President Biden’s nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who formerly served as the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, falsely claimed he cut ties with a Chinese Communist Party “not long after” he joined the think tank.
The nominee, William Burns, told Senator Marco Rubio that he “inherited” the think tank’s relationship with the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) but cut ties with the group “not long after” he began during his confirmation hearing.
Burns, who joined the think tank in 2014, however, continued the think tank’s involvement with CUSEF.
CUSEF – part of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front effort that seeks to “co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition” and encourage foreign actors to “adopt positions supportive of Beijing’s preferred policies” – has had a close relationship with the Carnegie Endowment since 2009, including sponsoring trips for Chinese Communist Party officials to speak at the think tank.
The Daily Caller notes, however, that “CUSEF’s last donation to Carnegie was in 2017, according to a spokesperson for Carnegie and its 2018 annual report.”
And Tung Chee-hwa, the founding chairman of CUSEF, also visited the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in March 2017 – both events occurring three years after Burns joined the think tank.
A host of Carnegie Endowment leaders – including Vice President Douglas Paal – have also contributed to CUSEF’s quarterly journal, China-US Focus throughout Burns’s tenure.
Since 2014, individuals including Senior Associate Yukon Huang, Resident Scholar Matt Ferchen, and Resident Scholar Wang Tao, have contributed at least six articles to the magazine alongside Chinese Communist Party officials and People’s Liberation Army leaders.
What’s more, the center Beijing-based Carnegie-Tsinghua Center continued to operate under Burns’s leadership.
The center features seven individuals who work at the Chinese government-funded university as its guiding scholars – Shi Zhiqin, Sun Xuefeng, Zhao Kejin, Tang Xiaoyang, Chen Qi, Zhang Lihua, and Zhang Chuanjie – and counts senior fellows with explicit ties to the Chinese Communist Party such as Tong Zhao who “has worked for the Office of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality” and Yan Xuetong, a “member of the Consultation Committee of China’s Ministry of Commerce.”
“A Chinese businessman who serves on one of the communist party’s advisory boards joined Carnegie as a trustee. Zhang Yichen, the businessman, also donated between $750,000 and $1,550,000 to the think tank,” the Daily Caller also noted, revealing that Burns insisted “we are very fortunate to have Zhang Yichen on our board” in October 2016 when Zhang joined Carnegie.