China Jails Xi Jinping Critic Ren Zhiqiang For 18 Years

A court in Beijing has sentenced former property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang to 18 years’ imprisonment, in a move analysts said was intended to send a strong message that ruling Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping will brook no challenges to his authority, even among his own “princeling” political faction.The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Ren to 18 years’ imprisonment after finding him guilty of “corruption, bribery, embezzlement of public funds and abuse of power” as a high-ranking leader of a state-owned enterprise, the court said in a statement on Sept. 22.Ren was found to have “taken advantage of his position to embezzle more than 110 million yuan in public funds, received more than 1.25 million yuan in bribes, abused his power and caused particularly heavy losses of more than 100 million yuan to a state-owned holding company,” the court said in a statement.Ren accepted the decision and decided not to appeal, the Global TImes newspaper, which has close links to ruling party newspaper the People’s Daily, said in a report.He was expelled by the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in July after being probed by the agency in the wake of an online essay he wrote criticizing Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and likening the Chinese leader to a “clown.”“Ren was found to have failed to keep in line with the party Central Committee on major issues of principle and published articles in violation of the four cardinal principles, defaming the Party and the country, as well as distorting party and military history,” the CCDI said at the time.Sichuan-based journalist Li Li said the sentence means that the 69-year-old Ren will likely spend the rest of his days behind bars.“Basically this means that they want Ren Zhiqiang to die in prison,” Li said. “The Communist Party cracks down harder on [dissidents] within its ranks than outsiders.”'Warning to the rest of China' Hebei-based Communist Party historian Fang Ning said he was shocked at the length of the sentence.“Everyone knows why Ren Zhiqiang got that sentence,” Fang told RFA. “It’s a warning to the rest of China not to say anything that strays from the party line.”He said heavy sentences have typically been handed down to high-ranking party members believed to be a threat to the leadership of the time, including late former premier Zhao Ziyang.“If you look back at the history of the Chinese Communist Party, then this isn’t particularly surprising,” Fang said.Beijing-based independent scholar Liu Jing agreed. “It’s basically letting everyone know that they need to keep their mouths shut,” he told RFA. “In Beijing, we call it killing the chickens to frighten the monkeys.”“Anyone who says something [the party leaders] don’t want to hear will be punished,” he said.Outspoken Beijing journalist Gao Yu said Ren’s apparent acceptance of the charges against him contradicted his earlier stance in refusing a state-appointed lawyer and choosing to defend himself in court.“I’m pretty sure that Ren’s decision not to appeal has a lot to do with his son,” she said, referring to the arrest of Ren’s son, about whom officials have remained silent.Companies put on notice Wu Qiang, a former politics lecturer at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, said the warning message in Ren’s hefty jail term extends in particular to other leaders of large companies in China not to forget that they need the ruling party’s protection and approval.“He may be a second-generation member of a revolutionary family … but Ren can’t be allowed off the hook,” Wu said. “[Xi] is building his image as an absolute leader.”Chinese political commentator Willy Lam said Ren’s sentence is closely linked to the fact that he criticized Xi in public.“Xi Jinping seems to have increased punishment for those who criticize him during the past year or two,” Lam told RFA. “This heavy sentence isn’t just a matter of a couple of online articles.”“It’s about the fact that Xi regarded him as a threat, and part of a behind-the-scenes coup attempt aimed at Xi,” he said.Lam said official media had played down the news of Ren’s heavy jail term, possibly so as to avoid stirring up public sympathy for Ren.“Xi Jinping is hoping that this harsh sentence handed down to Ren Zhiqiang will stop other members of the princeling factions from attacking him,” he said.Reported by Gao Feng and Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Ng Yik-tung and Sing Man for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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Philippine Leader Tells UN 2016 Arbitration Award on South China Sea ‘Beyond Compromise’

