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Senator Marco Rubio Op-ed: Democrats’ Voting Rules Takeover Is a Threat to Democracy


Commentary BY: Sen. MARCO RUBIO | JANUARY 12, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/01/12/democrats-voting-rules-takeover-is-a-threat-to-democracy/

Chuck Schumer

When Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Senate Democrats’ New Year’s resolution to abolish the filibuster and ram through a partisan federal takeover of election administration, he framed it as an attempt to protect “free and fair elections,” the “foundation of our democracy,” from state governments. In reality, it is the leftist elites and their corporate allies, not the states, that pose the greatest threat to our constitutional system.

Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy, but the Democrats’ concerns about election rights are totally baseless. Progressives from all over the country — from President Joe Biden to Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Schumer  claim that Republicans are passing “voter suppression laws” to exclude their political opponents from the vote.

In reality, it is easier to vote in 2022 than it ever has been. Voter registration has been streamlined, and record turnouts show that Americans of all backgrounds are freely exercising their rights.

The left’s proposed reforms would restrict Americans’ freedom, not expand it. Legalizing ballot harvesting, for instance, would present more opportunities for corruption.

More generally, taking election administration powers away from the states and handing them to the federal government would not eliminate the potential for abusing those powers, it would just make it easier for officials in Washington, D.C., to abuse them — and it would further undermine our system of federalism.

In 2020, when election integrity fears swept other parts of the country, the state of Florida conducted its elections with peace, security from interference, and respect for all citizens, all in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. This is proof that with strong leadership, state governments are perfectly capable of holding the responsibility of election administration. Ironically, this year will be the first time that the president’s home state of Delaware allows in-person early voting, whereas Florida has had it for years. 

Left’s Broader Effort to Consolidate Power

Democrats’ campaign to centralize elections is part of a broader effort to consolidate power in the hands of a leftist elite class. This class wants to use that power to silence and disempower anyone who dissents from their radical progressive agenda.

Case in point: the very same people who said in 2005 that restricting the filibuster would mean losing to “the passions of the moment” and spell “doomsday for democracy” — Biden and Schumer  — want to eliminate the rule now that they are in power.

This power grab masquerading as democracy reform is bigger than just what goes on in the Senate. In 2020, leftist politicians closed churches and restricted in-home religious services while they let political protests, and eventually full-scale riots, go unnoticed. In 2021, critical race theory advocates indoctrinated our children and tried to remove parents from our schools. And this year, the Biden administration will begin forcing millions of Americans to get a Covid-19 vaccine to keep their jobs.

Collaboration from Communists and Corporations

In this movement, the political left has been aided by social media giants and mega-corporations. To gain favor with the Marxists in Washington, D.C., Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter censor dissenting voices, labeling unpopular views as “misinformation.” Amazon blacklists conservative authors. And banks that taxpayers bailed out in 2008 cancel accounts based on Orwellian “reputational risk.”

Of course, behind closed doors many of these same companies are in bed with a genocidal regime, the Chinese Communist Party. While they are eager to appear human rights champions, they lobby for trading goods made with slave labor and protect communist propaganda from negative customer reviews. It makes sense that corporations comfortable with totalitarianism abroad would be happy to silence dissent in the United States.

Those of us who are not on board with the progressive agenda should take note. America is still a free nation, and it will take some time before the situation here begins to resemble the dystopia that is communist China. But if it can happen anywhere, it can happen here, and censorship and consolidation of power are two important steps on the road to tyranny.

Americans need to remember where the greatest threats to our democracy really lie. If we focus our attention on exaggerated problems and imaginary fears, rather than the leftist elite power grab unfolding before our very eyes, we do so at our own peril.


Senator Mike Lee Op-ed: Big Tech Insists They’re Protecting Americans From China While Importing Chinese-Style Social Controls


Mike Lee

Commentary By Mike Lee | OCTOBER 22, 2021

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2021/10/22/big-tech-insists-theyre-protecting-americans-from-china-while-importing-chinese-style-social-controls/

If you need evidence that Big Tech firms are starting to worry about the growing movement to diffuse their immense market power, look no further than their newest scare tactic: using China as an excuse to avoid antitrust scrutiny.

Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and the nonprofit proxies they pay to defend them have put a lot of effort into trying to convince America that subjecting Big Tech to more stringent antitrust enforcement or regulation would have dire consequences. They’ve warned that innovation would suffer, but that rings hollow when so many of the new innovative companies are already being bought up (and then often shut down) by Big Tech.

They’ve suggested that antitrust action might result in the loss of the free services we’ve come to depend upon. But how do they call their services “free” when we pay for them by giving them all of our personal data, which they store and monetize, and when they rely on our content to make their platforms valuable in the first place?

Big Tech firms have told us we should be grateful for the superior quality of their services, which could suffer if they were broken up. But then again, one could argue that Google Search was better before it was filled with ads.

YouTube was better before its algorithms tried to corrupt our children and amplify the reach of terrorists. Facebook was better before it censored people of faith and conservatives, while protecting those who post revenge porn. Instagram was better before it drove our teenagers to anxiety and depression. Amazon was better before it silenced conservative authors and raised questions about its influence on a multibillion-dollar defense contract.

Having failed with each of those claims, Big Tech has turned to a new bogeyman: China. Antitrust enforcement actions against Big Tech—or legislation aimed at restoring and protecting competition in Big Tech markets—would risk crippling America’s ability to combat the growing threat from Communist China, or so the line goes. The cynicism would be offensive if the argument weren’t so laughable.

It’s not just lobbyists bringing these arguments to my office and others on Capitol Hill. Earlier this summer, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in an interview, “These gross proposals like breaking them up and so forth, it’s not going to be helpful because it’s going to set us back against China.”

Last month, the National Security Institute began a series “examining the national security implications of antitrust challenges at home and abroad.” The first panel featured Big Tech defenders suggesting the antitrust laws were written for late-19th-century monopolists and are too outdated to deal with Big Tech, and that Big Tech is a driver for research that is essential to national security. Antitrust scrutiny, they implied, might hinder the companies’ ability to compete with China, who won’t be imposing the same restraints on their own companies.

Like every other excuse Big Tech has made, this too rings hollow and we should flatly reject it. That doesn’t mean the antitrust laws should be enforced in the absence of actual anticompetitive harm. Nor does it mean that we should radically alter our antitrust laws to embrace a “big is bad” philosophy. But the idea that Big Tech should be treated with kid gloves makes no sense. The fact is, American ingenuity is strong enough to compete and win on the merits without coddling or amnesty from our antitrust laws.

Competition, and the innovation and disruption that facilitate it, are what made these companies American success stories. That same competition, innovation, and disruption are what will keep them at their best or make way for the next great American success story. You see, competition in Big Tech doesn’t threaten American, it threatens the monopolists—and that makes America stronger.

Insulating American companies from competition out of a fear of foreign competitors will do the opposite of what Big Tech claims to want: we will be stuck with stagnant monopolists too complacent either to benefit American consumers or to protect us from foreign threats.

In fact, it is Big Tech companies themselves that pose the greatest threat when it comes to China. They not only can’t protect us from foreign threats, but in some cases actively cooperate with them.

Google has been accused of working with the Chinese military, and has acknowledged developing a filtered version of its search engine to satisfy Chinese censors. Amazon has been working with a Chinese partner to expand its web-hosting services in the highly censored country.

The New York Times revealed earlier this year that Apple—which assembles nearly all of its products in China— has stored data on Chinese government servers, shared customer data with the Chinese government, removed apps from its App Store to appease the Chinese government, and banned apps from a critic of the Chinese Communist Party. The Times also alleged that Facebook was courting the Chinese government in 2016 by developing a censorship tool. Facebook has admitted to sharing data with Chinese state-owned companies, and last year it undertook to expand its Chinese ad business.

These are the benevolent corporate heroes who are going to save us from the Chinese threat? Give me a break.

Far from saving us, it seems like the habits of their new Chinese friends are rubbing off on our Big Tech big brothers. In a way, Silicon Valley is helping America keep up with China: now we too have censored speech on the internet, constant surveillance, and tightly controlled marketplaces.

Instead of embracing the very crony capitalism that has been so destructive to American prosperity in the past, American firms should spend more energy competing on the merits for Americans’ business, and less time cozying up to Chinese bureaucrats. The free market should pick winners and losers, not Communist apparatchiks.

This whole episode leads me to only one conclusion: insisting that antitrust enforcers pull their punches or risk impairing our ability to face the threats from China is nothing short of corporate extortion, a protection racket at a global scale. What we need is more competition, and less protectionism. The only way we will defeat the economic threat of communist China is by empowering American businesses to challenge and disrupt the would-be Chinese collaborators that make up Big Tech.

The hypocrisy is glaring: Big Tech wants to assist Communist China in exchange for access to its economy, while pointing to the Chinese threat as an excuse for anticompetitive and monopolistic conduct in the United States. Americans deserve better, and we should refuse to entertain this disingenuous and insulting excuse.

Mike Lee is a U.S. Senator from Utah and author of “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document.”

