Bipartisan Lawmakers Sound Alarm on China’s ‘Magic Weapon’

'Our bipartisan memo on united front work will help the American people recognize and resist the CCP’s malign influence.'The top Republican and Democrat of a congressional committee on China are urging Americans to be alert to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence operations known as “united front work”—a system that the United States has “no direct analogue” and its threats are "little understood."On Nov. 27, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), chair and ranking member of the House Select Committee on the CCP, issued a memo titled “United Front 101,” explaining how every CCP leader from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping has valued the system to achieve the party’s goals.“Through its united front work strategy, which Xi Jinping has called a ‘magic weapon,’ the Chinese Communist Party uses every tool at its disposal, whether legal or illicit, to influence the American people and interfere in democratic societies,” Mr. Gallagher said in a statement.“Our bipartisan memo on united front work will help the American people recognize and resist the CCP’s malign influence.”The memo starts off by defining China’s united front work, saying it is “a unique blend of engagement, influence activities, and intelligence operations that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses to shape its political environment, including to influence other countries’ policy toward the PRC and to gain access to advanced foreign technology.”The central CCP agency spearheading the united front work is called the United Front Work Department (UFWD). According to the memo, Xi “elevated the stature of united front work” after assuming power in 2012. Three years later, the CCP leader established his own “leading small group” to coordinate the effort “at the party’s highest echelon of power.”Related Stories11/22/202311/15/2023“United front work damages U.S. interests through legal and illegal technology transfer, surveillance of Chinese diaspora communities, promotion of favorable narratives about the PRC through ostensibly independent voices, and the neutralization or harassment of critics of the CCP,” the memo reads, referring to China's official name, the People's Republic of China.It adds, “The United States has no direct analogue, and the U.S. Government has struggled to counter united front work with traditional counterintelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic tools.”A U.S. criminal case connected to the UFWD happened in 2015, when Yang Chunlai, a former engineer at Chicago-based global markets company CME group, was sentenced to four years of probation for stealing trade secrets.In May, Liang Litang, a U.S. citizen living in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, was arrested for acting as an illegal agent of the Chinese regime. He allegedly provided China a “blacklist” of U.S.-based pro-democracy dissidents from 2018 to 2012.According to the Justice Department, Mr. Liang allegedly provided the information to Chinese officials working for China’s Ministry of Public Security and the UFWD. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) speaks during a press conference unveiling the results of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) investigation into the biolab discovered in Reedley, Calif., in Washington on Nov. 15, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)‘Co-Opt and Influence Others’ Outside of China, the Chinese regime’s united front work agencies and organizations have co-opted civic groups, such as the America ChangLe Association, according to the memo. The association, an organization that claims to serve people from southeastern China’s Fujian Province, housed a secret Chinese "police station" in New York City before the FBI arrested two of its members in April.“The networks built by the UFWD are often viewed as prime operating grounds by the PRC’s intelligence agencies, which seek to draw on members of united front organizations to support espionage and influence operations, as seen in the recent FBI arrests relating to China’s police station in New York City,” the memo says.Another organization controlled by the UFWD is the Washington-based National Association for China’s Peaceful Reunification (NACPU), the memo says. In October 2020, the State Department designated NACPU as a foreign mission, saying it was used by the UFWD to “advance the PRC’s propaganda and malign influence.”Inside China, every Chinese state ministry “has some element that focuses on united front work and its associated influence operations,” the memo says, before adding there are united front groups inside some foreign companies operating in the country.“The CCP also increasingly directs united front influence work at foreign private companies operating in China, some of which have established their own United Front organizations," the memo says. “Foreign companies’ united front groups maintain close contact with local subordinates of the UFWD and have pressured foreign governments like Australia to support Beijing’s Belt and

Bipartisan Lawmakers Sound Alarm on China’s ‘Magic Weapon’

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'Our bipartisan memo on united front work will help the American people recognize and resist the CCP’s malign influence.'

The top Republican and Democrat of a congressional committee on China are urging Americans to be alert to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence operations known as “united front work”—a system that the United States has “no direct analogue” and its threats are "little understood."

On Nov. 27, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), chair and ranking member of the House Select Committee on the CCP, issued a memo titled “United Front 101,” explaining how every CCP leader from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping has valued the system to achieve the party’s goals.

