Meet the Beijing-Aligned Group That Branded a Republican’s Tough-on-China Rhetoric ‘Racist’

The Chinese-American nonprofit that branded a Republican congresswoman’s tough-on-China campaign ads “racist” has extensive ties to Chinese Communist Party influence groups and Beijing-backed companies through its members, staff, and former leaders, a Washington Free Beacon investigation found.

In late October, with the 2022 midterms just two weeks away, the Committee of 100—a nonprofit that works to “advance U.S.-China relations”—issued a statement condemning China-related campaign ads from California Republican Michelle Steel. Those ads, which the committee said included “racist attacks” that encouraged “anti-Asian hate and violence,” criticized Democrat challenger Jay Chen’s past support for the Confucius Classroom program, a CCP-run initiative that provides American K-12 schools with Beijing-backed teachers and curriculum materials.

The committee’s decision to wade into the race—a rare one, given that the nonprofit usually avoids electoral politics in favor of commenting on academic research, legislative developments, and federal appointments—sparked attention from mainstream media outlets and liberal groups. Within days of its release, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee used the statement to declare that the Asian-American community had turned on Steel, with the Times and NPR innocuously describing the Committee of 100 as “a New York-based nonprofit led by prominent Chinese Americans” and a group that “represents Chinese Americans.” Those descriptions, however, ignore the fact that many of the nonprofit’s members, staff, and former leaders have extensive ties to CCP-controlled groups and Chinese state-backed companies—ties that have led some China experts to assert that the committee is a crucial target for the CCP’s foreign influence efforts.

Committee member Ronnie Chan, for example, serves on the governing board of the China-United States Exchange Foundation, a CCP-funded Chinese foreign agent whose founder, billionaire Chinese national Tung Chee-hwa, is the vice chairman of a CCP advisory body. Fellow member Yu Meng, meanwhile, for three years worked as a top officer at the Chinese government-controlled State Administration of Foreign Exchange, a job that China’s Thousand Talents Program—which the FBI says engages in “non-traditional espionage against the United States”—reportedly recruited him to take. Meng in 2015 told CCP propaganda rag People’s Daily that he was inspired to take the job due to his commitment to “the motherland.” Former committee chairman Dominic Ng also served on the board of the Asia Society, which worked to spread Confucius Institutes—the CCP-run higher education equivalent of Confucius Classrooms that a former top Chinese official called “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up”—across the United States.

Committee of 100 members and staff have also partnered with Chinese state-backed companies and propaganda outlets. Senior communications director Charles Zinkowski, for example, previously managed U.S. media relations for Huawei, a CCP tech company that has helped the Chinese government surveil Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang concentration camps. The United States on Wednesday banned the approval of new Huawei tech over the company’s “unacceptable risk” to national security. Committee member Guoqing Chen, meanwhile, cofounded majority state-owned Hainan Airlines, while fellow member Chi Wang serves as president of the U.S.-China Policy Foundation, which has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in funding from Huawei, CCP-run newspaper China Daily, and China’s largest state-owned banks.

Those affiliations may explain why Chinese president Xi Jinping praised the Committee of 100 as a “friendly group” in 2015. They may also explain why the CCP’s “United Front” system—which aims to advance Beijing’s interests by influencing foreign individuals—has used the committee to pressure members to “toe the Party line,” according to a 2019 Hoover Institution report. Some of the committee’s former leaders, meanwhile, are reportedly part of that system. Former committee director George Koo is an “overseas director” of the China Overseas Friendship Association, a CCP-led foreign influence group, according to the Hoover report. Former Committee of 100 chair and current member H. Roger Wang is an honorary chairman of the association’s local branch in Nanjing, Newsweek reported in 2020.

