U.S-China Governors Forum: Not All Sweetness And Harmony

William F. Jasper
The New American

Over the past several years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has stepped up its courtship of America’s state and local officials. A growing stream of Governors, Mayors, County Commissioners, school superintendents, college presidents and university officials have been making the pilgrimage to Beijing and other Chinese “sister cities,” in efforts aimed at wooing Chinese investors to their communities and in search of export opportunities to China’s growing consumer market.

The intense mutual lobbying between local U.S. and Chinese officials is expected to hit a new zenith in mid July, as our nation’s state Governors gather in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the summer meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA). Their Chinese counterparts will join them there at the NGA’s first U.S.-China Governors Forum.

The Forum was created with the help of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s White House visit in January. In a January 19, 2011 press statement, Secretary Clinton announced a “Memorandum of Understanding concerning the establishment of the U.S.-China Governors Forum to Promote Sub-National Cooperation,” which she said was the culmination of two years of effort by the Obama administration “to extend mutual understanding and interests beyond national governments to individuals, businesses, and state and provincial governments.”

However, the NGA’s scripted chorus line, with U.S. governors and Chinese provincial officials linking arms in smiley-faced, harmonious poses, is already generating sour notes with many constituents who see the song-and-dance routine as more cover for the continued transfer of the U.S. industrial and economic base to China. With most of America’s manufacturing base and much of our technology and jobs already having been shipped to China, the Beijing regime’s strategists are now targeting the remaining U.S. hi-tech sectors, as well as agricultural and food production, pharmaceuticals, and nutritional supplements. In addition to alarm over the ongoing strip mining of America’s productive capabilities, many Americans are becoming more concerned about plans by their state and local officials to implement Chinese-styled Special Economic Zones, or SEZs, with the help of China’s state-run corporations. Besides dragging the American economy further into socialist/fascist central planning, the SEZs would likely serve as a springboard for massive transfers of Chinese emigrants to the United States to serve in the new SEZ workforce.

Two Idaho women have led the effort to spread the alarm over the new U.S.-China “Sub-National Cooperation” effort, and particularly the U.S.-China Governors Forum. They are Jane Lesko, president of the Idaho Chapter of Eagle Forum, the national organization founded and headed by Phyllis Schlafly; and researcher Vicky Davis, whose website, www.channelingreality.com, has brought to light many of the documents, meetings and agreements that underlie the new cozy relations between U.S. politicians and their communist counterparts in China. Lesko and Davis have become significant thorns in the side of Idaho’s Republican Governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, who has made increased cooperation with China a key plank in his economic program for the Gem State. In a January 7 letter sent to all Idaho legislators, Lesko asked the lawmakers to “stop the plans for the Communist Chinese to set up businesses or investing in businesses in Idaho.” “We see this as a national security issue,” said Lesko, asking further that the legislators set up a special investigation of “this Trojan Horse system” and those promoting it.

Oklahoma’s Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, is also feeling some heat over her coziness with Beijing. Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise (OK-SAFE, Inc.), a coalition of prominent Oklahoma conservatives with proven effectiveness in political and educational battles, has taken aim at Fallin’s participation in the NGA’s Salt Lake City Governors Forum.  In an article posted on its website on June 7, entitled “Sleeping with the Enemy — U.S. Governors to Pair Up with Chinese Officials,” OK-SAFE urged Oklahomans to contact Gov. Fallin and ask her about details of the U.S.-China dealings under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated by the Obama administration and the NGA with Beijing. Gov. Fallin is a member of the NGA’s Economic Development and Commerce Committee. One of the questions OK-SAFE has for Governor Fallin — and Hillary Clinton — is: “Where’s the MOU?”

As usual, despite the standard talk about “transparency,” the NGA and State Department have not released a copy of the MOU so that citizens can decide for themselves whether their elected officials are cutting deals that would harm or help their state and their nation. This reporter has been unable to locate a copy of the MOU on either the State Department or NGA websites, and the State Department has not returned our repeated calls for a copy. If the deals contained in the MOU are completely straightforward, then what’s to hide? Why not put it out in the open? It does seem that the more our leaders associate with the (Communist) party leaders in China, the more they are willing to emulate the Chinese Communist Party’s proclivity for secrecy and autocratic rule.

Having failed to obtain a copy of the MOU by simply asking, as citizens should be able to do in a free republic, OK-SAFE has had to resort to filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the State Department.