The Philippine president made a strident statement Tuesday on the South China Sea to the United Nations General Assembly, describing a 2016 arbitral tribunal award that struck down virtually all of China’s claims in the disputed waters as “beyond compromise.” Like other world leaders addressing the pandemic-restricted event, President Rodrigo Duterte delivered the remarks in a pre-recorded video speech. His remarks aired shortly after Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered his address at the opening of the 75thsession of the General Assembly. “The award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish, or abandon,” Duterte said, in reference to the outcome of the case the previous Philippine administration brought to The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration. “We firmly reject attempts to undermine it,” he added in his first speech to the U.N. since his election in 2016. The 2016 award refuted the legal basis for nearly all of China’s expansive maritime and territorial claims in the South China Sea. It called Beijing’s insistence on holding “historic rights” to the waters there inconsistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS. China has never recognized the 2016 arbitration or its outcome. Other countries – the United States, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and most recently the United Kingdom, Germany, and France – have brought up the 2016 arbitration award in their own complaints about China’s behavior in the South China Sea, or have called China to come into compliance with the award as it now constitutes a precedent under international law. “We welcome the increasing number of states that have come in support of the award and what it stands for – the triumph of reason over rashness, of law over disorder, of amity over ambition,” Duterte went on to say. “This, as it should, is the majesty of the law.” Duterte’s comments suggested a hardening in tone from the Philippines, which put its territorial disputes with China on the backburner after he took office four years ago. Duterte has sought closer economic ties with China and has toyed with a reduction in ties with its long-standing treaty ally, the United States. On other topics, Duterte spoke about the climate crisis, the effects of the pandemic on migrants and stranded seafarers, and the need for a COVID-19 vaccine to be available as a global public good. Duterte, who has faced international criticism over allegations of widespread extrajudicial killings in a bloody war on drugs, also delivered a lengthy diatribe against human rights advocates. He accused them of having “weaponized” human rights and of “preying on the most vulnerable humans.” The opening day of the General Assembly was dominated by the tensions between the U.S. and China, with President Donald Trump blaming China for the spread of COVID-19. He demanded that China be held accountable. Xi pushed back, saying China had no intention of entering a “Cold War.” ”We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence,” Xi said. “We have no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot war with any country. We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation. We do not seek to develop only ourselves or engage in a zero-sum game.” Xi made no mention of the South China Sea. China currently considers itself to have a maritime dispute with six other Asian governments concerning the South China Sea. They are the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, and Indonesia. The United States recently updated its official stance on the dispute, calling China’s maritime claims and claims to some submerged features in the South China Sea “unlawful” and “illegal,” slowly aligning the U.S. stance with the 2016 arbitration award. It has also recently changed its policies on Marine Scientific Research to reflect UNCLOS, despite the U.S. Senate never having ratified the Convention.

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Trump Hits China Over Coronavirus, Environment at Opening of UN General Assembly