OP-ED: Cash, COVID, and cover-up, part 4: The virus that didn’t bark


Reported by LEON WOLF and CHRIS PANDOLFO | September 24, 2021 | JOHANNES EISELE / Staff / Xinhua News Agency / Contributor

Read more at https://www.theblaze.com/op-ed/cash-covid-and-coverup-part-4-the-virus-that-didn-t-bark/

Click here for part 1 of this series: Cash, COVID, and cover-up, part 1: The questions we should have asked of Fauci about the origins of COVID-19

Click here for part 2 of this series: Cash, COVID, and cover-up, part 2: The gain-of-function controversy

Click here for part 3 of this series: Cash, COVID, and cover-up, part 3: ‘You will have tasks today that must be done’

In the classic short story “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once famously had Sherlock Holmes solve a case based on what might be called the absence of a key piece of evidence. And while Holmes’ solution of the case might have been a bit of an unwarranted leap, sometimes the absence of evidence can be quite compelling, especially when it appears that evidence was likely destroyed. If a woman is found dead, and the next day her husband vanishes, leaving behind a house that has been scrubbed floor-to-ceiling with bleach, well … it doesn’t prove he murdered her, but pretty much everyone will have justified suspicions to that effect unless some compelling evidence surfaces to the contrary.

In examining whether the lab-leak theory is true or not, it is difficult to come to a hard and fast conclusion based on scientific evidence; however, that’s not because the science is in some way necessarily unclear. That’s because the Chinese government has gone to extraordinary lengths to destroy evidence and hamper any investigation into what happened at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China.

That transparently obvious effort to cover up the truth is, in and of itself, a compelling piece of evidence.

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Many years ago, the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC) was created as a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health’s GenBank, the European Nucleotide Archive, and the DNA Databank of Japan. Information on the INSDC is available to the public as one of its foundational principles, which means that any person with access to the internet can find information about genetic sequences that have been uploaded to those databanks. In theory, this means virtually all genetic manipulations that have been the subject of any research project that has been published, since most scientific publications require genetic sequences to be deposited in the INSDC prior to publication.

The INSDC exists for several reasons, but one of the most important reasons is that if, say, an infectious disease pandemic breaks out somewhere in the world, scientists are supposed to be able to compare its genetic sequence to other known genetic sequences in order to quickly pinpoint the potential source of the virus; this information can help develop early treatments.

When the COVID-19 outbreak began, biologists began a similar search and did not find any likely candidates — until, that is, Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology conveniently uploaded the sequence of a virus she called RaTG13 into GenBank on Jan. 23, 2020, shortly after the pandemic entered the public consciousness. RaTG13, as the story went, was collected from a cave in Yunnan province in 2013, and its genetic sequence matched the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 by 96.3% — making it the first plausible natural ancestor to SARS-CoV-2.

The public opponents of the lab-leak theory latched on to RaTG13 as a savior. Here, at last, was a virus that had been found in the wild that was really quite close to SARS-CoV-2. The fact that it was miraculously unearthed just as the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic was gaining widespread global public attention in a laboratory that coincidentally was housed in the city where the pandemic began was apparently not a source of concern to these scientists. It was, for example, prominently referenced in what would become the seminal scientific article arguing for a natural origin of the pandemic, “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2.”

The immediate question that arises, given this sequence of events, is why, if RaTG13 was collected in May 2013 (as Shi claims), was it not uploaded to GenBank until after a pandemic caused by a virus that was so closely related to it began? Well, that is because China does not participate in the INSDC. The WIV, China’s first biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) facility, decided to keep genetic sequences discovered and/or created in their lab in its own proprietary database.

Implausibly, the United States government appears to have been OK with this arrangement and even approved taxpayer funding of research conducted in China that contained no guarantee that the United States would be provided with the results of that research, including the genetic sequences of viruses being studied.

Allow that to sink in for a moment: Your tax dollars were used to conduct research in a foreign country, with the express understanding that the foreign country was not obligated to even share the results of that research with the United States government, much less its public.

Well, you might be thinking, what’s so bad about allowing the Chinese government to maintain control over its own data? Surely we can just go to the WIV’s database and perform an additional search there?

As you may have already guessed, we cannot. The reason: The Wuhan Institute of Virology took its entire database offline.

When, you might ask, did this event occur? In what is surely merely a spectacular coincidence, the WIV databases were pulled down on Sept. 12, 2019, which is probably a pretty good approximation of the actual date the first human was infected with SARS-CoV-2.

The Chinese government’s official story is that the WIV databases were pulled down because they were under attack by hackers. This might have been a plausible story, had the databases been pulled down after the pandemic became public knowledge and internet sleuths began aggressively investigating the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It is not a plausible story for why the databases had to be pulled down in September 2019, before anyone in the world had even heard of COVID-19 and before there was virtually any internet interest in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In a separate article published by researchers at the WIV, the WIV further claimed, perhaps by way of explanation as to why the genetic sequence of RaTG13 was unknown to the scientific community prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, that its scientists had never fully sequenced the virus before and only did so after the pandemic began, when they discovered that a “short region of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) from a bat coronavirus (BatCoV RaTG13) — which was previously detected in Rhinolophus affinis from Yunnan province — showed high sequence identity to 2019-nCoV.” According to the authors of this paper, who again worked at the WIV, at this point they finally “carried out full-length sequencing on this RNA sample,” whereupon it was uploaded to GenBank, thus showing that “the close phylogenetic relationship to RaTG13 provides evidence that 2019-nCoV may have originated in bats.”

Normal people, possessed of even a moderately healthy sense of skepticism, would have looked at this chain of events and concluded that the Chinese government obviously had something to hide. EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak, on the other hand, who would repeatedly lambaste proponents of the lab-leak theory as crackpots and conspiracy theorists, apparently found nothing untoward in what was happening. In a London Times interview, he uncritically repeated Shi’s assertion that RaTG13 had been discovered while Chinese researchers were exploring a cave where six miners had died in a now-abandoned mine in Tongguan, whereupon they threw it in a freezer and forgot about it until 2020.

The “crackpots” and “conspiracy theorists” would soon be vindicated in their suspicions about the miraculous and entirely-too-convenient “discovery” of the supposedly thrown-in-a-freezer-and-forgotten RaTG13.

In the first place, DRASTIC sleuths began to notice that the genetic sequence to RaTG13 shared a curious affinity — a 100% affinity, in fact — with a partially revealed genetic sequence from a virus that was then called BtCOV/4991. DRASTIC members noted that not only were the two viruses genetically identical in the brief strip of BtCOV/4991 that had been published, but also the purported collection details of the virus were exactly the same. Faced with a growing paper trail, Shi would finally publicly admit in July 2020 that they were the same virus.

This admission made the entire purported origin story of RaTG13 a lie.

BtCOV/4991 was not collected and then thrown in a freezer and forgotten. It was, in fact, studied extensively by researchers in China, and its discovery and study was discussed in a 2016 paper published by Shi and her colleagues. It was mentioned again in a separate 2019 paper published by Shi and colleagues. Further, during the course of her admission that BtCOV/4991 and RaTG13 were the same virus, Shi made another startling admission: RaTG13 had, in fact, been fully sequenced in 2018, which indicates clearly that a) not only was RaTG13 not thrown in a freezer and forgotten, it was still being actively researched by the Wuhan Institute of Virology five years after its discovery, and b) it was not, as Shi’s colleagues had claimed, only fully sequenced after the pandemic began.

The official story of RaTG13 — that it was discovered in 2013 and then thrown in a freezer and forgotten until someone finally bothered to sequence it after the outbreak of COVID-19 — had now been exposed thoroughly as a lie, even by the concession of the people who originally made the claim. No one has yet been able to extract an answer from Shi or her colleagues as to why they falsely pretended that the full genetic sequence of RaTG13 was only discovered after the pandemic began, or why they pretended (by omission), for several months, that RaTG13 was a different virus from the BtCOV/4991 virus they had already extensively studied and written about.

Internet sleuths were quick to discover that many of the other claims made by Shi about RaTG13 were, at best, highly suspect. Recall that the specific event that precipitated the search of the Tongguan cave was that six miners who worked in the mine had died of a respiratory illness of uncertain etiology. Shi claimed in a March interview with Scientific American that the Tongguan miners had actually died due to a fungal infection they caught in the mine and that it was mere coincidence that during the exploration of the cave, they found RaTG13 — a clear attempt to downplay the lethality of RaTG13. However, DRASTIC member TheSeeker268 unearthed a master’s thesis by Chinese doctor Dr. Li Xu of Kunming Medical University, which clearly stated that the miner deaths were “caused by SARS-like CoV or bat SARS-like coronavirus that has been isolated from the Chinese rufous horseshoe bat.” The symptoms the miners died of were noted to be “identical to what we now call Covid-19.”

Furthermore, TheSeeker268 unearthed a 2016 thesis “written by Huang Canping, a student of Gao Fu, the current director of China CDC … In addition to what was already known, this document clearly states that WIV had tested the four miners (two had died by then); and all four of them had tested positive for SARS-like antibodies.”

Which raises the obvious question: Why would Shi lie and say that miners who died in the cave where the closest natural ancestor to SARS-CoV-2 was discovered actually died of a fungal infection?

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In addition to scrubbing the record of all genetic sequences researched at the WIV, and in addition to the demonstrably false statements from WIV researchers about their discovery of RaTG13, the Chinese government was working overtime in the early days of the pandemic to ruthlessly suppress any information about the pandemic from reaching the general public.

Dr. Li Wenliang, the ophthalmologist who first brought the attention of public awareness to the emerging pandemic, was pressured and threatened by Chinese authorities to recant his statement that the new coronavirus even existed and was infecting people. Li eventually allegedly caught COVID-19 himself and allegedly died from it in a Chinese hospital, despite his young age (34).

