A foundation started by the late President George H.W. Bush’s son, Neil Bush, bearing his name is being bankrolled by a firm linked to China’s communist government, known officially as the Communist Party of China.
A report by Axios revealed the George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations, chaired and founded by Neil Bush in 2017, is raking in a $5 million grant from 2019 to 2023 from the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), which has ties to China’s communist government.
Tax filings covering May through December of 2019 show the Bush China Foundation brought in a total of under $1.2 million in contributions, meaning CUSEF’s donations would likely comprise a substantial portion of its revenue.
The Hong Kong-based CUSEF is run by the city’s former chief executive, Tung Chee-Hwa. It calls itself “an independent, non-profit and non-governmental foundation.”
Tung is also the vice-chair of a Beijing-based advisory body that promotes the Chinese Communist Party’s political aims, which is chaired by a Politburo official who plays a leading role in Beijing’s “united front” global influence campaign.
CUSEF’s ties to the Chinese communist government have been widely documented.
In 2018, for instance, Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Mike McCaul (R-TX) wrote to Texas university presidents warning of CUSEF’s influence on campuses in the state, noting the firm’s intentions are “to spread China’s political agenda, suppress academic debate, and steal vital academic research.”
A year earlier, the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) was notably blasted for taking funds from CUSEF to bankroll “a new endowed professorship in the China Studies department as well as a new research project called the Pacific Community Initiative,” Foreign Policy reported at the time:
While CUSEF representatives stress that it is not an agent of the Chinese Communist Party, the foundation has cooperated on projects with the the People’s Liberation Army and uses the same Washington public relations firm that the Chinese Embassy does. [Emphasis added]
Exchanges and partnerships are not CUSEF’s only initiatives. As a registered foreign agent, in 2016 it spent just under $668,000 on lobbying, hiring the Podesta Group and other firms to lobby Congress on the topic of “China-U.S. relations.” The foundation has spent $510,000 on lobbying to date in 2017. [Emphasis added]
Likewise, the Jamestown Foundation detailed CUSEF’s ties to China’s communist government in a September 2020 report.
“CUSEF is indeed a major player in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s organizational apparatus for conducting united front work in the United States,” the conservative group writes:
The membership of the CUSEF board of governors is filled with other persons in the CCP’s Hong Kong united front infrastructure, to include those who hold (or have held in the recent past) positions in the PRC state or CPPCC apparatus. To cite but one example, Liu Changle (刘长乐) spent his early career in the PRC’s military media and propaganda system, and in 1996 founded Phoenix Television as a satellite news channel in Hong Kong. Phoenix is partially owned by the PRC state broadcaster CCTV, and is known for its reliably pro-CCP coverage. Liu serves as a standing committee member of the current 13th National Committee of the CPPCC, and was also a member of the previous 10th, 11th, and 12th CPPCCs (CUSEF, undated). [Emphasis added]
The identity of the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation—that of a nominally private entity, which in actuality functions as a de facto front organization for the PRC government—allows it to play a valuable role in Beijing’s efforts to sway public opinion and build influence in America. CUSEF’s extensive contracts with U.S. lobbying and public relations firms—contracts involving both sums and a breadth of activities difficult to reconcile with those of a genuine non-profit civic foundation—represent a sort of “lobbying laundering,” in which a nominally independent third-party organization acts as a primary agent for funding and managing lobbying efforts on behalf of the PRC. Coming to a fuller understanding of these disguised and well-funded efforts to sway both elite opinion and U.S. government policy will be a vital component of coming to grips with the CCP’s broader influence efforts directed at the United States, as well as the wider world. [Emphasis added]
In response to the Axios report, a spokesperson for the George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations said the organization is “proud” of their funding from CUSEF and defended the firm’s ties to China’s communist government, stating “we do not buy into that narrative.”
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter here.