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Chinese spies could target the Biden administration, experts warn

A Chinese national flag waves at the Chinese consulate after the United States ordered China to close its doors on July 22, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
A Chinese national flag waves at the Chinese consulate after the United States ordered China to close its doors on July 22, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (SBG) - A bombshell report from Axios about a Chinese spy ingratiating herself to several politicians, including at least one U.S. Congressman, raised questions about who else could be vulnerable to the prowess of the Chinese Communist Party.

According to the report, Christina Fang (or Fang Fang), an operative for China’s Ministry of State Security, entered the country as a student in 2011. According to Axios, through charisma and the creation of personal relationships, she got close to several elected officials and political campaigns in the mid-2010s. Fang allegedly engaged in at least two romantic affairs through her network building to gain access to sensitive material.Fang also got close to Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., before his election to Congress in 2012. She maintained her closeness with Swalwell after his election, even working on his reelection campaign in 2014. She even placed an intern in his office, according to the Axios report.

Swalwell said the Federal Bureau of Investigations approached him in 2015 after Fang had infiltrated his inner circle, alerting him to concerns they had about her intentions and the close relationship she was building. Axios reported that Swalwell cut ties with Fang after the FBI's briefing and is not accused of any wrongdoing.

Fang left the country in 2015 after the FBI investigation into her activities persuaded her to return to China. Reportedly, her years of effort and networking in the United States did not achieve access to classified intelligence to influence political decisions tasked to her. But the breach of trust and security raised concern about just what the Chinese Communist Party could be capable of.

Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow for Chinese, Political, and Security Affairs at the Heritage Foundation, said the CCP can exercise tremendous patience in their counter-intelligence efforts.

“The Chinese have a very long-term approach. You never know which seeds you plant today might come to fruition 20, 30, 40 years from now,” Cheng told Sinclair. “So it's totally not surprising that the Chinese would do several things: send young people to the United States, both to get an education, but also to make friends and contacts, to keep in touch with those contacts as much as possible to foster developments with mayors, city councilmen, state legislators in the expectation that 10, 20, 30 years from now, you could become a U.S. Representative, a U.S. Senator, or perhaps you become President of the United States.”

Director of National Intelligence’s counter-intelligence chief William Evanina said China’s influence campaign on the incoming Biden administration was “on steroids.”

“We've also seen an uptick, which was planned, and we predicted, that China would now re-vector their influence campaigns to the new [Biden] administration,” Evanina said during the virtual discussion.

"And when I say that, that malign foreign influence, that diplomatic influence plus, or on steroids, we're starting to see that play across the country to not only the folks starting in the new administration, but those who are around those folks in the new administration.”

President Donald Trump and Biden made China a key topic during their final presidential debate, and both prepared with personal accusations about improper dealings with China.

Biden brought up a report that Trump had a bank account in China and even paid more than $188,000 in taxes in the country. Trump defended the account, saying he “was a businessman doing business.”

"I have many bank accounts, and they’re all listed, and they’re all over the place,” Trump said.

Cheng told Sinclair that President-elect Joe Biden could face unique Chinese challenges and that it seemed unlikely he had never been targeted by Chinese intelligence.

“Vice President Biden has spent 40 plus years in Washington,” Cheng said. “He was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for an enormously long time. If he hasn't been targeted, the Chinese have been frankly incompetent.”

Biden’s plan for U.S.-China relations has been criticized for being scant in detail. However, he has said he would recruit allied nations in Europe and other places to unite in pressuring China to reform economically.

The president has been similarly criticized for his approach to China, which included stiff tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese products. Biden and his advisors have been vocal critics of Trump's strong-arm approach to China, characterizing it as unstrategic and costly.

But Biden’s policy plan for dealing with China regarding their alleged human rights violations and suppression of speech has been much harder to pin down.

Hunter Biden could also be a subject of vulnerability for Chinese influence, Cheng said. The younger Biden served on the board of a Chinese private equity fund, reportedly holding a 10% stake. Accusations that Joe Biden may have also profited from Hunter’s business in China have continued to swirl, but no substantial evidence shows the elder Biden ever benefited from China.

Hunter disclosed on Wednesday that he was being investigated by the U.S. District Attorney in Delaware regarding his "tax affairs." In a statement published through Joe Biden's transition office, Hunter expressed optimism that the issue would be resolved.

"I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors."

Stories about Hunter’s past issues with drug addiction and philandering, acknowledged by both Bidens, could also make the family more vulnerable to influence, Cheng said.

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“Hunter Biden, from all accounts, has had a lot of personal problems.,” Cheng said. “That is the sort of thing that is absolutely exploited by intelligence agencies around the world, not just the Chinese, but also the Russians, the Cubans, and North Koreans.”

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