The Chinese government also engaged in a breathtaking campaign of internet and social media censorship designed to squash any internal debate — or even discussion — of the pandemic in China. The government campaign even reached into popular chatting app WeChat and livestreaming platform YY and included a shockingly broad list of terms, including, notably, a number of phrases that referenced the “Wuhan lab.”

These efforts were wrapped into China’s well-documented effort to censor and suppress negative coverage of its response to the pandemic as well — efforts that included the expulsion of American journalists and the disappearing of one of China’s most prominent citizens.

The importance of the disappearance of Ren Zhiqiang cannot be overstated in this story. While most Americans have likely never heard of him, he was, before his untimely disappearance, one of China’s most prominent private citizens, and he was involved in a very public criticism of China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Imagine if, say, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suddenly vanished from the face of the earth without a trace during the middle of a Twitter spat with then-President Donald Trump in March 2020, and no government agency seemed particularly interested in finding him, and no one who mattered even asked pointed questions of government officials as to whether they were involved in his departure.

Almost no one believes that Ren is not either dead or imprisoned at the hands of the communist Chinese government at this point, and the Chinese government does not seem particularly interested in combating that perception publicly. Imagine the impression such an event would make upon the average Chinese citizen — or, for that matter, any researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who might feel tempted to contradict the government line about what happened in that laboratory.

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If the censorship campaign the Chinese government conducted against its own citizens was thorough, it was nothing compared to what the Chinese government would do to the international community. From the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, China lied, hid information, and stonewalled World Health Organization researchers as they attempted to learn about the virus.

Publicly, both sides acted as if everyone was getting along. Chinese authorities told WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a Jan. 25, 2020 letter they would welcome international experts to China to help “strengthen epidemic prevention and control.” Tedros met with President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Jan. 28 and praised the Chinese for their openness and transparency. In reality, as the Associated Press would report, China frustrated WHO officials by delaying the release of information, and Tedros and others were only lauding China in public “because they wanted to coax more information out of the government.”

In early January, three different Chinese labs had fully decoded the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, but instead of sharing that information with the world, China sat on it. The virus was first decoded on Jan. 2, but it wasn’t until after the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese scientists had discovered a new coronavirus on Jan. 8, a week later, that Chinese state media announced the discovery of the new coronavirus. China did not include any information about its genome, diagnostic tests, or detailed patient data that would have given scientists a clue about how infectious the disease was.

There was also a two-week period when Chinese officials censored reports of new infections in Wuhan. Operating under the belief that infections weren’t spreading, Chinese researchers, unaware of the censorship, told WHO officials that the virus didn’t transmit easily between humans. This led the WHO on Jan. 5 to announce that based on preliminary data from China, there was no evidence of significant transmission between humans and no need for travelers to take precautions. Of course, once the genetic sequence of the virus was made public and it turned out the virus was highly contagious, the WHO was made to look “doubly, incredibly stupid” for downplaying the virus, in the words of Dr. Tom Grein, chief of the WHO’s acute events management team.

Meanwhile, people began getting sick with COVID-19 throughout the region. When one woman fell ill in Thailand on Jan. 8, researchers attempted to match the virus to illnesses that had been reported in China, but the Chinese authorities hadn’t yet published the viral sequences. China’s obfuscation of data about COVID-19 prevented countries from taking steps to mitigate spread early in the pandemic, resulting in people getting sick and dying.

The SARS-CoV-2 sequence wasn’t published until Jan. 11, when a team led by Chinese virologist Zhang Yongzhen angered Chinese authorities by uploading the virus to virological.org. The next day, Zhang’s lab was temporarily shut down. But now that the viral sequence was out there, the Chinese CDC, Wuhan Institute of Virology, and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences each published their viral sequences for SARS-CoV-2 to GISAID, a platform for scientists to share data on viruses. The WHO’s first investigative team arrived in Wuhan on Jan. 14. One of the team’s tasks was to visit the Huanan Seafood Market, where scientists believed the virus’ first major outbreak took place, but from the beginning there was uncertainty about where Chinese authorities would allow the researchers to go and who they would be permitted to talk to. China had strongly opposed an independent investigation that it could not fully control, and before the terms of the investigation were agreed to, the WHO complained that China was taking too long to finalize arrangements for the investigators.

But after senior WHO delegation met with Chinese officials in Beijing on Jan. 28, Tedros made no public mention of China’s obstruction in the hope that the Chinese would be more forthcoming in the future. On Jan. 30, the WHO declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of global concern. In the following months, WHO researchers continued to work with Chinese and on March 11, 2020 WHO declared COVID-19 could be characterized as a pandemic.

In May, the 73rd World Health Assembly charged WHO Director-General Tedros to form an international investigative team “to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population.” But even the vote on this resolution was delayed as Chinese officials “were negotiating over every comma,” as one former U.S. official described to the Wall Street Journal.

Chinese officials continued to play hardball with the WHO until in July 2020 an agreement was reached for a “terms and references” document that stated the goals of the investigation, was silent on the lab-leak theory, and gave China veto power over who would be on the WHO team.

The WHO investigative commission that eventually formed was fatally flawed by the prominent inclusion of one Peter Daszak in its ranks.

Daszak, by way of reminder, had been literally the global and public ringleader of the group of scientists who had been publicly ridiculing lab-leak theory proponents and attempting to quash public discussion of their theory for over a year. He was also the president of an organization that had for years funneled significant amounts of money to the lab he was purporting to investigate and that had widely publicized its frequent collaboration with that lab — meaning that if the lab-leak theory were true, he would be one of the first people in the public hot seat.

Sending Daszak as part of the team was grossly inappropriate not only because of the obvious conflicts of interest he was subject to, but also because, even in the absence of those conflicts of interests, Daszak had publicly and loudly made up his mind about the subject of the investigation before it even began.

Daszak was, in fact, the only scientist from the United States who was part of the WHO’s investigative team.

However, that did not stop the Chinese from stonewalling anyway. On Jan. 5 2021, some members of the Team began their journey to China, only for Chinese officials to deny the WHO team entry into the country for several days until Jan. 14.

After two weeks of quarantine, the WHO investigation proceeded under severe restrictions. According to the Wall Street Journal, the team was restricted to one part of their hotel by quarantine rules, forced to eat separately from their Chinese partners, and had limited contact with anyone outside the team. They proceeded to take a propaganda tour visiting the hospital where Beijing claims the first COVID-19 case was officially reported, another hospital where they visited an exhibition commemorating President Xi’s leadership, and cold-storage facilities at the Huanan market where Chinese officials claim the virus entered China from abroad.

Accounts from team members reported by the Journal indicate Chinese authorities refused to share raw data with the investigators, instead handing over their own data analysis. Even the team’s visit to the Wuhan Institute of Virology was limited to only three hours.

Nevertheless, the WHO released a report in February 2021 that determined it was “extremely unlikely” that COVID-19 leaked from a lab, determining instead that the most likely origin of the virus was a zoonotic event — a bat virus transmitting to another animal carrier and then leaping to humans sometime toward the end of 2019. Part of the investigation included inspecting the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s lab, under Chinese supervision, and WHO team leader Peter Ben Embarek said that the safety protocols at the lab led them to conclude “it was very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place.”

But the WHO investigation has since been highly criticized. On March 2, 2021, two dozen experts, including virologists, signed an open letter that called for a new international investigation on the origins of COVID-19. They said that the WHO did not have the independence or access “to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation” into the lab-leak theory. During a “60 Minutes” interview in March, Jamie Metzl, an advisory board member for WHO and one of the letter’s signatories, said the WHO team “didn’t demand access to the records and samples and key personnel” while they visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology. He blamed China for denying the investigators access to those materials. Metzl further said that the WHO agreed to let China do the “primary investigation” into the origins of the virus and then share its findings with the team.

Daszak’s inclusion on the team, in particular, led to entirely predictable results.

Speaking to “60 Minutes,” Daszak more or less confirmed that the WHO team’s investigative process, when it came to the Wuhan lab, was to just ask the lab staff questions and take their answers at face value.

“We met with them,” Daszak told Lesley Stahl. “We said, ‘Do you audit the lab?’ And they said, ‘Annually.’ ‘Did it you audit it after the outbreak?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Was anything found?’ ‘No.’ ‘Do you test your staff?’ ‘Yes.’ No one was —”

“But you’re just taking their word for it,” interjected Stahl.

“Well, what else can we do?” Daszak replied.

Incredibly, he argued that the answers the WHO team received from China were “correct and convincing,” even though Chinese authorities had demonstrably worked to suppress information about the virus.

When Stahl pointed out how China had “engaged in a cover-up,” Daszak was dismissive.

“Well, that wasn’t our task to find out if China had covered up the origin issue,” he said.

That jaw-dropping assertion was certainly a surprise to the rest of the world, which was told by the WHO that that was exactly what the purpose of their investigation was, and to Daszak’s fellow investigators, who were charged with going to China to “better understand the origins of the virus,” according to the terms of the report they prepared.

Only someone as thoroughly dedicated to the proposition that there was no chance China could have been in any way dishonest as Daszak could have concluded from such a charge that actually checking out any of the statements made by Chinese scientists was not part of the scope of work. It was as if, seeking to investigate the disappearances of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, the WHO had sent a spokesperson for O.J. Simpson as their lead investigator and was surprised to learn that he didn’t feel like it was his job to question O.J.’s denials.

