President Joe Biden’s Ambassador to China headlined an event sponsored by the U.S.-China Heartland Association (USCHA), a Chinese Communist Party-linked foreign influence group targeting American farmers and farmland.
Ambassador Nick Burns – who worked for consulting firms representing the Chinese regime prior to joining the White House – addressed the recent U.S.-China High-Level Agricultural Dialogue hosted by the U.S.-China Heartland Association (USCHA).
Founded by former Democrat Governor of Missouri Bob Holden, the USHCA purports to be a “bipartisan organization committed to building stronger ties between the USHCA Region (20 states located in the USA between the Great Lakes to the Gulf) and the People’s Republic of China.”
“Our focus will be on Trust Building efforts connecting government officials; business leaders; educational and community interests with like-minded institutions between the Heartland Region and the People’s Republic of China,” the group’s mission statement euphemizes.
The USHCA, however, appears to be used by several Chinese Communist Party-controlled organizations to gain access to American agricultural officials and company representatives. This includes sponsoring trips to China for Americans, often in exchange for “favorable coverage” and lucrative deals.
Among the Chinese Communist Party influence groups that collaborate with USHCA are the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) and China United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), both of which are part of Beijing’s United Front Work Department.
The United Front Work Department is a billion-dollar operation executed by the Chinese Communist Party seeking “to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party” and “influence foreign individuals and the policies of foreign states to serve Beijing’s interests,” according to the federal U.S.-China Security and Economic Review Commission.
The U.S. State Department also compares the United Front to the Chinese regime’s “magic weapon” to advance its preferred policies.
“Close to 200 high-level participants, including an array of governmental, educational, national and international agri-business leaders attended this dialogue,” explains a summary of the event’s attendees headlined by Ambassador Burns.
Despite these ties, Ambassador Burns was a featured speaker alongside his Chinese Communist Party counterparts.
He used his speech to urge for more collaboration between China and the U.S. on agricultural endeavors, insisting “Agriculture is going to be priority for me as it is for our president as it is for Secretary [Tom] Vilsack.”
“Maintaining a constructive relationship on agriculture with the People’s Republic is going to be very important for the overall bilateral relationship,” he continued.
Ambassador Burns’s participation in the event follows the USHCA and other farming-focused Chinese Communist Party influence groups increasing their overtures towards American farmers amidst ongoing supply chain issues.