U.S. President Donald Trump attacked China during his address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday, accusing Beijing of failing to contain the coronavirus, polluting the world, and manipulating trade, while Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping voiced veiled criticism of Washington. The tone of his speech was in marked contrast to that of Chinese President Xi Jinping who delivered a more measured statement that promoted multilateralism and, while not directly referring to the U.S., clearly took jabs at the Trump administration for isolationist and protectionist policies. Speaking via prerecorded video to the general debate of the 75th Session of the Sept. 22-9 UNGA, with only a limited number of New York-based representatives of member states present at U.N. Headquarters due to the pandemic, Trump predicted that the U.S. will defeat the “China virus” and usher in a new era of “unprecedented prosperity, cooperation and peace.” In order to do so, he said, addressing the session themed “The Future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism—confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action,” Trump urged other member states to “hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China.” He slammed China, where the coronavirus originated in December 2019 in central Hubei province’s Wuhan city, for initially locking down domestic travel while allowing flights to leave the country, while blasting Beijing and the World Health Organization—which he said is “virtually controlled by China”—for having “falsely declared” that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. “Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease,” he said, adding that “the United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions.” Trump also accused China of dumping plastic and trash into the oceans, overfishing in other countries’ waters, and emitting carbon at a level nearly twice that of the U.S. Trump chastised the U.N. as ineffective, saying it had failed to “focus on the real problems of the world.” Many of those he listed were issues that Washington has long criticized Beijing for, including religious persecution, forced labor, and what he termed “the ethnic cleansing of religious minorities,” in an apparent reference to rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where authorities are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a vast network of internment camps since April 2017. Military tensions between the U.S. and China have increased amidst Washington’s demand for freedom of navigation within the South China Sea—disputed waters that Beijing claims are nearly entirely within its territory. Lastly, Trump railed against China for “decades of … trade abuses” that have led to a long-running trade war between Beijing and Washington. An image of Chinese President Xi Jinping appearing by video link at the United Nations 75th anniversary is seen on an outdoor screen as a pedestrian walks past below in Beijing, Sept. 22, 2020. AFP ‘Follow the guidance of science’ Xi Jinping also began his address on the opening day of the UNGA with a pledge that the coronavirus “will be defeated,” but took the opportunity to applaud the concerted efforts of the global community, which he said are needed to combat it. In remarks that appeared aimed at the U.S., Xi called on nations to “follow the guidance of science” and the lead of the WHO and insisted that “any attempt of politicizing the issue or stigmatization must be rejected.” He said that the pandemic has shown more than ever that the world is a “global village” and that all countries are connected. “No country can gain from others’ difficulties or maintain stability by taking advantage of others’ problems,” he said. “We should reject attempts to build blocks to keep others out and oppose a zero-sum approach. We should see each other as members of the same big family, pursue win-win cooperation, and rise above ideological disputes and not fall into the trap of clash of civilizations.” Xi also called for cooperation on initiatives that will enhance economic globalization to protect against the impact of challenges such as the coronavirus, rather than isolationist policies. “Burying one’s head in the sand like an ostrich in the face of economic globalization and trying to fight it with Don Quixote’s lance is against the trend of history. Let this be clear, the world will never return to isolation and no one can sever the ties between countries,” he said. In addition to calling for a worldwide “Green Revolution” to protect the environment using the Paris Climate Accord as guidance, Xi also urged reformation of the global governance system based on multilateralism under U.N. “Major countries should act like major countries—they should provide more global public rules, take up their due responsibilities and live up to people’s expectations,” he said, in another apparent shot at Washington. But he sought to downplay any fears that China would use its growing military might, economic power, or influence to impose its values on other nations. “We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence—we have no intention to fight either a cold war or a hot one with any country,” he said, vowing that China will resolve its disputes through dialogue and negotiation.

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China's Ruling Party Moves to Exert Control Over Private Sector

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has issued a directive calling on all private companies to accept its direction when doing business and hiring staff, according to a document published late on Tuesday."The scale of the private economy has continued to expand, and risks and challenges have increased significantly," the CCP general office said in an "opinion" published on official websites.The directive called on the party's United Front machinery -- which conducts outreach and influence operations outside party ranks both domestically and internationally -- to take on the private sector, and bring it more closely under party control and influence.The political thought of general secretary Xi Jinping should be the guiding light for the private sector in the "new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics," the directive said."United Front work in the private sector ... will lead to the growing enhancement of the CCP's leadership over the private sector," the directive said, adding that private entrepreneurs should "unite more closely around the party."Private sector companies and individuals should "strengthen their ideological foundation," with Xi Jinping Thought, it said, calling for party influence and political beliefs to be stepped up in private companies.It said United Front work should target all private companies and staff, including those owned by citizens of Hong Kong and Macau, and should result in CCP influence on training, hiring and firing decisions via a new database of employees and potential recruits.Party committees should be formed or strengthened in some companies, while those that lack them should be offered direct training from local party committees instead, it said.The CCP should also seek to recruit more members from among private sector workers, the document said.'They want to control'Independent historian Feng Zhi said the document uses the language of "wooing" to describe United Front operations in the private sector, but that the reality will likely be far more stark."They are definitely not talking about wooing; they are talking about control," Feng told RFA on Wednesday. "There is no need for the CCP to win over the private sector; they want to control it, to make it a pawn in their overall game.""This directive establishes the authority of party organizations [over the private sector], which will guide and coordinate the sector via the Federation of Industry and Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce," he said.Feng said the directive paves the way for a return to a planned economy controlled by the CCP."[They also want to] stop private entrepreneurs from turning into dissidents and acting as a focus for anti-CCP forces," he said.The directive was published less than a week after the trial of dissident property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang, who was detained and expelled from the ruling Chinese Communist Party after penning an article highly critical of general secretary Xi Jinping.Ren stood trial on Friday at the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, where he faced charges of bribery and abuse of power."If they want to return to the era of a planned economy, they must first address the issue of the private sector," Feng said. "That process has now begun."Shanxi scholar Li Xiangyang agreed, saying that the directive set out the aims of increased CCP control over the private sector."They will strengthen United Front work in the private sector, as well as patriotic and socialist education and the party control of personnel, hiring and firing," Li said."They are taking control."The directive encompasses all non-state organizations in China, with the exception of foreign-invested and Taiwanese-invested enterprises, as well as non-government groups offering social services and individual entrepreneurs.New emphasis on ideologyIn Hong Kong, former Bank of Communications economist Law Ka-chung said the highest-ranking executives in private Chinese companies are already CCP members, while middle-ranking and senior-level employees have long been subjected to background checks.What has changed is the new emphasis on ideology, Law told RFA."From what I have seen, since last year we have started to see more instances of [political] criticism or brainwashing [in private companies]," he said. "Staff who don't toe the party line are forced out, often through other excuses.""They are setting it down in black and white now, and making it part of the official discourse."Chan Shan-ho, chairman of the Hong Kong Small and Medium Enterprises General Association, said the new directive will likely add to current political tensions."In these times, we have to be more careful about everything," Chan said. "Nobody knows what to do, and everyone feels helpless in the face of the trade war between China and the U.S."Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Gigi Lee for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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Cypriot Passport Bought by Shadowy Ally of Cambodian Interior Minister

A mysterious Chinese-Cambodian tycoon with ties to Interior Minister Sar Kheng purchased Cypriot citizenship in 2018, according to documents shared exclusively with Radio Free Asia by Al Jazeera as part of their Cyprus Papers investigation. With a goatee beard and an impish demeanor, 33-year-old Chen Zhi makes for an unlikely “oknha,” the honorific title bestowed on businessmen who donate at least $500,000 to public works approved by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Such sums are pocket change to the likes of Chen, one of a growing class of tycoons capitalizing on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, which aims to improve commercial infrastructure linking China with the rest of the world. Chen’s Prince Group of companies have invested more than $1 billion into corporate ventures across Cambodia, according to media reports. Evidence uncovered by RFA suggests he’s leveraged political connections in both Cambodia and his native China to make that happen. Originally hailing from the Chinese city of Fujian, Chen became a naturalised Cambodian citizen in February 2014. The timing was perfect. Just five months earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping had launched BRI, which unleashed a flood of Chinese capital into Cambodia, inflating a real estate bubble that has yet to burst. A powerful friend in the shadows Foreigners constitute the vast majority of buyers for condo units in the high-rises that have sprouted in Cambodian cities – many of them Chinese. While non-citizens are forbidden by law from buying land in Cambodia, Chen’s naturalized status means that his Prince Real Estate (Cambodia) Group has been able to make a fortune building and selling such units. Evidence uncovered by RFA suggests Chen had a powerful silent partner in China involved the venture. Marketing materials used by Prince Real Estate when it first set up shop in Cambodia point to a now-mothballed website that promoted its real estate offerings in the country from 2015 to 2018. Archived versions of the site show in the bottom-left hand corner an Internet Content Provider, or ICP, license number. (Any website wishing to operate within China is required under Chinese law to apply for a unique ICP number from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology or else find themselves blocked). A search of the ministry’s official database revealed that the Prince Group’s domain name and ICP number matched. However, the database recorded them as having been registered by Chongqing Qijiang District Julong Industry, a construction and real estate company owned by Zhao Mozhang, a municipal official in the western Chinese metropolis of Chongqing. A Phnom Penh proxy? Born in 1943 and an engineer by training, local press reports describe Zhao as having made his fortune after communist China eased restrictions on private business from the late 1970s. He was reportedly first elected to a local People’s Congress in 1990 and has maintained parallel careers in construction, real estate and politics ever since. In March 2014, a Chinese real estate company wholly owned by Zhao became a founding partner in a newly formed Chinese firm: Chongqing Phnom Penh Trading Company. The new company’s name seems to imply Zhao was eyeing business opportunities in Cambodia’s capital. The management of his shareholding in it through his pre-existing real estate firm suggests it was bricks and mortar he was interested in. Zhao Mozhang, a municipal official in western China’s Chongqing metropolis and founding partner of the Chongqing Phnom Penh Trading Company. Credit: Chongqing Morning Post But without Cambodian citizenship, Zhao would be unable to buy land there. China’s laws prohibit its citizens from holding dual nationality. While the legislation is sometimes loosely enforced, it is unlikely an elected official like Zhao taking a second citizenship would go unnoticed. Conveniently, Chen was awarded Cambodian citizenship less than one month before Zhao’s real estate company became a founding partner in Chongqing Phnom Penh Trading Company. Chen did not respond to a detailed request for comment, including questions about the nature of the relationship between the Prince group of companies and those of Zhao, who reporters were also unable to reach for comment. Joining the Cambodian elite Chen certainly enjoys high-level political connections in Cambodia. In July, King Norodom Sihamoni designated him “neak oknha,” an honorific political scientists say indicates a track record of extensive generosity towards the ruling CPP. Chen was subsequently appointed personal advisor to Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng, for