The Committee of 100, which did not return a request for comment, has denied allegations that it is linked to the CCP. But the nonprofit’s support for controversial CCP initiatives is well documented. In 2018, then-committee chair Wang toldChina Daily that the committee should “get actively involved” in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, a CCP tool used to subjugate foreign nations through direct infrastructure investment. The committee also vocally opposed a Trump-era effort to prosecute Chinese spies but has refrained from condemning Beijing for its Uyghur genocide, Mark Simon, a former senior executive at the pro-democracy Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, wrote in a 2019 column.

“The Committee of 100 is a pro-Beijing group, concerned almost exclusively with the interests aligned with those of the Chinese Communist Party,” Simon wrote. “In all their discussions about the US-China relationship try to find any significant objection to the actions of the CCP. You won’t.”

The committee’s attacks on Steel ultimately did not sink the Republican. Steel in November defeated Chen by 5 points in California’s 45th Congressional District, which is home to nearly 150,000 Asian-American voters and which President Joe Biden carried by 6 points just two years ago. Steel’s success in a district with a large Asian-American presence, a veteran Republican operative told the Free Beacon, shows that the Republican Party’s push to combat China will remain at the center of the party’s electoral message for cycles to come. And if Democrats turn to groups such as the Committee of 100 to brand that message “racist,” it will only bolster Republicans, the operative argued.

Click here to read the entire article at the Washington Free Beacon

US House Races in California Could Shape Future of Congress

U.S. House battles took shape in heavily Democratic California that could tip the balance of power in Congress, while former Trump administration Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was in a tight match to claim the Republican nomination for a new House seat in Montana.

In Mississippi, two Republican congressmen were forced into runoffs to keep their seats. Rep. Steven Palazzo had been dogged by ethics questions over his campaign spending, while Rep. Michael Guest faced a challenger who criticized his vote on a proposal to create an outside commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Primary elections across seven states Tuesday set up November contests in dozens of races, as Democrats look to protect the party’s fragile majority in the House.

In a diverse district anchored in California’s Orange County, Republican U.S. Rep. Michelle Steel, a South Korean immigrant, will face Democrat Jay Chen. The district, which includes the nation’s largest Vietnamese American community, is widely considered a toss-up.

In other districts in the nation’s most populous state, two Republican House members were trying to surmount challenges tied to former President Donald Trump: One voted to support Trump’s impeachment after the U.S. Capitol insurrection, while the other fought against it.

A look at results in key U.S. House races Tuesday:

BATTLEGROUND CALIFORNIA: TRUMP HISTORY LOOMS IN KEY DISTRICTS

In 2020, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia won a narrow victory in a Democratic-leaning district north of Los Angeles. The former Navy fighter pilot was endorsed by Trump that year, then joined House Republicans who rejected electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania and opposed Trump’s impeachment after the Capitol insurrection. That record will be a focus for Democrat Christy Smith, who earned a chance for a rematch with Garcia, after losing two years ago.

In a Democratic-tilting district in the state’s Central Valley farm belt, Republican Rep. David Valadao is highlighting an independent streak while contending with GOP fallout for his vote to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection. Early returns showed him holding an edge over Republican Chris Mathys, who made Valadao’s vote a centerpiece in his campaign to oust him. The winner will face Democrat Rudy Salas, a state legislator.

California uses a top-two election format in which only the two leading vote-getters advance to the November general election, regardless of party.

In the Central Valley, Republican Connie Conway won a special election to complete the term of former Rep. Devin Nunes, who resigned to head Trump’s media company.

TWO MISSISSIPPI CONGRESSMEN FORCED INTO RUNOFFS

A pair of GOP congressmen in Mississippi are headed to June 28 runoffs.

U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, first elected in 2010, will face Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell after failing to win the GOP nomination outright on Tuesday, earning less than 50% of the vote.

A 2021 report by the Office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to believe” Palazzo, a military veteran who serves on the Appropriations and Homeland Security committees, abused his office by misspending campaign funds, doing favors for his brother and enlisting staff for political and personal errands. His then-spokesperson, Colleen Kennedy, said the probe was based on politically motivated “false allegations.”

In another Mississippi district, U.S. Rep. Michael Guest will face former Navy pilot Michael Cassidy in a district that cuts through parts of central Mississippi.