Governments weren’t happy either. In a joint statement, the United States and 13 other countries raised concerns that China had refused to provide investigators with “complete, original data and samples. Additionally, in apparent contradiction of his own organization’s findings, WHO Director-General Tedros acknowledged on March 30 that “all hypotheses remain on the table,” as to the origins of the virus.

In remarks to WHO member states, Tedros said, “Further data and studies will be needed to reach more robust conclusions.” He called on China to be more forthcoming with data in the future.

China reacted by denying that it hid data from WHO investigators. It accused the West of politicizing the report. At the same time, the Chinese government has shared disinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 being engineered as a bioweapon in the U.S. and brought to China by the U.S. military.

In July 2021, China rejected WHO requests for a renewed investigation in China, asserting that such investigations should be conducted elsewhere. Chinese authorities have also deflected responsibility for COVID-19 by claiming the virus was brought to China via frozen food packaging.

On July 22, Vice Health Minister of the National Health Commission Zeng Yixin slammed the door shut on a second investigation by denouncing the WHO’s request as “arrogant” and “shocking.”

“In some aspects, the WHO’s plan for next phase of investigation of the coronavirus origin doesn’t respect common sense, and it’s against science. It’s impossible for us to accept such a plan,” said Yixin.

With official investigations now thoroughly blocked by China, independent investigations have proceeded but with extremely limited success. The medical journal The Lancet established an international task force to investigate the origins and spread of COVID-19 in November 2020. But the task force was led by Daszak, who in June 2021 was forced to recuse himself after his connections to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and potential conflicts of interest became widespread knowledge.

In June 2021, an American scientist discovered evidence that Chinese researchers deleted SARS-CoV-2 viral sequences from the National Institutes of Health’s Sequence Read Archive (SRA). NIH later confirmed that after Chinese scientists submitted the data in March 2020, they were “requested to be withdrawn” three months later in June. On July 5, 2021, the missing viral sequences reappeared in a database controlled by Chinese authorities. Chinese authorities claimed that the viral sequences were removed and later reuploaded elsewhere to correct a copy-editing error.

The Chinese researchers have not explained why they didn’t mention the copy-editing error when they requested that the NIH take down their sequences, nor why they waited for a year before uploading them to another database. The bottom line, as this episode demonstrated, is that any investigation into COVID-19’s origins remains at the mercy of China’s willingness to be open and transparent — which they are not.

+++++++

What, then, are we to make of the actual scientific evidence about what the virus looks like?

In the absence of being able to access honest records at the WIV, which will likely never happen, or thoroughly examine its lab personnel, which will also likely never happen, the honest answer is: not much.

Scientific opponents of the lab-leak theory have expended a tremendous amount of energy arguing that the genetic features of the virus are consistent with natural evolutionary mutations and that there are no sequences that evince evidence of being an obvious man-made creation. We cannot cast doubt on the veracity of those conclusions, but they are, essentially an argument against a straw man. Very few people have suggested that the virus was specifically engineered as a bioweapon, and even if it was engineered as a bioweapon, surely the Chinese would have taken care to make it look natural.

It ignores, furthermore, two facts that are central to the discussion of this issue.

First, the work undertaken at the WIV (that we know about) specifically involved the creation of chimeric viruses that were intended to mimic possible evolutionary processes. Recall what the ostensible purpose of gain-of-function research is, which is to develop treatments and/or vaccines for viruses that might occur naturally.

Members of the media, who relied on the group of scientists who confidently declared the lab-leak theory a baseless conspiracy theory (most of whom have now backtracked) have assumed that scientists are somehow able to determine that a virus is engineered merely by looking at its genetic structure, as if the process of creating a chimeric virus leaves behind some irrefutable fingerprint, and that in the absence of such a fingerprint, a virus is obviously naturally occurring. That is not how it works.

Although it would certainly be possible to engineer a virus that has characteristics that would be obviously artificial, It is also entirely possible — in fact, it is what people like Ralph Baric have spent the entirety of their professional lives learning to do — to artificially engineer a virus that looks for all the world like a virus that might have evolved naturally. Recall that a central purpose of the gain-of-function research community is to develop vaccines and/or treatments for diseases that don’t yet exist but have a reasonable probability of someday existing in the future. One does not accomplish such a goal by generating viruses that could not possibly be produced by natural evolution.

Every virus created by Shi or Baric in a lab is one that, if you didn’t have access to a research paper telling you they created it, you would look at and say, “Well, this looks like a virus that might have arisen through natural evolutionary processes.” That is the entire point of what these researchers were doing. So pointing out that the viruses don’t look obviously artificial, as has repeatedly been done, is no answer at all, and anyone who confidently tells you that they can tell a virus wasn’t engineered just by looking at it is selling something. We have no way of knowing, as just one example, that RaTG13 itself was not engineered, except to take Shi’s word for it about where she found it. We can’t even verify that it hasn’t been substantially modified since she found it, since the genetic records have been intentionally erased.

One thing that would help us definitively rule out the possibility of a lab leak would be the discovery of an intermediate host, either animal or human, but no such host has yet come forward. These hosts have been found with other respiratory outbreaks, but none have yet come forth for SARS-CoV-2, in spite of the fact that Chinese researchers have, as previously noted, been assiduously collecting and cataloguing samples from bats for years.

The initial prime suspect for intermediate host was the poor pangolin, a kind of anteater that is found in China, based upon the fact that the receptor binding motif (RBM) of SARS-CoV-2 bears striking similarities to SARS strains that have been found in pangolins. Additionally, pangolins were found to be infected with other coronaviruses that were reasonably similar to SARS-CoV-2; however, no pangolins have yet been found to be infected with a virus that could plausibly serve as the actual ancestor to SARS-CoV-2, even though early papers touting a natural origin for the virus heavily promoted the theory that pangolins had served as an intermediate host for the virus between bats and humans.

It also might have helped shed light on the situation if researchers had been permitted to investigate laboratory staff early on in the pandemic, but the Chinese government refused.

The fact of the matter is, as an international group of respected scientists recently wrote in The Lancet, “There is so far no scientifically validated evidence that directly supports a natural origin.”

These scientists challenged the arguments put forward in the “Proximal Origins” letter and elsewhere that ruled out the possibility of the lab-leak theory by showing how proponents of the natural origins explanation fell for a logical fallacy (edited for readability):

The question of the proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2—ie, the final virus and host before passage to humans—was expressly addressed in only one highly cited opinion piece, which supports the natural origin hypothesis, but suffers from a logical fallacy: it opposes two hypotheses—laboratory engineering versus zoonosis—wrongly implying that there are no other possible scenarios.

The article then provides arguments against the laboratory engineering hypothesis, which are not conclusive for the following reasons. First, it assumes that the optimisation of the receptor binding domain for human ACE2 requires prior knowledge of the adaptive mutations, whereas selection in cell culture or animal models would lead to the same effect. Second, the absence of traces of reverse-engineering systems does not preclude genome editing, which is performed with so-called seamless techniques.

Finally, the absence of a previously known backbone is not a proof, since researchers can work for several years on viruses before publishing their full genome (this was the case for RaTG13, the closest known virus, which was collected in 2013 and published in 2020).

Based on these indirect and questionable arguments, the authors conclude in favour of a natural proximal origin. In the last part of the article, they briefly evoke selection during passage (ie, experiments aiming to test the capacity of a virus to infect cell cultures or model animals) and acknowledge the documented cases of laboratory escapes of SARS-CoV, but they dismiss this scenario, based on the argument that the strong similarity between receptor binding domains of SARS-CoV-2 and pangolins provides a more parsimonious explanation of the specific mutations. However, the pangolin hypothesis has since been abandoned so the whole reasoning should be re-evaluated.

The main point they advance in their letter is that both the lab-leak and natural origins hypotheses remain viable, because we don’t have all the evidence, and both should be encouraged as a matter of open and honest public debate.

All that having been said, there are features of SARS-CoV-2 that are, in fact, similar to chimeric viruses that have been created in a lab. DRASTIC member Yuri Deigin catalogued some of those similarities at great length in a fascinating Medium post in April 2020. Specifically, Deigin noted that the virus looked like a virus that was “based on the ancestral bat strain RaTG13, in which the receptor binding motif (RBM) in its spike protein is replaced by the RBM from a pangolin strain, and in addition, a small but very special stretch of 4 amino acids is inserted, which creates a furin cleavage site that, as virologists have previously established, significantly expands the “repertoire” of the virus in terms of whose cells it can penetrate.”

Deigin, whose work is worth reading in full, was careful to emphasize that such a chimeric mutation could have occurred in nature. However, creating just such a kind of virus was also consistent with the exact sort of work Shi, with the help of Baric, had performed in the past:

Indeed, virologists, including the leader of coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Shi Zhengli, have done many similar things in the past — both replacing the RBM in one type of virus by an RBM from another, or adding a new furin site that can provide a species-specific coronavirus with an ability to start using the same receptor (e.g. ACE2) in other species. In fact, Shi Zhengli’s group was creating chimeric constructs as far back as 2007 and as recently as 2017, when they created a whole of 8 new chimeric coronaviruses with various RBMs. In 2019 such work was in full swing, as WIV was part of a $3.7 million NIH grant titled Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence. Under its auspices, Shi Zhengli co-authored a 2019 paper that called for continued research into synthetic viruses and testing them in vitro and in vivo.