whose ministry he has already served as an unsalaried advisor since February 2017 -- a position with equal status to an undersecretary of state. Interior Minister Sar Kheng, shaking hands with National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun, May 16, 2020. Credit: Chen’s association with Sar Kheng extends to business ties his son, Sar Sokha. Two weeks after Chen’s appointment as a ministerial advisor in 2017, Chen and Sar Sokha established Jinbei (Cambodia) Investment. While the company’s precise activities are unclear, it is likely connected to Chen’s Jin Bei Group, which owns a casino in the Cambodian resort city of Sihanoukville, a magnet for Chinese gamblers. Sar Sokha, who did not respond to a request for comment, is also a secretary of state at the Ministry of Education. But that didn’t stop him participating in a showy Prince Real Estate public relations exercise in Sihanoukville in April 2017. For many years, Sar Kheng has been widely perceived as a moderate, reformist alternative to Prime Minister Hun Sen. According to Sebastian Strangio, author of “Hun Sen’s Cambodia,” the overlapping of the political and business links between Chen and the Interior Minister undermine this narrative. “It shows that he continues to play the same sort of patronage politics that Hun Sen does in a similar sort of way,” Strangio told RFA. “I think this is evidence of just that.” Jin Bei Casino in the southern resort city of Sihanoukville, a magnet for Chinese gamblers visiting Cambodia. The casino is owned by Chen Zhi’s Jin Bei Group. Credit: Jin Bei Casino's Facebook page Following the Khmer Riche to Cyprus In early 2018, Sar Sokha divested his shares in Jinbei (Cambodia) Investment, according to Cambodian Ministry of Commerce records. Meanwhile, Chen had been busy procuring one of the ultimate status symbols among Cambodia’s political and business elite: a Cypriot passport, which allows ease of travel and doing business across the European Union. Over the last year, the government of Cyprus has come under increasing pressure from opposition lawmakers, NGOs and the European Commission to reform its highly lucrative citizenship-by-investment scheme. Under the scheme, persons wishing to obtain a Cyprus passport are required to invest $2.5 million in businesses or real estate on the island nation. A Reuters investigation last November revealed that more than a dozen politically connected Cambodians had obtained Cypriot passports through the scheme. The government in Nicosia reacted by announcing that it would revoke the citizenship of eight of those Cambodian-Cypriots, although they would have to rewrite the scheme’s legislation to do so. Today, almost a year later, the eight are yet to lose their passports. As previously reported by RFA, they include National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun, who in January 2018 joined Chen at a ceremony to mark a donation by the Prince Group of 13 transport trucks to the Cambodian police. This August, another damning leak of documents from the scheme was made available to Al Jazeera. Dubbed the Cyprus Papers, they contained details of 2,500 people who had paid for a Cypriot passport. Documents shared with RFA by Al Jazeera reveal that Chen Zhi was among those 2,500. His application, submitted in 2017, was approved by the Cyprus Ministry of Interior in May 2018. Chen Zhi pictured (right), visiting a Prince Group construction site in Sihanoukville, accompanied by company vice president Qiu Guo Xing (left), in an advertorial in the Phnom Penh Post April 27, 2017 Credit: Phnom Penh Post Mystery millions Neither Chen nor the Cyprus Ministry of Interior official who signed off on his citizenship application responded to questions about what investments the young Chinese-Cambodian-Cypriot made in order to obtain his latest passport. A similar shroud of mystery hangs over much of the oknha’s wealth. He is listed as a director of 10 Hong Kong companies. In many of those cases he is the sole listed director and the companies’ shares are held by shell companies in offshore secrecy jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands, making it impossible to know who truly owns the Hong Kong firms. So where exactly Chen’s money came from is unclear – as is how he transformed from a 27-year-old nobody into one of Cambodia’s most successful tycoons in just six years. One thing is clear, however: whether in China or Cambodia, Chen has not been shy of cosying up to the politically connected – a quality that has brought commercial success for many Cambodian tycoons before him. RFA's Mandarin Service contributed to this report.