Cassidy criticized Guest for being in the minority of Republicans who voted to create an outside commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — a group that would have been separate from the congressional committee now conducting the investigation. Cassidy also says on his website that President Joe Biden should be impeached.

FORMER TRUMP CABINET MEMBER SEEKS RETURN TRIP TO WASHINGTON

Montana gained a second congressional district this year thanks to its growing population, and Zinke, an Interior Department secretary under Trump, is one of five Republicans on the primary ballot for the open seat.

Zinke’s rivals have been drawing attention to his troubled tenure at the agency, which was marked by multiple ethics investigations. One investigation determined Zinke lied to an agency ethics official about his continued involvement in a commercial real estate deal in his hometown. He’s faced a smear campaign over his military service from the extreme right wing of his party and questions about his residency following revelations that his wife declared a house in California as her primary residence.

Zinke, a former Navy SEAL and former Montana congressman, was in a tight race Wednesday against former state Sen. Al “Doc” Olszewski, an orthopedic surgeon and hard-line conservative who has tried to paint Zinke as a “liberal insider.” The results of the race were being delayed because of ballot printing errors that forced officials in one county to count votes by hand.

The winner will face Olympic rower and attorney Monica Tranel, a Democrat, in the general election.

IOWA’S SOLE DEMOCRATIC HOUSE MEMBER FACES A TOUGH FIGHT

A Republican state senator has captured the slot to take on Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne this fall in a newly drawn district that appears more favorable for the GOP.

Axne is the only Democrat in Iowa’s House delegation.

State Sen. Zach Nunn easily outdistanced rivals Nicole Hasso, a financial services worker, and Gary Leffler, who works in the construction industry, to claim the GOP spot. Nunn, an Air Force pilot who has served in the Legislature since 2014 and has worked to cut taxes, was the best known among the GOP contenders.

In previous elections, Axne was elevated by her strong support in the Des Moines area, even as she struggled in rural counties that typically lean Republican. The new district includes several counties in southern Iowa known to turn out strongly for Republicans, increasing the pressure on Axne to drive up her numbers in Democrat-friendly Des Moines and its suburbs.

REMATCH COMING IN NEW JERSEY HOUSE BATTLEGROUND

In what could be New Jersey’s most closely watched contest in the fall, Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski and Republican Tom Kean Jr. won their primaries, setting up a rematch of their closely contested 2020 race.

Malinowski, a State Department official in the Obama administration, is seeking a third term as his party faces headwinds heading into the general election. His district added more Republican-leaning towns during redistricting, making his reelection bid potentially more difficult.

Another complicating factor is an ethics investigation he’s facing over stock transactions in medical and tech companies that had a stake in the pandemic response. A report from the Office of Congressional Ethics said the board found “substantial reason to believe” he failed to properly disclose or report his stock transactions.

Malinowski said his failure to initially disclose the transactions was “a mistake that I own 100%.” He said he didn’t direct or even ask questions about trades made by his brokerage firm.

Kean, a former state Senate minority leader and the son of the former two-term Republican governor, said in a tweet that he was humbled by his victory and looks forward to seizing the seat in November.

Click here to read the full article in the AP News

Competitive Orange County House races draw big money

Democratic House incumbents in Orange County are ramping up fundraising as they head into the 2020 election, according to financial reports posted this week with the Federal Election Commission. But a few Republican challengers raised nearly as much — or even more — in the second quarter of the year than the Congress members they’re trying to unseat.

The biggest local GOP haul for the quarter that started April 1 and ended June 30 came from Michelle Steel, who serves as a county supervisor and is challenging Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Laguna Beach, in the coastal 48th District.