Further information that has come to light since Deigin’s work has further solidified the fact that Shi, with the help of Daszak, Baric, and others, were seeking funding for the creation of a chimeric bat coronavirus that would behave in ways eerily similar to SARS-CoV-2. As we have reported previously, in 2018, Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance sought $14 million in funding from DARPA for a collaborative project between Baric, Shi, and others that would “synthesize spike glycoproteins which bind to human cell receptors and insert them into SARSr-CoV backbones to assess whether they can cause SARS-like disease.”

Even more specifically, the project’s goal stated that it intended to release “enhanced airborne coronaviruses” into Chinese bat populations in order to inoculate them against diseases that could spread to humans. Although DARPA ultimately refused to fund the proposed Daszak project, deeming it too risky, neither Daszak nor Baric returned a request for comment as to whether the research continued with alternate funding. Certainly, there is no way to determine whether Shi and her fellow WIV researchers undertook the project on their own and simply used funding from the Chinese government to do so. If they had, the end result of such a project would have looked a lot like SARS-CoV-2.

At the end of the day, it may now be impossible to scientifically prove the truth or falsity of the lab-leak theory. But that isn’t by accident: It’s because the Chinese government undertook an extensive, obvious, and thorough effort to destroy and restrict access to evidence that was necessary to conduct a full and thorough investigation. The conclusion you draw from that is, of course, up to you.

And if it is impossible to tell with any certainty now that the virus didn’t escape from the WIV, it was definitely impossible to rule the possibility out with certainty in the early months of 2020.

Which raises the somewhat important question: Why did scientists like Peter Daszak, et al., pretend that it was?

Editor’s note: This article was updated on Sept. 27, 2021 with additional information about the WHO joint investigative team.

Recent Leaks Expose Communist China’s Extensive Infiltration Of The West


Reported by Helen Raleigh DECEMBER 18, 2020

U.S. State Department’s Assistant Secretary David Stilwell recently warned the public: “Influence and interference operations are fundamental to how the Chinese Communist Party engages with the world.” Through two leaked documents, the rest of the world recently discovered more about how aggressive and extensive the CCP’s influence and interference operations are: a database of CCP members and a secret agreement between Switzerland and Chinese police.

The CCP Member Database

One of the largest newspapers in Australia, The Australian, reported last weekend it obtained a leaked database of nearly two million CCP members, including their national ID number, birth date, and party position. Additionally, the database contains information on almost 80,000 party branches, showing these CCP members are currently working inside international corporations, universities, and even government agencies around the world.

Based on this databaseThe Australian also disclosed the names of several companies that have employed CCP members, including Boeing, Volkswagen, Qualcomm, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Deutsche Bank, and J.P. Morgan. Further, as seen via the database, numerous CCP members have infiltrated Australian, American, and United Kingdom consulates in Shanghai, China.

The database was reportedly extracted from a Shanghai-based server by a Chinese dissident in 2016. The Australian stated it hasn’t found any evidence that any member on the list is spying for the CCP. Still, there are good reasons to be concerned. As one national security expert suggested, “Allowing members of the CCP to work for such companies risks their stealing technology, providing intelligence to China on forthcoming weapons systems and capabilities, or on force structures built around those capabilities.”

That no spying has been discovered yet doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened or it won’t happen in the future when the CCP issues a call to action. After all, these CCP members took the same oath when they first joined the party, to “carry out the Party’s decisions; strictly observe Party discipline; guard Party secrets; be loyal to the Party … fight for communism throughout my life, be ready at all times to sacrifice my all for the Party and the people, and never betray the party.” If the party demands its members to share sensitive technology or take certain actions, it will be very difficult for a CCP member to say no.

Besides security concerns, having this many CCP members holding senior positions at western companies and government agencies also raises the concern that they would influence or sway these entities to support the CCP’s policies. For example, the U.K.’s Telegraph discovered:

…At least 335 HSBC employees were CCP members. Current members include the senior vice-president of HSBC China, the president of HSBC’s Shenzhen office, and the deputy manager of Hong Kong corporate and consumer products are listed as members.

The paper also learned that the deputy president of Standard Chartered Bank in China, Dong Shuyin, has won the “Excellent Communist Party Member in Shanghai” award.

Not surprisingly, both HSBC and the Standard Chartered Bank publicly backed the new national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong to crack down on dissent in the city. The law is so draconian that even a tweet supporting Hong Kong protests could land someone in jail. At least two dozen Hong Kong activists have been imprisoned under the security law since it went into effect in July.

HSBC not only supports the policy but may help with its enforcement. Ted Hui, a former pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker who now lives in Denmark, claimed that HSBC froze his and his family’s bank accounts. It’s worth asking: would HSBC carry out Beijing’s economic coercion like this had it hadn’t employed so many CCP members in its senior management?

Switzerland’s Secret Deal with Chinese Police

Another leak came from Safeguard Defenders, a Switzerland-based Human Rights organization. It disclosed last weekend that Switzerland had established a secret Re-admission Agreement with Chinese police since Dec. 8, 2015, and posted details of the deal on its website.

Countries typically establish a “Re-admission Agreement” with each other’s immigration agencies to address illegal immigration issues and make sure illegal immigrants or visa over-stayers will be safely returned to their country-of-origin. What’s unusual about Switzerland’s agreement with China is that the deal allows agents from China’s Ministry of Public Security to have “free access in Switzerland, for unsupervised operations across the country.” Furthermore, Switzerland “agreed to keep the identity of visiting agents secret. Agents are selected by China, and Switzerland has no part in the selection.”

Yet MPS is no ordinary agency in China. It’s in charge of Chinese police, national security, espionage, and intelligence. It’s known for suppressing domestic dissent and has been accused of human rights violations.

In recent years, it has expanded its operations overseas, sending agents around the world to bring Chinese nationals it deems as criminals back to China — part of “a global, concerted, and extralegal repatriation effort known as ‘Operation Fox Hunt.’” According to China’s state media, the operation has been highly successful and about 6,000 “criminals” have returned to China by mid-2019, including 300 Uighur Muslims from 16 different countries.

Nevertheless, the aggressive tactics Chinese agents deploy as well as their vague definition of “criminals” have irked law enforcement agencies in the West. In August, the U.S. Department of Justice charged eight people, including both Chinese nationals and U.S. residents, with conspiring to act as illegal agents of China, in a multi-year campaign of harassment and stalking of Chinese immigrants in the United States, attempting to force them back to China.

In contrast, Switzerland appears neither bothered by the hard-hitting tactics of Chinese agents nor concerned with the fate of those who have been forced to return to China. There’s also apparently little concern over whether they committed crimes, or were persecuted for being critical of the CCP’s policies, and whether they would be safe upon their return to China.

Under the agreement between Switzerland and China, the Swiss government put very little constraints on their Chinese counterpart. Chinese MPS agents have been allowed to go anywhere they want, and “meet” anyone they want in Switzerland without the Swiss government’s supervision.

In 2016, 16 Chinese nationals who resided in Switzerland were forced to return to China as the result of these MPS agents’ visits. So far, the Swiss government refuses to disclose who these people were. Even more outrageous, the Swiss government covered the cost of the extensive travel expenses for these Chinese agents. In essence, “Swiss taxpayers are paying for Chinese police agents to secretly enter Switzerland and conduct unsupervised operations against Chinese people inside their country.”

What’s not surprising, but embarrassing for Switzerland, is that the deal is not reciprocated. By no means do Swiss agents who travel to China enjoy anything near the same kind of unsupervised movement inside China. As such, it isn’t clear why the Swiss government signed such an erroneous agreement to aid the CCP, and what benefits, if any, this deal has brought for Switzerland.

When details of this deal became public, it caused an uproar in both the Swiss public and members of Parliament. Since the deal expired on Dec. 7, Switzerland’s Foreign Affair Committee requested a consultation on any renewal of a similar agreement.

The leaked database of CCP members and a secret agreement between Switzerland and Chinese police reveal that the CCP’s influence and infiltration operations are far-reaching and widespread in a scale and magnitude that was previously unknown. It also shows the CCP’s success in executing its plan is at least partially due to the complacency or even willing cooperation by some short-sighted western corporations and governments.

It’s high time for citizens in Western democracies to demand their corporations and governments stand up for the values and liberties we cherish and resist the CCP’s infiltration, corruption, and economic coercion. The long term survival of free societies is at stake.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Helen Raleigh, CFA, is an American entrepreneur, writer, and speaker. She’s a senior contributor at The Federalist. Her writings appear in other national media, including The Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Helen is the author of several books, including “Confucius Never Said” and “Backlash: How Communist China’s Aggression Has Backfired.” Follow her on Parler and Twitter: @HRaleighspeaks.

‘The Biden Five’: The Definitive Breakdown of One of America’s Most Corrupt Families


Reported by ROBERT KRAYCHIK | 

Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute and senior contributor at Breitbart News, explained how Joe Biden’s family members — dubbed the Biden Five — monetized political connections and influence in an interview aired on Tuesday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow.

The Biden Five is composed of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden; his younger brothers Frank Biden and James Biden, his sister Valerie Biden, and his daughter Ashley Biden.

Marlow highlighted Schweizer’s latest book, Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite, as “the gateway into understanding not just Joe Biden and the Biden family, but also the entire institutional Democratic Party at this moment and their corruption.”

