by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Biden administration last month warned of a Chinese Communist Party front group that seeks to “co-opt” state leaders as part of Beijing’s sprawling foreign influence operation. Emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop show the first son and his business partners helped the organization gain a foothold in the United States while his father was vice president.
In 2015, Biden’s partners lobbied the State Department to publicly approve a partnership between the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and State Legislative Leaders Foundation, a nonprofit group that hosts forums for state legislators and corporate leaders. Hunter’s team portrayed the initiative as a boon for U.S.-Chinese relations.
But emails show they hoped the U.S. government’s recognition of the partnership would help the foundation establish an office in Beijing. It is not clear why the partnership—or the Obama administration’s blessing of it—would have helped Hunter Biden’s business prospects. What is clear is that he and his colleagues believed it would: Biden associate James Bulger wrote in a July 17, 2015, email that the Beijing office would be “a great business driver” for a joint venture they sought with Harvest Fund Management, a Chinese investment firm led by Henry Zhao, a businessman and reported member of the Chinese Communist Party.
The lobbying campaign proved wildly successful on all fronts. After a September 2015 meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping, President Barack Obama endorsed the partnership between State Legislative Leaders Foundation and the Chinese group. Months later, Hunter Biden’s company finalized its multimillion-dollar deal with Harvest Management.
Biden’s emails, which have not been previously reported, show how the younger Biden helped a Chinese Communist Party influence outfit that his father’s administration now views as a national security threat.