- Dominic Ng, CEO of East West Bank, whom President Joe Biden appointed to represent the U.S. at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, is a current and former member of two alleged front groups serving a “Chinese intelligence service,” a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found.
- Ng served as “executive director” of the China Overseas Exchange Association until 2017 and still serves in that capacity at the related China Overseas Friendship Association, according to DCNF translations of those groups’ archived rosters.
- “The FBI should immediately launch an investigation into Mr. Ng,” Texas Republican Rep. Lance Gooden told the DCNF.
President Joe Biden appointed an alleged Chinese Communist Party (CCP) front group member to represent U.S. business interests in Asia, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found.
In April 2022, Biden appointed Dominic Ng, CEO of East West Bank, to a one-year position representing the U.S. on the Business Advisory Council of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), after Ng donated $100,000 to the Biden Victory Fund and $35,500 to the Democratic National Committee in 2020, Federal Election Commission records show. However, Ng’s donations to Biden’s campaign and his current appointment overlap with his membership in an organization which several China experts have identified as a front group for a Chinese government intelligence agency, according to DCNF translations of archived membership records.
Likewise, Ng was also previously a member of another alleged front group, the DCNF found.
“President Biden ignored Dominic Ng’s extensive ties to the CCP and Chinese intelligence groups, happily took his campaign donations, and in return appointed a possible Chinese spy to a senior government position,” Texas Republican Rep. Lance Gooden told the DCNF.
Ng, APEC and East West Bank did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Ng served as “executive director” at the China Overseas Exchange Association (COEA) between 2013 and 2017, before beginning a five-year position with the same title at the related China Overseas Friendship Association (COFA) in 2019, where he apparently remains a member, according to a DCNF translation of archived membership records.
Both COEA and COFA, which merged in 2019, are considered fronts groups for the United Front Work Department (UFWD), a CCP agency responsible for both influence and intelligence operations, according to reports from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC). Multiple experts who spoke to the DCNF agreed that both COEA and COFA are UFWD fronts.
“A person who holds a position in COFA or COEA, including provincial branches, and works in any U.S. government agency should not be allowed access to any sensitive information, and, in fact, will have divided loyalties at best,” Clive Hamilton, author of “Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping The World,” told the DCNF.
Members of COFA and COEA are “expected to carry out influence work overseas to advance the objectives of the Party,” Hamilton said.
The DCNF located Ng’s Chinese name, Wu Jianmin, on East West Bank’s website, and matched it with archived records to confirm Ng’s former and current membership within the two alleged Chinese intelligence front groups.
Despite his ties to alleged CCP front groups, Ng will serve a prominent role in U.S.-Asia trade relations.
As chair of APEC’s Business Advisory Council, Ng is tasked with providing “recommendations to APEC leaders reflecting the perspectives of key APEC stakeholders,” according to the State Department. APEC is China’s most valuable trade forum after the World Trade Organization, with a reported 70% of all Chinese trade occurring with other APEC members, according to China Briefing, an online publication concerning business in China.
According to the State Department, Mr. Ng serves on the governing boards of Mattel, Inc., the University of Southern California, and the Academy of Motion Pictures, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Los Angeles Branch.
Thomas Duesterberg, senior fellow at Hudson Institute, told the DCNF that it was “not at all surprising” that the CCP might hypothetically seek to insert influence operatives into APEC, an international forum whose stated mission is “championing free and open trade and investment” for the sake of “sustainable economic growth and prosperity” in the Asia-Pacific, according to its website.
“The increasing level of competition with the United States is causing [China] to want to consolidate their position wherever they can, but especially in their neighborhood,” said Duesterberg, who formerly served as assistant secretary for international economic policy at the Department of Commerce and attended the first two meetings of APEC.
“Their modus operandi is to use all means possible to become dominant, including lots of means that we normally don’t approve of,” he added.
Underscoring the forum’s apparent importance to China, Biden and General Secretary Xi Jinping may meet during APEC’s November 2023 summit in San Francisco, according to statements made by Michael Swaine, East Asia program director at the Quincy Institute, on C-SPAN Feb. 5.
However, some of the organizations at which Ng has served as “executive director” are closely affiliated with Chinese intelligence operations, experts told the DCNF.
“Both [COEA and COFA] are elements of the UFWD,” Nicholas Eftimiades, a former CIA officer and author of “Chinese Intelligence Operations,” told the DCNF.
Eftimiades characterized COEA as a “subset” of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (OCAO), a CCP department which “became a bureau of the UFWD in 2018.”
“Persons from the UFWD have repeatedly been caught conducting espionage and covert influence activities abroad,” Eftimiades told the DCNF. “Employment of individuals from this organization is certainly higher up on the risk management scale.”
A State Department spokesperson referred the DCNF to the White House, which did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
In addition to his positions at alleged UFWD fronts, Ng also has a history of meeting with Chinese government personnel allegedly tied to the UFWD, the DCNF determined. In one instance, COEA’s leadership invited Ng to meet with them in Beijing shortly after he’d joined COEA in 2013, according to Chinese government records.
Beyond just their COEA leadership positions, both Qiu and Han are also members of the CCP and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a Chinese government agency which is the “highest-ranking entity overseeing the United Front system,” according to the USCC.
Ng has since met multiple times with alleged UFWD leaders, Chinese government records reveal, including another Beijing meeting with COEA’s leadership, which occurred after Ng attended the CPPCC’s national committee in March 2015.
Ng even met with alleged UFWD leaders in the U.S., the DCNF discovered. During one such meeting in February 2016, Ng took COEA’s “executive vice chairman,” Qiu, around on a tour of East West Bank in Los Angeles, according to Chinese government records.
After touring East West Bank, Qiu reportedly told Ng and several others present at the time that “Chinese-American elected officials” could connect the U.S. and China and, thus, she was “full of anticipation” because they might “play an active role” in “Congress” or within “think tanks,” a DCNF translation of Chinese government records found.
“The FBI should immediately launch an investigation into Mr. Ng,” Gooden said. “And if he is found to be an accomplice in Chinese espionage operations, he should rot in prison for his betrayal of the United States.”
The FBI told the DCNF that they had no comment.
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, who was recently appointed chairman of the House China Select Committee, told the DCNF that the U.S. needs to do more to combat CCP influence operations.
“Too many former U.S. government officials and public servants are willing to shop out their connections and expertise to foreign adversaries, helping Xi Jinping wield his so-called ‘magic weapon’ of United Front work,” Gallagher said. “If you have the privilege of serving the American people at any level of government, you should, at a minimum, commit to serve the interests of the American people alone.”
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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation