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Leadership Of Major U.S. Landowner Chock-Full Of Chinese Communist Party Members

Top executives at Hong Kong-based WH Group Limited, the world’s largest pork producer that controls vast swaths of U.S. farmland through its American subsidiary, are Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review of corporate records and state-run media reports.

Records and reports reviewed by the DCNF identify four top executives and the chairman of the pork giant as CCP members with extensive ties to the Chinese government. WH Group controls nearly 150,000 acres of land across 29 U.S. states through its subsidiary Smithfield Foods, a family-run business established in 1936, which it purchased for $7.1 billion in 2013. While a keyword search on Smithfield’s website returned only two articles mentioning the firm’s relationship with WH Group, neither of the two articles mentioned China. An online map of Smithfield’s global business activities does not list any operations in, or connection to, Asia, despite archived reports from their website suggesting otherwise.

Revelations about WH Group’s CCP and Chinese government ties, which the DCNF found by cross-referencing the firm’s roster with Chinese-language news reports and corporate records, come as Republicans push for bans on Chinese rural land purchases, in particular, those close to U.S. military bases.

“It is no joke to join the Chinese Communist Party,” Matt Shoemaker, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, told the DCNF. “You cannot just walk in and sign-up. You have to show that you are a true believer.”

Several states, including Florida, have taken legislative and executive action to ban Chinese ownership of U.S. farmland. Recently, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued an executive order banning such purchases near military installations. GOP lawmakers also recently pressed the Biden administration to launch an investigation into the second-largest foreign owner of U.S. land after his CCP membership came to light.

“No foreign government should be owning American farmland,” said Shoemaker, who is running for Congress in North Carolina as a Republican. “It is a national security issue, for obvious reasons.”

WH Group’s chairman, Wan Long, as well as multiple board members and some senior management were identified as CCP members in a 2022 Chinese-language stock exchange filing from a subsidiary called Shuanghui Investment and Development Co. (SIDC). WH Group and Chinese corporate records from SIDC also show that WH Group’s chairman and several top executives hold, or previously held, Chinese government positions.

Between 2010 and 2021, the amount of U.S. land owned by Chinese entities skyrocketed from 13,730 acres to 383,935 acres, according to USDA reports.

Smithfield operates half a dozen distribution centers, nearly 20 direct store delivery services, 36 feed mills, as well as more than 40 production plants and 2,400 farms across 29 U.S. states, according to the firm’s website. In total, WH Group owns 146,000 acres in the U.S., according to a 2018 report by the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Smithfield Foods, Inc. holds a substantial market share in the U.S. pork industry, accounting for approximately 26% of the total market share,” according to trade publication Essential Protein Trade & Shipping News.

In a bygone era, GOP governors might have welcomed Chinese investment into rural industries and communities. Now, it’s become a major source of concern as relations between the U.S. and China continue to sour.

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem told the DCNF her office has had “a lot of hard conversations” with Smithfield’s leadership, adding she now believes the company poses a national security threat.

“Any time it felt like we would have the opportunity to work together, it ended up not going as well as I hoped,” Noem said. “I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Smithfield is owned by China.”

Smithfield did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

‘The CCP’s Long-Term Strategy’

WH Group Chairman Wan Long is among the company’s senior leadership who is a CCP member with Chinese government ties, a DCNF review of corporate business filings and Chinese state media reports found.

An archived business profile on SIDC’s website identifies Wan Long as a CCP member.

SIDC is “the largest animal protein company in Asia” and its products include “chilled fresh pork and packaged meat products,” according to Smithfield’s website.

The DCNF reviewed and carefully translated key sections of SIDC’s Chinese-language website, which contains extensive information about WH Group executives’ CCP and Chinese government ties that are absent from WH Group’s English-language website.

Born in 1940, Wan Long joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the age of 20 before entering China’s meat industry, according to Chinese state-run media outlet People’s Daily. Wan Long has since earned various Chinese government positions and state awards, his archived SIDC profile states.

Between 1998 and 2018, Wan Long served as a representative to the National People’s Congress, according to his archived SIDC profile. The National People’s Congress operates “under the leadership” of the CCP, and its officials are “invariably influential members of the CCP and leaders of major mass organizations,” according to the Congressional Executive Commission on China.

