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Washington, D.C.: For sale to China

by Mike Nichols, Publisher | January 19, 2021 | 2:13 p.m.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his wife Elaine Chao confer during a 2007 Fraternal Order of Police conference in Louisville. (Photo: Ed Reinke/USA Today)

President Trump’s Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is married to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the now-former Senate Majority Leader. They are illustrative of widespread political conflicts of interest bordering on subversion if not treason between sitting American officials and foreign governments.


The Chao family is deeply embedded commercially and financially with the Chinese government. The Chinese government essentially set them up in the shipping business. Their ships — these are large cargo ships that transport a large amount of goods around the Pacific.


Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute and senior contributor at Breitbart News, warned of McConnell’s financial ties to China in a Monday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host Dylan Gwinn. ACV Reports was provided an advanced recording of the broadcast.


Schweizer added, “The Chinese government is financing the building of these ships for the Chao family business. They provide crews for these chips, and they provide contracts to ship steel and other products around the Pacific.”


The Foremost Group is a shipping business founded by James Chao, Elaine Chao's father. The Chao family business primarily revolves around China, necessitating “deep ties to the economic and political elite in China,” according to a Sunday-published New York Times report.


AVC Reports has developed further information on this story. The Chao family’s shipping business] started out in the early 1990s with just a couple of vessels, a couple of large cargo ships, according to company records. The firm now has 35 or 36 vessels, many of those built by the Chinese government. The estimates are that hundreds of millions of dollars in financing is done by the Chinese to build these ships, and that they give them preferential treatment.


Business in China is done with a political purpose. Though Chinese corporations are described as “privately owned,” they cannot exist without the approval and management of the Chinese Communist Party(CCP). Everything is tied to the Chinese intelligence machine. The China State Shipbuilding Corporation is controlled by the government, by the Communist Party, and does business deals with people in the West with the expectation that they will get things in return.


That is why this is not just a story of a political family getting wealthy off of a foreign government. It raises serious questions about the decisions that were made by Elaine Chao as the transportation secretary and by Mitch McConnell as the Republican leader in the Senate. The suggestion here is that the Chinese government hopes that by striking these deals with the Chao family over the years and making them wealthy and thus influence Elaine Chao and Mitch McConnell to make decisions that are favorable to China.


If we have learned anything from China’s powerful influence in U.S. business, telecommunications and government, the concern is very real. On multiple issues, there seems to be at least circumstantial evidence that the Chao shipping company, and Elaine’s husband Mitch, have been very pro-China in both direct and indirect policy prescriptions for the U.S. stance toward China.

Amid speculation Trump would lift the ban on Huawei, a Chinese communications firm the State Department said is using their equipment to spy on the world, the president instead extended the ban through May 2021, (Photo: Fox News)

The fact that both McConnell’s family and Elaine Chao’s family are doing massive deals with the Chinese government is scarcely public knowledge, as their personal financial statements as government officials are not required to fully disclose any foreign business dealings. That is one of the great problems of Washington today, that things exempt from disclosure by the political class. It is therefore impossible to know how much money the Chao family has made doing business with the CCP.


Critics of current policy have for years called on the Trump administration to update disclosure regulations to mandate acknowledgement of financial ties to foreign governments for both politicians and officials. The “Deep Staters” who infiltrated the Oval Office thwarted any changes the president proposed. The continuing absence of such disclosure regulations — which certainly will not be corrected by a Biden or Harris administration — undermines America’s principles of responsible, open government. We lose representative government as we know it, because the people our elected officials listen to are those foreign entities, not the voters back in their districts and states.


ACV reports notes that Elaine Chao’s sister Angela remains on the board of the Bank of China. She also sits on the board of an entity that was connected to the China State Shipbuilding Corporation. This is a company that is essentially helping to build the Chinese navy which wants to challenge the United States for naval supremacy by 2030.


The Chinese Government blatantly and openly leverages their position in the United States by striking deals with the family members of American politicians. The Chinese will buy anyone, Democrat or Republican. There is ample evidence that sweetheart deals to the families of these public figures, it gets them favorable treatment from those politicians. Concerns over conflicts of interest among politicians and officials regarding Chinese state interests must be addressed. That is particularly so in light of China as a geopolitical threat to America’s global position and value system.


The Obama administration executed what he referred to as a “strategic pivot,” stating at that time major military challenge the United States faces going forward is not coming from Europe. The government in 2010 focused on challenges presented in the Pacific and from Asia, specifically from China. Since that time, the U.S. has spent a large portion of its military budget to contain a rising Chinese military. President Trump redoubled those efforts and stepped up openly to proclaim China our most dangerous adversary. He implemented policies that eliminated Chinese technology from computer and communications systems in the U.S. and sanctioned so-called “private business” in China as being part of the Chinese Communist Party apparatus.


The Chinese navy has said by 2030 they expect to achieve strategic parity with the United States. Given that expectation, it is absurd to dismiss concerns over Mitch McConnell’s and Elaine Chao’s financial ties to the Chinese government. The people in the United States that are developing our strategy to counter China, that are passing legislation to deal with the China threat while benefiting financially from the Chinese government are dangerously close to committing treason. We can think of no time in American history when anyone would find that acceptable.


It poses a basic question: If we are concerned in this country that lobbyists are influencing our policymakers, or that a $5,000 political contribution might persuade our lawmakers, can we not at least agree that major — in some cases $100,000,000-plus deals — are going to influence them, too? Otherwise, it should be all bets are off. We should allow them to do deals with whoever they want to without any hindrance, because if this doesn’t matter, then nothing matters.

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