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A Sunday guest essay in the New York Times from a Dr. Wang Huiyao submits that the People’s Republic of China can play a key role in brokering a peace agreement in the ongoing war Russia is waging against Ukraine. Wang is a Chinese Communist Party propagandist, but the Times failed to disclose his affiliation despite its obvious relevance to his making an argument that would increase Beijing’s prestige on the world stage.
“Securing a multilateral resolution to the crisis in Ukraine will be a tough and risky challenge, but there is no country better placed to do so than China,” writes Wang, who admits to the increasingly close relationship between his country and Vladimir Putin’s, but also asserts that “China deeply values the principle of state sovereignty and has long opposed outside interference in what it considers internal affairs such as Taiwan.”
The kind of conflation he makes between Taiwan and Ukraine is a telling one. In it, he casts Western countries and their support for Taiwan’s functional independence in the Russian/aggressor role and China in the Ukrainian/defensive role when, in reality, any armed conflict involving Taiwan would begin with a Chinese attack.
The reason for Wang’s sleight of hand becomes clear in the context of his work for the United Front Work Department of the CCP, a group that Chinese president Xi Jinping has called a “magic weapon” and whose goal, according to Hudson Institute senior fellow Jonas Parello-Plesner, is to “make the world safe for continued Communist Party rule in China,” by “quelling dissenting and negative voices at home and abroad.”
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As Parello-Plesner has argued, the United Front has been effective at infiltrating and influencing the political, academic, and media spheres of countries like Australia and New Zealand.
The United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, an independent agency of the American Government, stated in a 2018 report that “the challenges posed by the CCP’s United Front operations to the United States are significant.” The report specifically referenced Wang, refuting the idea that he was not a state actor, and concluded that “improved transparency and oversight—combined with an increased understanding of the United Front—hold great promise for countering the most subversive and anti-democratic of the CCP’s influence operations.”
A 2020 White House report observed that “Beijing has intervened in sovereign nations’ internal affairs to engineer consent for its policies,” before going on to note that “CCP United Front organizations and agents target businesses, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state, and Federal officials in the United States and around the world, attempting to influence discourse and restrict external influence inside the PRC.”
Knowledge of Wang’s work for United Front should help readers make sense of his arguments for letting China take a leading role in the present crisis — to exclude China would be, in Wang’s words, “foolish and shortsighted” — but it should also raise questions about why the Times neglected to disclose Wang’s role with United Front. Instead of noting his direct affiliations with the Chinese government, the Times originally identified him as the founder and president of “a nongovernmental think tank based in Beijing,” only later adding that “he advises the Chinese government in that capacity.”
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© 2022 National Review
The New York Times Publishes Chinese Communist Party Propagandist without Disclosure – National Review