SIDC’s archived website also notes that Wan Long has received a “special allowance” from China’s State Council. This refers to a reward system created to “strengthen and improve the work of the Party’s intellectuals,” according to the state-run China News Service. The tax-free reward ranges from a monthly stipend of roughly $85 to an approximately $2,800 lump sum payment, according to China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. However, it is unclear if Wan Long still receives this government reward.

Wan Long also earned the honorific “senior political engineer” from the Chinese government, according to his archived SIDC profile. Senior political engineers are required to possess a “relatively systemic grasp of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory,” according to the State Council’s State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

China’s United Front Work Department (UFWD) also named Wan Long as one of 100 “Outstanding Private Entrepreneurs In The 40 Years Of Reform And Opening-Up” in 2018, according to the All-China Federation Of Industry And Commerce, a UFWD subordinate agency that co-sponsored the award.

The UFWD engages in “influence activities and intelligence operations,” according to the House Select Committee on the CCP.

SIDC’s 2022 filing on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange also identifies three WH Group senior managers — Qiao Haili, Wang Yufen, Liu Songtao — and WH Group executive director Ma Xiangjie as CCP members. All four WH Group executives hold high-level positions at SIDC.

Ma Xiangjie was also elected to serve as a National People’s Congress delegate in Henan province, according to that government body’s website. Delegates are elected by “the People’s congresses at the provincial level as well as by the People’s Liberation Army,” according to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

A local branch of the All-China Federation Of Industry And Commerce named Ma Xiangjie as one of Henan province’s people of the year between 2019 and 2020, according to the UFWD-affiliate’s website.

Yet, it is unclear just how many CCP members WH Group employs.

SIDC, on the other hand, has employed hundreds, according to the Communist Party Member Network’s website, which is operated by the CCP’s Organization Department.

“In recent years, over 300 new Party members have been recruited, strengthening the Party’s troops,” reads SIDC’s Communist Party Member Network profile. “Currently, Shuanghui Development’s senior executives include 17 Party members, constituting 85% [of all senior executives]; six business department general managers are Party members; six Party members are among the seven management department directors; all project managers are Party members; and 47% of the firm’s mid-level cadre are Party members.”

‘Update CFIUS’

When WH Group purchased Smithfield in 2013, the acquisition “received clearance” from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

CFIUS reviews foreign investments into the U.S. on the grounds of national security, the Treasury Department website states. Multiple U.S. government agencies participate in the CFIUS process, including the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense and others, according to the Treasury Department, which is also involved in that process.

“We are pleased that this transaction has been cleared by CFIUS, and we thank the Committee for its careful attention to this review,” Smithfield’s CEO and president at the time, C. Larry Pope, said at the time, according to an SEC filing.

Over a decade later, House Republicans see CFIUS’ approval of WH Group’s purchase of Smithfield as a case study in why the body needs to be reformed.

“What we need to do is update CFIUS to ensure that it has jurisdiction over all foreign adversary land purchases, and to ensure that it has the ability to consider U.S. food security as a factor in assessing the potential risk of a transaction,” Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, who chairs the House Select Committee on the CCP, told the DCNF.

Iowa Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson said the CCP has “nefariously exploited loopholes to buy U.S. land, so they can exert control over our food supply and undermine our national security.”

“This is all part of the CCP’s long-term strategy to hurt America and our interests — whether it’s garnering valuable U.S. military intelligence or interfering with our food supply chain,” Hinson told the DCNF. “We cannot allow another acre of U.S. land to get into the hands of the CCP.”

WH Group, SIDC, Wan Long and CFIUS did not respond to multiple requests for comment.



Investigative reporter.

RELATED ARTICLE: EXCLUSIVE: Second-Largest Foreign Owner Of US Land Is A Chinese Communist Party Member

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Dem Rep Who Opposed New China Committee Serves On Non-Profit That Shares Staff With Alleged Chinese Intel Front Groups

A Democratic congresswoman serves on a non-profit which has shared multiple personnel with alleged Chinese intelligence front groups, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found.