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Report: College Board Became ‘Key Partner’ With Chinese Regime

College Board, the academic giant that administers the SAT, served as a "key partner" for the Chinese government for nearly two decades, helping it establish controversial Confucius Institute programs across the U.S. K-12 system, according to a new report. Hanban, the Chinese government agency responsible for administering the Confucius Institute, has worked with the College Board for years to place government-approved Chinese teachers in American high schools across the country, according to a new report by the National Association of Scholars. The initiative has allowed Chinese teachers to teach Mandarin to tens of thousands of students. The College Board has also helped Hanban set up more than a dozen Confucius Institute classrooms, placing an organ of Chinese propaganda in the heart of some public school systems. Recent Stories in National Security The report sheds light on the Chinese government's vigorous attempt to penetrate the K-12 system, mirroring its infiltration of college campuses through the Confucius Institute. Rachelle Peterson, an NAS scholar responsible for the report, said the partnership raises questions about whether it is appropriate for such a trusted American institution to lend its support for Chinese influence-peddling efforts targeting the country's youngest people. "The College Board's relationship with the Hanban appears to be unique—it is so deeply wedded to the Chinese government," she said. "China has been especially aggressive in seeking Western partners who can lend to the Chinese government a veneer of credibility and respectability, and the College Board has received those offers with open arms." Beijing claims that the work done by Hanban and the Confucius Institute is benign cultural diplomacy that seeks to promote Mandarin literacy and Chinese culture across the world. Critics—including a bipartisan cohort of congressmen—disagree. They identify the language programs as a thinly veiled attempt by the Chinese government to promote propaganda among the next generation of American youths. These critics point to the fact that the Chinese government oftentimes vets the Chinese instructors for the education programs and bars them from discussing sensitive topics such as the ongoing human-rights atrocities in Xinjiang, Tibet, and elsewhere. College Board did not respond to a request for comment. The partnership started in 2003 when Hanban paid $685,000 to the College Board to help the nonprofit develop its A.P. Chinese curriculum. The relationship has only deepened since then—Peterson said she identified up to six different partnerships between the College Board and the Chinese government. In 2014, College Board CEO David Coleman went so far as to identify Hanban as the "sun" that "lights the path to develop Chinese teaching in the U.S." "The College Board is the moon. I am so honored to reflect the light that we've gotten from Hanban," he added. The report found that the College Board helped establish five Confucius Institutes in public school districts across the country, where each institute oversees multiple Chinese classes in the district. The nonprofit also helped set up 15 Confucius Institute classrooms as well, which represent a smaller presence than full-fledged Confucius Institutes. The College Board partnership has helped Hanban influence Mandarin education even in schools without Confucius Institute programs. The College Board jointly administers a guest teacher program with Hanban that has so far allowed more than 1,650 Chinese teachers to teach Mandarin in American schools. Hanban covers part of the expenses for the teachers, all of whom are vetted by the Chinese government. Hanban and the College Board also cohost the annual National Chinese Language Conference—the preeminent conference for Chinese language teachers attended by thousands. "The College Board acts as a recruiter for the Chinese government," Peterson said. "The Chinese government runs these programs targeting students and teachers and funds them. And the College Board goes around and encourages people to join, using its name and appeal to quell any fears." Peterson said that Hanban's partnership with the College Board is just the latest example of how the Chinese government exploits weaknesses in American institutions to protect its national interest. She said a society-wide reckoning about China's penetration of U.S. society is long overdue. "The Chinese government is aggressive. It exploits every opportunity to turn an institution against its own values and toward the interests of the CCP," she said. "We need to open our eyes to this and grapple with the reality that China is strategically targeting our institutions to try to work from within our own society."

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Milk Tea Alliance Takes on China’s Little Pinks in Meme War

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