“Through its united front work strategy, which Xi Jinping has called a ‘magic weapon,’ the Chinese Communist Party uses every tool at its disposal, whether legal or illicit, to influence the American people and interfere in democratic societies,” Mr. Gallagher said in a statement.

“Our bipartisan memo on united front work will help the American people recognize and resist the CCP’s malign influence.”

The memo starts off by defining China’s united front work, saying it is “a unique blend of engagement, influence activities, and intelligence operations that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses to shape its political environment, including to influence other countries’ policy toward the PRC and to gain access to advanced foreign technology.”

The central CCP agency spearheading the united front work is called the United Front Work Department (UFWD). According to the memo, Xi “elevated the stature of united front work” after assuming power in 2012. Three years later, the CCP leader established his own “leading small group” to coordinate the effort “at the party’s highest echelon of power.”

“United front work damages U.S. interests through legal and illegal technology transfer, surveillance of Chinese diaspora communities, promotion of favorable narratives about the PRC through ostensibly independent voices, and the neutralization or harassment of critics of the CCP,” the memo reads, referring to China's official name, the People's Republic of China.

It adds, “The United States has no direct analogue, and the U.S. Government has struggled to counter united front work with traditional counterintelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic tools.”

A U.S. criminal case connected to the UFWD happened in 2015, when Yang Chunlai, a former engineer at Chicago-based global markets company CME group, was sentenced to four years of probation for stealing trade secrets.
In May, Liang Litang, a U.S. citizen living in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, was arrested for acting as an illegal agent of the Chinese regime. He allegedly provided China a “blacklist” of U.S.-based pro-democracy dissidents from 2018 to 2012.
According to the Justice Department, Mr. Liang allegedly provided the information to Chinese officials working for China’s Ministry of Public Security and the UFWD.
.
 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) speaks during a press conference unveiling the results of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) investigation into the biolab discovered in Reedley, Calif., in Washington on Nov. 15, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) speaks during a press conference unveiling the results of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) investigation into the biolab discovered in Reedley, Calif., in Washington on Nov. 15, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

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‘Co-Opt and Influence Others’

Outside of China, the Chinese regime’s united front work agencies and organizations have co-opted civic groups, such as the America ChangLe Association, according to the memo. The association, an organization that claims to serve people from southeastern China’s Fujian Province, housed a secret Chinese "police station" in New York City before the FBI arrested two of its members in April.

“The networks built by the UFWD are often viewed as prime operating grounds by the PRC’s intelligence agencies, which seek to draw on members of united front organizations to support espionage and influence operations, as seen in the recent FBI arrests relating to China’s police station in New York City,” the memo says.

Another organization controlled by the UFWD is the Washington-based National Association for China’s Peaceful Reunification (NACPU), the memo says. In October 2020, the State Department designated NACPU as a foreign mission, saying it was used by the UFWD to “advance the PRC’s propaganda and malign influence.”

Inside China, every Chinese state ministry “has some element that focuses on united front work and its associated influence operations,” the memo says, before adding there are united front groups inside some foreign companies operating in the country.

“The CCP also increasingly directs united front influence work at foreign private companies operating in China, some of which have established their own United Front organizations," the memo says. “Foreign companies’ united front groups maintain close contact with local subordinates of the UFWD and have pressured foreign governments like Australia to support Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.”

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also known as "One Belt, One Road") is Xi’s flagship foreign policy of building up Beijing’s geopolitical influence by financing infrastructure projects in participating nations. In 2015, the UFWD issued a directive asking all its agencies and organizations to promote and facilitate BRI projects. The directive aimed to attract more international backing as critics have criticized Beijing for putting participating nations in unsustainable debt obligations.
Currently, Wang Huning, one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee—the CCP’s top decision-making body—oversees the United Front policy. The memo references Mr. Wang's 1991 book, “America Against America,” which “critiqued the internal conflict he found at the heart of American society.”

The memo identifies 12 primary groups the CCP targets via its united front work. The groups include individuals without party affiliations, non-CCP intellectuals, ethnic minorities, private businesses, urban professionals, overseas ethnic Chinese, and citizens of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

“Once those groups and individuals are incorporated into the united front system, they can be used to co-opt and influence others,” the memo concludes.

Mr. Krisnamoorthi said in a statement that China’s united front system is “important, but little understood.”

“This background memo provides information about united front activities, and can be a potentially helpful guide in addressing and countering them," Mr. Krisnamoorthi said.