California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu joined the All America Chinese Youth Federation (AACYF) in 2012 and remains listed as “honorary president” on the 501(c)(3) non-profit’s website, according to a DCNF translation. During Chu’s tenure at AACYF, its leadership has included multiple individuals who’ve belonged to China-based organizations that allegedly operate as front groups for a Chinese intelligence service.

The DCNF located Chu’s Chinese name, Zhao Meixin, within a New York Times article and matched it with AACYF’s records to determine her membership. Chu did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

Although it remains unclear what specific responsibilities Chu has as AACYF’s “honorary president,” the congresswoman has led events held by the organization, such as during a November 2013 Silicon Valley tech summit where Chu served as “chairman,” according to a DCNF translation of AACYF’s website.

Five of AACYF’s leaders who’ve served at the non-profit during Chu’s tenure have belonged to organizations allegedly serving a Chinese government agency tasked with overseeing and coordinating CCP influence operations, the DCNF determined. The so-called United Front Work Department (UFWD) has been identified by government agencieslegislative bodies and experts as a central organ of CCP influence efforts, and experts also say UFWD works in concert with Chinese intelligence operatives.

“There is no exact counterpart in the United States for what [the UFWD] does,” Dr. John Lenczowski, former director of European and Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan, told the DCNF. “There is a strategic integration between the intelligence services and the UFWD in a way that has no parallel between U.S. intelligence, and, say, the National Endowment for Democracy, or even the State Department in its public diplomacy activities.”

“The reality of it is that the Chinese have been conducting a Cold War and we’ve not,” Lenczowski said.

The CCP’s UFWD “cultivates and controls pervasive networks of affiliates around the world” and has thereby secured “unchallenged direction” over large numbers of overseas Chinese “organizations and Chinese-language media, providing infrastructure for corruption, political interference and malign influence,” the 2020 House China Task Force report stated.

“This is what the communists do,” Brandon Weichert, a consultant to the U.S. Air Force, told the DCNF. “They create front organizations in countries that are open societies, like ours, to try to surreptitiously influence events, businesses and leaders in those countries to shape them into acting in accordance with China’s national interest and strategic needs.”

“In many cases, the players involved are sort of useful idiots or willing dupes. In some cases, they’re fellow travelers,” Weichert added.

‘Facts and Reality’

Rep. Chu recently voted against the formation of the House Select Committee tasked with examining, among other things, Chinese influence in the United States. In defense of her vote, Chu claimed that the initiative could lead to anti-Asian violence, according to a statement released by the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), which Chu chairs.

CAPAC did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

California Republican Rep. Mike Garcia told the DCNF that Chu’s vote against the formation of the select committee on China ignored “facts and reality.” Garcia told the DCNF that the new committee, which Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher is slated to lead, will “combat the CCP, not the Chinese people.”

“The vast majority of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle supported the creation of this committee,” Garcia said, referring to the resolution which passed 365-65.

The United Front

Chu appears to have served as AACYF’s “honorary president” alongside Chi Honghu, who is listed as an “honorary adviser” on the organization’s website, a role he has held in various forms since at least 2009, according to a DCNF translation.

However, just before joining AACYF, Chi apparently spent the previous decade or so as “director” of the China Overseas Friendship Association (COFA), according to a DCNF translation of COFA’s website and Chinese government records.

COFA was founded by the CCP’s Central Committee and the UFWD in 1997 and has been listed as a UFWD “work unit,” according to DCNF translations of archived versions of those organizations’ websites.

In 2018, the U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission (USCC) identified the group as a UFWD intelligence operation, referring to it as “the UFWD China Overseas Friendship Association.”

After Rep. Chu’s colleague, Chi, joined AACYF, he was also identified as an “adviser” for the China Overseas Exchange Association (COEA) within a series of Chinese government announcements beginning as early as 2010, according to a DCNF translation, and apparently continued to serve in this capacity until at least 2018.

Several experts on Chinese intelligence operations have identified COEA as a UFWD front group, including Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg, who characterized COEA as a “UFWD agency” in their 2020 book on Chinese intelligence, “Hidden Hand.”