Marlow described Schweizer’s investigation of the Biden family as yielding “indisputable evidence that Joe Biden is running a crime-like syndicate where he is, if nothing else, enabling his family members to get rich, without really any noticeable skill, using the American people’s good name.”

Schweizer noted the internationalization of the Biden family’s business dealings following Joe Biden becoming vice president.

“There’s no question about it. Joe Biden is the planet around which the moons of his family travel,” Schweizer said, “and the gravitational pull is Joe Biden’s power and his position, and the family has enriched themselves based on the positions he has.”

Schweizer continued, “Before Joe Biden is vice president of the United States, they’re really not doing many international deals, but once Joe Biden becomes vice president of the United States, suddenly, they’ve got foreign governments and foreign entities falling over themselves to cut them in on deals that they have no background or no expertise in. There’s a direct link between the corrupt acts of the family and the policy positions and power that Joe Biden has.”

1 – Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden joined his father aboard Air Force Two in December of 2013 on a flight to China. Ten days later, he secured over $1 billion in financing from the state-run Bank of China for a newly launched private equity firm he co-founded.

Schweizer explained, “Before Joe Biden becomes vice president of the United States, Hunter is a lobbyist for online gambling companies in Europe. That’s what he’s doing. That’s his professional background. Once his dad becomes vice president of the United States, he suddenly starts doing a whole host of global deals beginning with China. He flies with his dad on Air Force Two to Beijing China in December 2013.”

“Within 10 days of that trip, Hunter Biden joins the board of directors and gets an equity stake in a Chinese government-financed investment firm called BHR Partners, Bohai Harvest RST,” Schweizer added. “He has no backgroundin private equity. He has no background in China. They put him on the board precisely because his father is vice president and precisely because his father is taking pro-China positions on the global stage.”

Schweizer focused on Hunter Biden’s lack of expertise related to either private equity or China as indicative of the Chinese government’s rationale for funding BHR.

In 2015, the Obama administration approved the sale of a strategically sensitive American company, Henniges Automotive, in a joint-purchase shared by a Chinese military contractor and BHR. The foreign acquisition required special approval from the Committee of Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) due to the company’s manufacturing of technology with military applications.

Schweizer remarked, “Hunter Biden’s business partners were quite explicit that he doesn’t bring anything to the table. He’s not bringing any money. He’s not bringing any expertise. He was the, quote, ‘pipeline to the administration,’ meaning the Obama-Biden administration.”

The Chinese Communist Party viewed Hunter Biden as a conduit through which political influence with the Obama administration could be procured, Schweizer held.

“There’s a very clear reason why the Chinese government wants the son of the vice president sitting on their board involved in these deals,” Schweizer said, “because they need the approval of the Obama-Biden administration, which is, of course, what they get when they start acquiring these companies.”

Joe Biden repeatedly denied having discussions with Hunter Biden about his son’s foreign financial dealings. “I’ve never discussed my business or their business, my sons’ or daughter’s,” said Joe Biden in 2019. “And I’ve never discussed them because they know where I have to do my job and that’s it and they have to make their own judgments.”

Joe Biden previously declared the existence of an “absolute wall” between himself and his family members’ business. He said, “I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses. Period.”

Laws prohibiting political bribery include transference of money to elected officials’ family members, Schweizer noted.

Schweizer pointed to a photograph of Joe Biden posing with oligarch Kenes Rakishev of Kazakhstan, who once reportedly explored business with Hunter Biden as further evidence of the former vice president’s deception in denying knowledge of his family’s financial dealings.

A recent report from the Daily Mail suggests the procurement of political favors from Joe Biden via Hunter Biden by Yelena Baturina, a Russian oligarch who wired $3.5 million to Rosemont Seneca, a private investment firm co-owned by Hunter Biden. Baturina’s brother said the consultancy fee was “a payment to enter the American market.”

Schweizer identified Hunter Biden’s previous position on the board of directors for Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, as further evidence  of Joe Biden’s monetization of political influence through his son.

“[Hunter Biden] was getting a million dollars a year from a corrupt Ukrainian energy company,” Schweizer stated. “He had no background energy. He had no background in Ukraine. We now know with emails that have been released that he was working at Burisma’s direction to try to deflect investigations into Burisma, which is a very corrupt company run by corrupt oligarchs.”

Schweizer highlighted Joe Biden’s admission in 2018 that he pressured Ukraine to terminate Viktor Shokin during his vice presidential tenure. At the time, Shokin was a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating corruptio? on the part of Burisma.

The Biden family’s lack of expertise in fields within which they have been paid millions of dollars from foreign governments and interests reveals their sale of political influence through Joe Biden, Schweizer assessed.

“What are the Bidens selling?” asked Schweizer. “What product or what service are they providing these Chinese companies [or] a Ukrainian energy company? They don’t know anything about the energy business. They don’t know anything about private finance [or] equity companies. They don’t know anything about that, so the point is these foreign entities are paying the Bidens money — millions of dollars. The question is, what are they getting in return?”

Schweizer concluded, “These are not charities. These are not philanthropies. They are expecting and they are getting something in return, or they would stop paying.”

2 – Frank Biden 

Companies owned by Frank Biden, Joe Biden’s youngest brother, received millions of dollars in taxpayer loans related to real estate development in the Caribbean during Joe Biden’s vice presidency.

Schweizer said, “[Frank Biden was] basically was a real estate agent — not very successful — in Florida. Suddenly decides he’s going to go into the renewable energy business. [He had] no background in any of that. He set up companies in Costa Rica [and] sets up another company in Jamaica, and lo and behold, gets involved in deals that get taxpayer-backed loans from the U.S. government — or more specifically, from the Obama-Biden administration, to do renewable energy projects in Costa Rica and Jamaica.”

Frank Biden’s business interests also received millions of dollars in grants from the Department of Education towards the construction of charter schools. Joe Biden’s youngest brother described his family name as a “tremendous asset” that delivered “automatic acceptance” for government approvals of school projects and securing public funding.

“These are our grants that are discretionary, which means the Department of Education can decide who they want to give them to,” Schweizer explained. “[Frank Biden] took in millions of dollars from the Education Department while his brother was vice president of the United States.”

Schweizer added, [Frank Biden] actually had a meeting involving his companies in the Oval Office with Barack Obama and just a couple of other individuals. If his name had been Frank Jones instead of Frank Biden, I doubt any of that would have happened.”

3 – James Biden

James Biden, the younger brother of Joe Biden, worked as executive vice president of HillStone International, a firm that received $1.5 billion in government contracts during the Obama administrations, including a contract to build 100,000 homes in Iraq as part of an international development project.

Schweizer detailed the conflicts of interest related to James Biden’s position with HillStone International given Joe Biden’s oversight of ostensibly humanitarian government-funded development projects in Iraq during his vice presidency.

Kevin Justice, founder and president of Hillstone International, visited the White House in 2010 and met with Michele Smith, a top aide to then-Vice President Joe Biden who worked as a liaison to “global government officials and business executives.”

James Biden had no background in construction or international development when he joined the company. Hillstone International’s company profile of James Biden touted his familial connection to Joe Biden as a professional attribute.

“Within six months [of HillStone’s founding], they land these billion-dollar contracts to build homes in Iraq,” recalled Schweizer. “This is part of the Iraqi reconstruction after the war, and who is in charge of the Iraqi reconstruction at the time? Joe Biden, his brother. Now we have a third member of the family, who because of Joe’s position, is cashing in. In this case, taxpayer money is flowing to a member of the Biden family.”

4 – Valerie Biden

Joe Biden’s sister Valerie Biden, who previously managed Joe Biden’s senatorial campaigns in Delaware, financially benefited from donations to her brother’s later presidential campaigns. In 2008, she sent $2.5 million to her political communications firm from Citizens for Biden and Biden for President Inc.

Schweizer described Valerie Biden’s enrichment via Joe Biden’s campaign funding as “legal graft.” He recalled, “When Joe Biden ran for the senate in Delaware — obviously a very safe for him, there hasn’t been a Republican in there for 40 years — what does Joe do? Joe hires his sister to run his campaigns [and] hires her firm as a consultant. As a result, millions of dollars flow to Valerie Biden.”

“It speaks to the pattern [of] the Bidens looking at opportunities to take money, whether it’s taxpayer money, political money, or business money, and steer it to their family members for their benefit,” Schweizer explained.

5 – Ashley Biden

Joe Biden assisted his daughter Ashley Biden by helping her husband, Howard Krein, launch healthcare company StartUp Health in 2011. He arranged a meeting with former President Barack Obama in the Oval Office weeks after the company’s founding.

StartUp Health’s meeting with Barack Obama was a “huge hookup,” Schweizer explained, noting StartUp Health’s securing of an invitation to Health Data-Palooza, a joint conference run by federal government and health industry.

“Health Data-Palooza is very prestigious and very hard to get into,” Schweizer stated. “They get hooked up and they are put front and center in this very important conference, and that’s the beginning of the favors that happen.” Joe Biden gave several private speeches and briefings to the partners and investors of Howard Krein’s business.

Joe Biden’s inside knowledge regarding the Obama administration’s planned healthcare policies afforded Howard Krein a competitive advantage relative to competing healthcare companies, Schweizer held.

