Friday, January 11, 2019

Hoover answers SB Woo about China's influence on George Koo

Late last year a report was published by the Hoover Institution on China's activity in the US. I was mentioned in the report and I wrote a response which was posted in Asia Times.

Subsequently, SB Woo, president of 80/20 Education Foundation, in a letter addressed to the co-chairs of the working group responsible for the report, challenged them to support and back up their statements in regard to China's influence on Chinese Americans and specifically on me.

The co-chairs answered and requested that if publicized their entire message is posted. Their message is as below.
Dear Mr Woo:
 
This is in reply to your original message of December 29.  In it you raised the issue of including George Koo’s name in a footnote in the report. Mr. Koo is entitled to his opinions and throughout the report, we stress the necessity of protecting First Amendment rights in the face of Chinese efforts to manipulate American public opinion.
 
In Mr. Koo’s case, he has written extensively on US-China relations. He is an occasional columnist on a Chinese state-run news website called guancha.cn. We heartily support his First Amendment Rights.
 
What is controversial (and this is within the Chinese-American community, not simply among those who wrote the report) is the participation of some Americans in organizations that were founded and are directed by the Chinese Communist Party. The goals of these organizations such as the Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, the Chinese Overseas Exchange Association and the China Overseas Friendship Association are to carry out state policy of the PRC and to sway public opinion in foreign countries to be more favorable to the PRC. We believe these organizations function no differently than lobbying organizations and, along with their participants, should register as agents of a foreign government.
 
Throughout the report, sources in a variety of sectors spoke with us on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues. We are respecting their wishes.

If you intend to broadly distribute our reply here, we ask you to distribute the entire message and not quote selectively from it.
 
Sincerely,
Larry Diamond, Orville Schell, and John Pomfret
 
P.S. As an addendum to this letter allow us to include a few more details on Mr. Koo that we did not put in the report.
Mr. Koo is a participant in at least three United Front Organizations. He has served an advisor to the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China since it was founded in Australia.
[http://www.acpprc.org.au/schinese/ben.asp]. As you know the council was established by the United Front Work Department in 1988 in Beijing and has chapters throughout the world. It essentially functions as a lobbying wing of the United Front Work Department to convince foreigners that Taiwan should be united with China.
Mr. Koo, as was noted in the report, has served on the council of the China Overseas Friendship Association. He also has served on the council of the China Overseas Exchange Association [http://www.coea.org.cn/472/2013/1014/221.html]. Both of those organizations are run by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council and get their direction from the Chinese Communist Party. Last spring the OCAO was merged into the United Front Work Department as part of the PRC’s efforts to streamline its overseas lobbying work. Among his many trips to China, Mr. Koo was the guest of the UFWD on a 2008 trip where he met with senior United Front officials. The Chinese news report of Mr. Koo’s trip -- http://iqte.cssn.cn/ky/xsjl/201608/t20160824_3174774.shtml-- implied that Mr. Koo’s travel to and in China was paid for by the Chinese government. 
My response to the letter by Larry Diamond et al. is posted on the next blogpost. 

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