Similarly, Geoff Wade, a China-focused historian at Australian National University, also identified COEA as a UFWD front.

“[COEA had] the same address as the [Overseas Chinese Affairs Office],” Wade told the DCNF, which he claims indicates that the Chinese government agency controlled COEA.

Chi and AACYF did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

‘Directly Subordinate To The UFWD’

Several Chinese government announcements running from 2011 to 2018 also identified another current AACYF “honorary president,” Florence Fang, as having held various positions with COEA, according to a DCNF translation.

Fang formally served as “executive director” of COEA’s 4th Council between 2009 and 2013, the DCNF determined after reviewing Chinese government records and the Florence Fang Family Foundation’s website. The DCNF matched Fang’s Chinese name, Fang Li Bangqin, which is listed on her foundation’s website, with Chinese-language records in order to establish her various roles with COEA.

Fang has served as AACYF’s “honorary president” alongside Rep. Chu since 2012 and has held the position since at least 2006, according to a DCNF translation of an archived version of AACYF’s website. Fang’s tenure at AACYF overlapped with her time as COEA’s “executive director” between 2009 and 2013 and also overlapped with her role as COEA’s “consultant” between 2013 and 2018.

In 2019, Fang also appears to have attended COFA’s 5th Council meeting in Beijing, according to Chinese government records. At the event, Fang appears to have sat just seats away from General Secretary Xi Jinping during a group photo and applauded the communist dictator as he shook hands with other members of the alleged Chinese intelligence front group, footage from Chinese state-run media CCTV revealed.

Fang is also the “founding president” and current “honorary chairman” of the Northern California Association for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, an organization which opposes Taiwan’s independence, a DCNF translation of her foundation’s website reveals.

The 2018 USCC report identified Fang’s association as one of “33 chapters in the United States” listed on the website of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification (CCPPR), an organization the USCC said is “directly subordinate to the UFWD.”

Fang has fundraised for Republican Jeb Bush, as well as several California Democratic politicians including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and representatives Barbara Lee and Nancy Pelosi, the DCNF found.

Fang did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

In addition to Chi and Fang, several other AACYF colleagues of Rep. Chu also belong to an alleged UFWD anti-Taiwan independence front group, the DCNF determined.

AACYF’s current “director general,” Zhu Bingfeng, as well as the organization’s “president,” Ren Xiangdong, have belonged to Chu’s organization since at least 2006, DCNF translations of AACYF’s website determined.

Yet, both Zhu and Ren apparently also hold leadership roles at the American Chinese Youth Federation for the Peaceful Reunification of China, according to DCNF translations of the websites of AACYF and the alleged UFWD front group CCPPR.

As with Fang’s anti-Taiwan independence organization, Zhu and Ren’s organization is also listed as one of the “33 chapters in the United States” that the 2018 USCC report identified as belonging to CCPPR.

Zhu and Ren did not respond immediately to the DCNF’s request for comment.

‘Thousand Talents’

AACYF has also interacted with and supported several UFWD front groups during Rep. Chu’s tenure at the non-profit, the DCNF discovered.

Just months after Chu became an “honorary president” at AACYF in October 2012, the group began advertising a recruitment drive on behalf of the “Thousand Talents Plan” in March 2013, according to an archived version of the Chinese-language website.

The Thousand Talents Plan is a Chinese government program originally designed to recruit “high-quality overseas experts” and allegedly incentivize them to transfer U.S. intellectual property to China, according to Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

An archived version of the Thousand Talents Plan’s website states the program is managed by the Western Returned Scholars Association, which is a UFWD front group, according to the USCC. The Thousand Talents Plan is also a means of economic espionage, FBI Director Christopher Wray said during a 2020 event held at the Washington, D.C., Hudson Institute concerning Chinese government influence operations.

“Perhaps Representative Chu’s concerns and those of like-minded colleagues would be eased by spending more time engaging those constituents and less associating with groups linked to the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party,” Steve Yates, a former Chinese language analyst for the National Security Agency, told the DCNF.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.



Daily Caller News Foundation investigative reporter, political journalist, and China watcher. Twitter: @LenczyckiPhilip

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.