Krein is now advising Joe Biden’s campaign on coronavirus matters while StartUp Health plans to invest $1 million in companies developing goods and services pertaining to the novel virus. Politico reported, “Krein simultaneously advising the campaign and venturing into Covid investing could pose conflict-of-interest concerns for a Biden administration or simply create the awkward appearance of Krein profiting off his father-in-law’s policies.”

Schweizer credited the Biden family with expanding the frontiers of American political corruption.

“The Bidens, to me, are unprecedented in the extent and scope of the corruption, because I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Schweizer determined. “I’ve exposed Republicans and Democrats. The most that I’ve ever seen up to this point was a Republican senator from Missouri that had three family members engaged in this kind of behavior. The Bidens now have five, making the Biden Five, in my mind, the the reigning champs when it comes to corrupt behavior in Washington, D.C.”

Breitbart News Daily broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

Biden Whistleblower Emails: Chinese Energy Company Gave $5 Million Non-Secured, Forgivable Loan to Biden ‘Family’


Reported by MATTHEW BOYLE | Washington, DC

Read more at https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/10/22/biden-whistleblower-emails-chinese-energy-company-gave-5-million-non-secured-forgivable-loan-biden-family/

US Vice President Joe Biden (C) buys an ice-cream at a shop as he tours a Hutong alley with his granddaughter Finnegan Biden (R) and son Hunter Biden (L) in Beijing on December 5, 2013. Biden said on December 5 China’s air zone had caused “significant apprehension” and Beijing needed … ANDY WONG/AFP via Getty Images

The email, sent to SinoHawk Holdings CEO Tony Bobulinski, shows how a top official with CEFC Energy — a now bankrupt and defunct energy company based in China — offered to wire $10 million into an account to begin operations, $5 million worth of which would be a non-secured forgivable loan to the “BD Family,” which means the Biden family.

Breitbart News senior contributor Peter Schweizer spent four and a half hours with Bobulinski before he went public, and discussed these communications in particular regarding this loan during that meeting. According to Schweizer, the Chinese energy company officials were going to put $10 million into an account, $5 million of which was designated as a non-secured forgivable loan to the Biden family. Schweizer said this would constitute significant leverage the Chinese energy company officials would have over the Biden family.

“In a way, this would give CEFC greater leverage over the Biden family than simply giving them a gift or bribe because if they were dissatisfied with what the Bidens were doing they could ask for their money back,” Schweizer told Breitbart News when asked about the arrangement upon the public release of Bobulinski’s emails.

The email also says that $5 million loan is “interest free” and asks how that $5 million would be used, and if used up, whether CEFC should lend more money to the Biden family.

This email further fleshes out details surrounding the controversial arrangement first uncovered by U.S. Senate investigators in a recent Homeland Security Committee report, and later further uncovered by a bombshell New York Post story on emails retrieved from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Bobulinski’s new emails add to the story by including terms of the financial arrangement behind the wire transfer that CEFC officials made into a firm aligned with the Bidens that then made significant payments to Hunter Biden’s own firm, a wire transfer and financial payments that were first exposed by Senate investigators. The New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop emails added more information to this questionable arrangement by revealing emails that showed how Biden associates intended to divvy up the cash from the Chinese investors.

These new emails from Bobulinski add more to the picture by showing that the agreement was that this payment would serve as a non-secured forgivable loan, and that the CEFC side of the arrangement understood that the then-forthcoming payment — which Senate investigators confirmed was made just two weeks after these discussions —would serve as a loan to the Biden “family,” not just to Hunter Biden.

 

This email is part of a broader trove of documents that Bobulinski provided to U.S. Senate investigators with the Homeland Security and Finance Committees, and also to media outlets including Breitbart News. Other media outlets are reporting on the emails as well.

According to the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s recent report, $5 million was wired directly into the account in question two weeks later — and then Hunter Biden’s firm spent the next year wiring $4.8 million from there into his own firm’s account:

 

CEFC was a controversial energy company, as Breitbart News has reported. “The owner of CEFC, Ye Jianming, was among the most ambitious of Chinese tycoons before his business empire collapsed and he vanished into the Communist nation’s shadowy prison system,” Breitbart News’ John Hayward wrote earlier this week. “Ye was once portrayed as one of China’s greatest rags-to-riches stories, a humble park ranger who began making successful oil investments in his twenties and became a billionaire before he hit 40. He was marketed as an affable businessman foreigners could feel safe making deals with, well-connected but not an obvious tool of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”

CEFC is at the center of the burgeoning Biden scandal. When Bobulinski went public on Wednesday night, he was the first source on one of the emails that the New York Post published from Hunter Biden’s laptop retrieved from a computer repair store in Delaware. One such story that the Post published was about Hunter Biden and the Biden family seeking a deal with CEFC, and in those original emails James Gilliar of J2cR emails Bobulinski about “remunerations packages” related to the CEFC deal.

“I am the recipient of the email published seven days ago by the New York Post which showed a copy to Hunter Biden and Rob Walker. That email is genuine,” Bobulinski said in his statement issued publicly.

Bobulinski had been, sources familiar with the matter told Breitbart News, cooperating with the Wall Street Journal for an investigation it is working on. But since the Journal has not published its story several days later after its staff had indicated it would, Bobulinski decided to go public on his own on Wednesday night — and made clear he is cooperating with Senate investigators.

In the original email, published by the New York Post, from Hunter Biden’s laptop, Gilliar references a breakdown of how money acquired would be distributed throughout the firm of which Bobulinski was CEO. The email says at one point that “10 held by H for the big guy.”

In his nearly 700-word statement, Bobulinski confirmed the authenticity of that email and further explained its meeting including that “the big guy” was a reference to former Vice President Joe Biden, the 2020 Democrat presidential nominee, himself.

“What I am outlining is fact. I know it is fact because I lived it. I am the CEO of Sinohawk Holdings which was a partnership between the Chinese operating through CEFC/Chairman Ye and the Biden family,” Bobulinski said. “I was brought into the company to be the CEO by James Gilliar and Hunter Biden. The reference to ‘the big guy’ in the much publicized May 13, 2017 email is in fact a reference to Joe Biden. The other ‘JB’ referenced in that email is Jim Biden, Joe’s brother. Hunter Biden called his dad ‘the Big Guy’ or ‘my Chairman,’ and frequently referenced asking him for his sign-off or advice on various potential deals that we were discussing. I’ve seen Vice President Biden saying he never talked to Hunter about his business. I’ve seen firsthand that that’s not true, because it wasn’t just Hunter’s business, they said they were putting the Biden family name and its legacy on the line.”

Exclusive — ‘This is China, Inc.’: Emails Reveal Hunter Biden’s Associates Helped Communist-Aligned Chinese Elites Secure White House Meetings


Reported by PETER SCHWEIZER and SEAMUS BRUNER | 

Read more at https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/10/16/exclusive-this-is-china-inc-emails-reveal-hunter-bidens-associates-helped-communist-aligned-chinese-elites-secure-white-house-meetings/

From right, Tom Daschle, Hunter Biden, Vice President Joe Biden, and daughters of George McGovern Ann McGovern and Susan Rowen, laugh as they listen to Matt McGovern, grand son of George McGovern, at a prayer service for the former Democratic U.S. senator and three-time presidential candidate George McGovern at the …AP Photo/Nati Harnik

In a 2011 email, Hunter Biden’s business associates also discussed developing relations with what one called “China Inc.” as part of a “new push on soft diplomacy for the Chinese.” These emails are completely unconnected to the Hunter Biden emails being released by the New York Post. These and more explosive never-before-revealed emails were provided to Schweizer by Bevan Cooney, a one-time Hunter Biden and Devon Archer business associate. Cooney is currently in prison serving a sentence for his involvement in a 2016 bond fraud investment scheme.

In 2019, Cooney reached out to Schweizer after becoming familiar with the revelations in his 2018 book Secret Empires. Cooney explained that he believes he was the “fall guy” for the fraud scheme and that Archer and Hunter Biden had avoided responsibility.

Archer, who was also convicted in the case, saw a federal judge vacate his conviction. But an appellate court overturned the lower court judge’s ruling, reinstating Archer’s conviction in the case. Archer, Hunter Biden’s longtime business partner, awaits sentencing.

Cooney, their associate who is currently serving a prison sentence on his conviction in the matter, later reestablished contact with Schweizer through investigative journalist Matthew Tyrmand. From prison, Cooney provided Schweizer with written authorization, his email account name, and password to his Gmail account to retrieve these emails. He authorized, in writing, the publication of these emails— notable because it is the first time a close associate has publicly confirmed Hunter’s trading on his father’s influence.

The emails offer a unique window into just how the Biden universe conducted business during the Obama-Biden Administration. These associates sought to trade on Hunter Biden’s relationship with, and access to, his father and the Obama-Biden White House in order to generate business.

For instance, on November 5, 2011, one of Archer’s business contacts forwarded him an email teasing an opportunity to gain “potentially outstanding new clients” by helping to arrange White House meetings for a group of Chinese executives and government officials. The group was the China Entrepreneur Club (CEC) and the delegation included Chinese billionaires, Chinese Communist Party loyalists, and at least one “respected diplomat” from Beijing. Despite its benign name, CEC has been called “a second foreign ministry” for the People’s Republic of China—a communist government that closely controls most businesses in its country. CEC was established in 2006 by a group of businessmen and Chinese government diplomats.

