China’s Shift Towards California’s Gold Mountain
China’s Shift Towards California’s Gold Mountain by William Craddick – disObedient Media
The relationship between China and the West Coast of the United States has steadily grown for more than a century and a half. Chinese immigrants departed en mass to seek fortune in California’s Gold Rush and provided the muscle for the Union Pacific during the construction of the Transcontinental Railway. In recent history however, China’s involvement in California has taken on a new form. The increased involvement of Chinese funding of politicians, a shift in Chinese organized crime in California towards pro-Beijing factions and an increase in open diplomatic accommodation of the Chinese government all raise questions about China’s long term goals in the Golden State.
I. Increasing Chinese Political Investments In California
As China’s economy has grown over the past several decades, so too have donations and support for political figures in California. The increase in Chinese financial support has been accompanied by accusations of impropriety, as multiple California politicians have been found to be accepting potentially illegal gifts or donations.
A. San Francisco
San Francisco’s mayor Ed Mah Lee (李孟賢) has a history of financial support from Chinese interests, as well as the open endorsement of public figures in the city with established ties to the Communist Party of China (CCP). In August 2016, The Intercept reported that Lee was a noted beneficiary of Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen, a married Chinese couple residing in Singapore. Tang and Chen were also major supporters of 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, donating $1.3 million to Bush’s Right to Rise USA Super PAC. A complaint was filed with the Federal Election Committee over the donations to Bush. Tang has a notable history of investments in the United States, but has also fielded controversy as well. When contacted by a journalist from The Intercept, Tang offered a bribe of $200,000 in return for an omission of the fact that Chinese language news sites accuse Tang of participating in smuggling, tax evasion, and bribery in the Guangdong Province of China.
Lee also enjoyed long-time support from recently-deceased San Francisco figure Rose Pak (白兰). Pak served as an executive director of the China Overseas Exchange Association (中国海外交流协会), a foreign affairs group under the direction of China’s State Council Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (国务院侨务办公室). In the past, Pak has consistently advocated for pro CCP policies, including marginalizing Falun Gong practitioners and appearing at anti-Japanese protests during tensions between Japan and China over the Diaoyu Islands. San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly directly accused Pak of improperly acting as an agent of the Chinese government. Local news source SFGate noted that Daly met with the FBI to discuss Pak’s ties to China in 2006. In 2013, SFGate also reported that three complaints were filed over a trip that Ed Lee took with Pak to China where Lee was the benefactor of a number of potentially illegal gifts totaling $18,000 to cover expenses.