready to aid and abet their efforts.
What’s more, United Airlines attempted to use their sponsorship of students’ flights as a publicity stunt, authoring a press release entitled “United Airlines Teams Up with the Chicago Urban League to Fly Local Students to China.”
“United Airlines and the Chicago Urban League, along with the China-United States Exchange Foundation, is leading Chicago high school students on an educational, cultural and social trip through China,” the 2015 statement, which also appears on United Airlines’ website, began.
The airline even had students pose with a United Airlines banner reading “Proud of the connections we make locally and around the globe” and identifying the company as the “official airline of the Chicago Urban League’s Mission to China.”
United Airlines executives also praised the “once-in-a-lifetime” program, including executive vice president and general counsel Brett Hart:
“As a global airline, we connect people with places and experiences every day, but as Chicago’s hometown airline, it is especially meaningful to connect this group of amazing students with this once-in-a-lifetime trip.”
“For the third year in a row, the Chicago Urban League is partnering with United Airlines and CUSEF and it was an initiative that set out to create better relationships between the United States and China particularly with the youth,” added Lauren Love, manager of external affairs for Chicago Urban League, in 2015.
CUSEF has sponsored similar trips for college-level students, and testimonials from the group’s website reveal participants praising China as an “amazing communist country”:
“I learned that the culture and history of China far exceeds those of the United States – exceeds it so well, it’s predicted that China will be the #1 country of foreign policy and investments in less than 20 years. Open your eyes and your mind, research for yourself and don’t be corrupted by the misinterpretation the classrooms feed us.
God knew that I needed to participate in this program. He saw me fit to be one of the 20 students that will help spread the positive light of an amazing communist country as well as help bridge that gap between the China-US cultural exchanges.”
The unearthed CUSEF-United Airlines connection follows the airline promising that at least half of the pilots they train over the next decade will be women or people of color. “Over the next decade, United will train 5,000 pilots who will be guaranteed a job with United, after they complete the requirements of the Aviate program – and our plan is for half of them to be women and people of color,” asserted United CEO Scott Kirby.