The long arm of Beijing is reaching into U.S. universities and grasping control of student organizations, according to recent reports. A web of bribes, spies, and political pressure is leading dozens of Chinese student groups across the United States to carry out the directives of their local Chinese Consulates to suppress and slander groups not to the liking of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The list of universities affected is long and diverse: Columbia University, New York University, the University of Rochester, U.C. San Diego, U.C. Santa Cruz, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. These schools and many more all have a Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) or its equivalent with a political or financial connection to their local Chinese Consulate.
The University of Tennessee’s CSSA financial statement from 2005 showed that 80 percent of its budget, or $1,400, came from funds disbursed by “PRC Embassy.” There are at least 109 CSSAs across the United States, and now questions are being raised whether any others have similar connections to consulates.
The CSSA at Columbia University is a case in point. Its constitution boasts: “Reviewed by: Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York.” Until a few weeks ago, its advisory board had only two members: Fanglin Ai and Da Yao, both officials from the Chinese Consulate in New York.
At some point in the last several weeks, after an article in The Epoch Times noted its suspicious advisory board, the club added two non-Chinese advisors from the university.
The Chinese Consulate appears to lead CSSA members to disrupt activities that may embarrass the communist regime.
For example, on April 20, 2007, Columbia University held a forum entitled “China’s New Genocide.” Among the speakers was renowned Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, whose report entitled “Bloody Harvest” details 31 pieces of evidence showing that adherents of the persecuted spiritual practice Falun Gong are having their internal organs forcibly removed in China’s state-controlled hospitals and sold illegally for transplants.
Two dozen members of Columbia’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association came to disrupt the forum, attempting to refute the speakers. They carried signs with communist slogans and hate speech. Two of the students had to be removed by campus police for unruly behavior. (CSSA advisor Consul Da Yao would not comment, and hung up when telephoned by The Epoch Times.)
In addition, Columbia’s CSSA Web site has nine articles that were posted after the April 20 forum. Each one slanders Falun Gong, and each is reposted from the Web site of the Chinese Embassy in Washington.
Columbia’s CSSA and its members also receive funding from the Chinese Consulate, according to a series of e-mails forwarded to The Epoch Times by a student on the CSSA mailing list. An e-mail from April 23, 2002 promised that members would be paid $30 each to join a welcoming group for Hu Jintao. Four years later, before Hu Jintao was scheduled to speak at Yale University, CSSA list members received an e-mail promising a free bus trip to New Haven, Connecticut, free breakfast, free lunch, and a free shopping trip to the Woodbury Outlet Mall. The busses alone would have cost more than $1000, and were not covered by Columbia University.
New York University has a similar situation. Its Chinese Culture Club, similar to Columbia’s CSSA, tried to stop a Chinese classical dance competition from being held at NYU’s Skirball Center.
The reasoning behind Chinese students trying to stop the cultural event lies with the dance competition’s producer: New Tang Dynasty Television, a nonprofit Chinese TV network that often reports critically on China’s communist regime. The Chinese regime sees the TV network as such a threat that it has tried to disrupt nearly every major event the New York-based network has held in the past five years. The dance competition (which, after much ado, was held successfully last weekend) was no exception.
An investigation by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong shows that the NYU’s Chinese Culture Club was acting under the advice, if not direct control, of the Chinese Consulate to disrupt the event.
Bribes and spies
A decade ago, Ms. Yanping Lu served as chair of the CSSA at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. She told The Epoch Times that, at the time, she did not fully realize the Chinese Consulate was using her for espionage. She accepted small gifts from the consulate—on the order of $300 each—as a matter of routine and did not think about it further. Eventually, the consulate asked her to collect data on fellow students.
“Once, the consulate wanted me to collect information on all the students and scholars to compile a list. At first I felt this was a good idea because people could get to know and help each other,” said Lu. “Later, I felt more and more uneasy. When I think about it now, I realize that was actually spying.”
Mr. Yunqing You was elected president of the University of Minnesota CSSA in 2002. Soon he was introduced to a Chicago consular official named Jiacai Cheng. During the year that You was president, Cheng mailed him $3,000 in checks under his name.
“In fact, the so-called activity funds given by the consulate were not given to the student association,” You told The Epoch Times. “Instead, the funds were given to the president individually... The checks are a direct bribe to the president. The consulate withholds checks if their directives are not followed by the president.”
According to a former visiting professor at Yale University, Dr. Yuming Zhang, the Chinese regime has a large number of spies in the United States. An acquaintance of his working in the Chinese Consulate, who wishes to remain anonymous, disclosed to Dr. Zhang that, “The Chinese Consulate has placed people inside all student associations, Chinese churches, Chinese newspapers, Chinese communities, democratic organizations, and Falun Gong groups around New York. Their responsibilities are to gather information, propagandize the Chinese Communist Party’s ideology, and sow discord.”
Mr. Jianzhong Li was president of the Caltech Chinese Association in 1996. In an article submitted to The Epoch Times last month, he wrote, “At the time, nearly all the Chinese students’ activities in southern California were organized by me and a college classmate of mine under the orders of the Chinese Consulate in L.A.”
In 1998, after leaving the Chinese student organization, Mr. Li learned that the FBI had been monitoring his activities, and continues to monitor active members of numerous Chinese student groups across the country believed to be under Chinese Communist Party control.
Mr. Lixin Yang, a three-term vice-president of the CSSA at a university in Brussels, Belgium told New Tang Dynasty Television in an interview that he feels sorry for the students who get caught up with the Communist Party’s politics. “Many Chinese students studying overseas think that maintaining a good relationship with the Chinese Consulates is a way to show their patriotism; they love their country, but have erroneously equated the Chinese communist regime with China... I think that in reality Chinese students oftentimes may not know the orders issued by the consulates and the real purpose behind those orders, most of which have political goals.”