Re China Entrepreneurs Club… by Breitbart News

CEC’s leadership boasts numerous senior members of the Chinese Communist Party, including Wang Zhongyu (“vice chairman of the 10th CPPCC National Committee and deputy secretary of the Party group”), Ma Weihua (director of multiple Chinese Communist Party offices), and Jiang Xipei (member of the Chinese Communist Party and representative of the 16th National Congress), among others.

“I know it is political season and people are hesitant but a group like this does not come along every day,” an intermediary named Mohamed A. Khashoggi wrote on behalf of the CEC to an associate of Hunter Biden and Devon Archer. “A tour of the white house and a meeting with a member of the chief of staff’s office and John Kerry would be great,” Khashoggi said before including what should have been a major red flag: “Not sure if one has to be registered to do this.” Presumably, Khashoggi meant a registered lobbyist under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Khashoggi believed the trip presented “a soft diplomacy play that could be very effective” and would give Hunter Biden’s business partners “good access to [the Chinese] for any deal in the future.”

Indeed, the email boasted of CEC’s wealthy membership:

CEC’s current membership includes 50 preeminent figures such as: Liu Chuanzhi, Chairman of the CEC, Legend Holdings and Lenovo Group; Wu Jinglian, Zhang Weiying, and Zhou Qiren, China’s esteemed economists; Wu Jianmin, respected diplomat; Long Yongtu, representative of China’s globalization; Wang Shi (Vanke); Ma Weihua (China Merchants Bank); Jack Ma (Alibaba Group); Guo Guangchang (Fosun Group); Wang Jianlin, (Wanda Group); Niu Gensheng (LAONIU Foundation); Li Shufu (Geely); Li Dongsheng (TCL Corporation); Feng Lun (Vantone) and etc.

The gross income of the CEC members’ companies allegedly “totaled more than RMB 1.5 trillion, together accounting for roughly 4% of China’s GDP.” The overture to Hunter Biden’s associates described the Chinese CEC members variously as “industrial elites,” “highly influential,” and among “the most important private sector individuals in China today.”

Before contacting Hunter Biden’s associates, the CEC had been trying to get meetings with top Obama-Biden administration officials to no avail. “From the DC side as you will see below they [CEC] have written letters to several members of the administration and others and have so far not had a strong reaction.”

“This is China Inc,” wrote Khashoggi in the email, referring to the delegation of Chinese billionaires.

“Biggest priority for the CEC group is to see the White House, and have a senior US politician, or senior member of Obama’s administration, give them a tour… If your friend in DC can help, we would be extremely grateful,” Khashoggi emphasized.

Hunter Biden and Devon Archer apparently delivered for the Chinese Communist Party-connected industrial elites within ten days.

The original Oct. 19, 2011, email from Khashoggi was sent to Gary Fears — a controversial political fundraiser with a checkered history who was caught up in a riverboat casino scandal in the mid-1990s — who forwarded it on to Archer a couple weeks later on Nov. 5, 2011.

Time was short, as Khashoggi’s original email noted that the Chinese delegation would be in DC on Nov. 14, 2011. Fears told Archer to “reach out” to Khashoggi about the request regarding getting the Chinese businesspersons and officials into the Obama White House, adding it would be “perfect for” Archer to also “attend” with them and then “get guys for the potash deal.”

The same day Fears sent Khashoggi’s message to him, Archer took the email from Fears and sent to Khashoggi a business proposal for a potash mine deal he had lined up.

Six days after the initial overture, Archer received a followup email asking how a meeting with CEC’s representative went. The email closed with “Do me a favor and ask Hunter [Biden] to call me — I’ve tried reaching him a couple of times.” Archer responded, “Hunter is traveling in the UAE for the week with royalty so probably next week before he will be back in pocket…. The meeting with [CEC representative] was good. Seems like there is a lot to do together down the line. Probably not a fit for the current Potash private placement but he’s a good strategic relationship as the mine develops. Definitely have a drink with Mohammed and let him know how impressed I was with his whole deal.”

One minute later, Archer sent a follow-up email, “Couldn’t confirm this with Hunter on the line but we got him his meeting at the WH Monday for the Chinese folks.”

On the day of the meeting, November 14, 2011, Cooney emailed Fears to confirm that Archer “got the Chinese guys all taken care of in DC.”

The Obama-Biden Administration archives reveal that this Chinese delegation did indeed visit the White House on November 14, 2011, and enjoyed high-level access. The delegation included approximately thirty members, according to White House visitor logs. But those records also obscure perhaps the most important item for the Chinese delegation: a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden himself.

The visitor logs list Jeff Zients, the deputy director of Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), as the host of the CEC delegation. Obama had tasked Zients with restructuring and ultimately consolidating the various export-import agencies under the Commerce Department—an effort in which the Chinese delegation would have a keen interest.

trip itinerary posted by the CEC also confirms the delegation met with Obama’s then-recently-confirmed Commerce Secretary John Bryson.

Curiously, the Obama-Biden visitor logs do not mention any meeting with Vice President Joe Biden. But the Vice President’s off-the-books meeting was revealed by one of the core founders of the CEC. In an obscure document listing the CEC members’ biographies, CEC Secretary General Maggie Cheng alleges that she facilitated the CEC delegation meetings in Washington in 2011 and boasts of the Washington establishment figures that CEC met with. The first name she dropped was that of Vice President Joe Biden.

The relationships established during that visit may have benefited Hunter Biden and Devon Archer down the road. Two years later, they famously helped to form the Chinese government funded Bohai Harvest RST (BHR) investment fund. One of BHR’s first major portfolio investments was a ride-sharing company like Uber called Didi Dache—now called Didi Chuxing Technology Co. That company is closely connected to Liu Chuanzhi, the chairman of the China Entrepreneur Club (CEC) and the founder of Legend Holdings—the parent company of Lenovo, one of the world’s largest computer companies. Liu is a former Chinese Communist Party delegate and was a leader of the 2011 CEC delegation to the White House. His daughter was the President of Didi.

Liu has long been involved in CCP politics, including serving as a representative to the 9th, 10th, and 11th sessions of the National People’s Congress of the PRC and as a representative to the 16th and 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Liu was the Vice Chairman of the 8th and 9th Executive Committee of All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC), an organization known to be affiliated with the Chinese United Front.

The Biden campaign has not responded to a request for comment on this story.

This is a developing story.

Peter Schweizer is the author of Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite. Seamus Bruner is the author of Fallout: Nuclear Bribes, Russian Spies, and the Washington Lies that Enriched the Clinton and Biden Dynasties.

China Orders Christians to Take Down Images of Jesus from Their Homes


Reported by THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D. | 
URL of the originating web site: https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2020/07/20/china-orders-christians-to-take-down-images-of-jesus-from-homes/

Christian / AP Photo

Chinese communist authorities have ordered poor Christian villagers to remove Christian images from their homes and replace them with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping or risk losing their welfare benefits.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has continued its program of “Sinicization” of religion by channeling religious fervor in the country toward the Party rather than God, the Christian Post reported this weekend.

In May, an official in the eastern province of Shandong raided the home of a local Christian and hung pictures of Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping on the wall in place of Christian images.

“These are the greatest gods. If you want to worship somebody, they are the ones,” the official told them.

This year, China’s “social credit system” was scheduled to become fully functional, assigning points to each individual based on how much the Communist Party approves of them and using their rating to control their behavior and access to certain benefits..

“There are fears that China’s new ‘social credit system’ – designed to reward good citizenship and punish bad – will be used to discriminate against Christians,” wrote the Catholic charity organization Aid to the Church in Need in a 2019 report.

The fears are tied to “cash rewards for those who inform on underground churches and other ‘unofficial’ places of worship,” indicating that the government might also reward the persecution of Christians with high “social credit” scores.

According to the religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter, the CCP is now using state welfare benefits as leverage to coerce people into worshiping the Party rather than Jesus. In April, for instance, party officials visited the homes of Christians in Linfen, in the northern province of Shanxi, ordering those who receive welfare payments from the government to remove crosses, Christian symbols, and images in their homes and replace them with portraits of China’s communist leaders. The officials threatened the Christians that non-compliance with the order would result in suspension of their welfare subsidies.

“All impoverished households in the town were told to display Mao Zedong images,” a local house church preacher said. “The government is trying to eliminate our belief and wants to become God instead of Jesus.”

Officials have often made good on their threats, ruthlessly suspending benefits to Christians who fail to give up their devotions. Communist authorities cancelled the government subsidies of one elderly Christian woman from Shangqiu city in Henan after they found an image of a cross posted on the door of her home.

“They tore it down immediately,” she said. “Afterward, both my minimum living allowance and poverty alleviation subsidy were canceled. I am being driven to a dead end. I have diabetes and need injections regularly.”

Something similar occurred in in Xinyu city in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, when officials canceled the minimum living subsidy and a monthly disability allowance of 100 RMB (about $14) to a disabled Christian who disobeyed government orders and continued to attend worship services.

Another Christian living in Jiangxi’s Poyang county — a woman in her 80s — reportedly stopped receiving government aid after she said “Thank God” after receiving her monthly 200 RMB (about $28) subsidy in mid-January.

“They expected me to praise the kindness of the Communist Party instead,” she said.

In another case, local officials entered the home of a member of a state-sponsored Three-Self church and tore down all Christian images, including a calendar with an image of Jesus, and posted a portrait of Mao Zedong instead.

“Impoverished religious households can’t receive money from the state for nothing — they must obey the Communist Party for the money they receive,” the official declared.

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