Steel took in $536,023 in funds after entering the CA-48 race one month into the second quarter. But that does include $100,000 that Steel gave to her own campaign, with 80 percent of the remaining funds from individual donors. She had $516,928 in cash on hand. …

Click here to read the full article from the Orange County Register

Michelle Steel’s Chance


After the 2012 presidential election, politicians, pundits and pollsters were obsessing over the staggering 71 percent of the Hispanic vote that President Obama received. What many ignored was the fact that there was an even more incredible figure about a racial group that had, until recently, voted Republican. That group is Asian Americans, giving Obama 73 percent of their vote on Election Day.

In Orange County, Republicans are trying to change that. One of those Republicans trying to change this status quo is Michelle Steel, currently the highest-ranking Republican constitutional officer in California and candidate for Orange County’s Second Supervisorial District.

Born in South Korea, Steel came to the United States and received degrees from Pepperdine and USC. While studying at Pepperdine, she met Shawn Steel while taking tennis lessons at the Ambassador Hotel. He noticed her because “she looked like she could really hit that ball and slam it well.” Soon after that first encounter at the tennis courts, they started dating.  Her now-husband, Shawn Steel is a former Chairman of the California Republican Party and currently serves as California’s Republican National Committeeman. Married in 1981, they settled in Palos Verdes and, then, Orange County with their two children, Cheyenne and Siobhan.

While in college, Steel worked at her mother’s clothing store. She had to support her mother, who didn’t speak English. And because her parents were hard-working small business owners, Steel has “always been about family values, smaller government and not accepting government handouts. I’m a first generation immigrant, and as a first generation immigrant, I had to be a Republican.” These conservative values would be put into great effect as CA government policies often attempt to abuse small business owners.

Steel’s mother encountered these abusive policies and regulations when she owned her clothing shop. The Board of Equalization accused her of cheating the state out of her taxes, and knowing that it would be impossible for her to fight the government and win, Steel explained, “My mom paid the taxes she didn’t owe, along with the penalty and interest on top of it.” Seeing this direct abuse by the government, Steel became actively interested in politics. “I can’t just sit at home and be a housewife. I wanted to be a bridge” between the people and their representatives in government.

At first, Shawn tried to keep her from going into politics, attempting to protect her. But he could not hold back her desire to help small business owners and implement the conservative values her experiences have instilled in her.

Her first political position was an appointment by then-mayor of Los Angeles, Richard Riordan, to the Los Angeles Fire Commission. And in the years following, she secured positions on multiple national boards including the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

After she was elected to the Board of Equalization, which is the state agency in charge of taxation, she saved California taxpayers $42 million in 2007 alone. Last year, she returned over $200 million back to the taxpayers through her efforts at BOE. Representing more than 8 million people — a quarter of California’s population — she has stood in defense of the taxpayer when it comes to pocketbook issues and has tried to save the people of California from abusive taxation by the government. Her experience on the BOE would be a worthy asset to her as supervisor because, as Steel points out, she “works with taxpayers. I work with them individually. Looking at the budget, I know how to save.”

This contrasts with her opponent, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, who Steel claims “has always been about public offices and never really worked in the private sector.” Because of her prior experience, Steel knows “how the private sector is trying to survive” under the weight of California’s massive amount of taxes and regulation. Assemblyman Mansoor, who has held elective office for the past 12 years, “was the one who raised taxes” on his fellow Californians according to Steel.

As the country’s highest-ranking Korean American elected official and the highest-ranking Republican woman in California, Steel knows how to reach out to both women and minorities, two groups with which Republicans need to make serious inroads. “The Republican Party is changing. We need to learn how to relay our message because we are not really good at that,” as exhibited in recent elections. Her endorsements from countless Republican officials, conservative organizations, and community leaders demonstrate the confidence people have in her and what she is capable of accomplishing for her constituents.

Steel’s life story, her conservative beliefs, and her appeal to both women and minorities represent a bright light in, what could be, a fading future for the Republican Party. Hopefully, voters will see that and elect Michelle Steel, the taxpayer’s advocate, as Orange County Supervisor.

Tyler Warman is a junior attending Hillsdale College, where he studies politics and classical education. Tyler can be reached at twarman@hillsdale.edu.