Nationally, The John Birch Society is one of the few organizations challenging the conventional Republican-Democrat wisdom on this issue, which seems to be that any and all expansion of political and economic ties with Communist China is a wonderful thing. In the Society’s July Bulletin, an article by Larry Greenley, “The U.S.-China Governors Forum Leads to Disaster!”, urged members to “contact your governor now and ask him or her to protect our national independence and prosperity by avoiding further entanglements with the state-run corporations of communist China and by not participating in the U.S.-China Governors’ Forum in Salt Lake City on July 15-17.”

Censoring the “C” word
One of the most striking features to be observed in the press releases and statements from individual Governors, the NGA and the State Department is the concerted effort to avoid the “C” word — i.e., Communist — even when dealing with the official titles of Communist Party officials from China. This conscious censorship is also employed by U.S. media organizations, apparently because they do not wish to remind their audiences that the foreign officials who are being extolled so glowingly are actually stooges for a totalitarian, repressive one-party state.

Take for instance, this excerpt from a report in the Salt Lake Tribune last February 26 announcing the forthcoming U.S.-China Governors Forum (italics has been added for emphasis):

“This is a pioneering undertaking to expand bilateral cooperation,” said Zhou Qiang, party secretary for Hunan Province in central China….

Zhou and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed an accord Saturday that formalized the relationship, which seeks to foster face-to-face discussions between governors and Chinese provincial party leaders about trade and educational exchanges.

Nowhere in the article is the Communist Party of China even mentioned.  Zhou Qiang is simply described as a “party secretary” and we are given vague reference to “provincial party leaders.” What kind of party? Birthday party? Halloween party? Democrat Party? Republican Party? Why the determined effort to censor the obvious? Would a reporter write about a Democratic Party event or a Republican Party event and never once mention the proper name of the party? Would journalists in the late 1930s or 1940s have mentioned (or would reporters today, for that matter, mention) Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Goring, Joseph Goebbels, Alfred Rosenberg, or any of Hitler’s top eschelon without noting that they were officials in the Nazi Party of Germany? Of course not.

But this kind of censorship has been practiced for so long by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. media and has become so extensive that it is rarely even questioned anymore. It is no secret that Zhou Qiang is one of the pampered princelings of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and has been so all of his adult life, since joining the CPC in 1978. As the screenshot below of Zhou’s official bio from the Chinese Government’s web portal makes abundantly clear, Zhou is a lifelong member of the communist apparatus that holds Hunan Province in its bloody, iron grip. In fact, he is the top Communist Party henchman for Beijing in Hunan.

Zhou Qiang

Likewise, this report from China’s official Xinhua news agency minces no words regarding Zhou’s CPC credentials:

China-U.S. Governors Forum, a newly launched sub-national consultation mechanism, will strengthen bilateral cooperation in a more effective way, a senior Chinese official said here Saturday.

“The forum is one of the direct, pragmatic and effective platforms between the two countries,” Zhou Qiang, secretary of the Hunan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, told reporters on the sidelines of the U.S. National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting.

However, our State Department, the National Governors Association, and media organs covering these events have elected not to pass this information on to their American constituents and audiences. Moreover, they can also be relied upon to pointedly ignore the policies of horrendous human rights abuse, religious persecution, and political repression — even torture and murder — that are being carried out by their Chinese Communist Party hosts.

Comrade Zhou Qiang’s Hunan Province, like all of Communist China, is a brutal prison, as is readily apparent from numerous, independent reports, such as those herehereherehere, and here — for starters. Many additional reports can readily be accessed by any Internet search engine, but the  Governors, Mayors, and other starry-eyed officials don’t seem to be interested in such things.

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert’s website provides many cheery accounts of his trade mission to China in April, 2011 that resemble the tone of Salt Lake Tribune article cited above. One of his press releases from Beijing excitedly reports that he was privileged to meet State Councilor Dai Binggou. It reads:

Today, Governor Gary R. Herbert, and delegates of his trade mission, had the opportunity to meet with Dai Bingguo, State Councilor of the People’s Republic of China. This meeting is one example of how the Governor’s trade mission is building crucial relationships with Chinese officials. These relationships are critical in helping Utah businesses navigate the complex rules involved in doing business with China. “We’re here to lay the foundations for a durable relationship between Utah and China,” said Governor Gary Herbert.

Most Americans have no idea what the PRC’s State Council is. China’s official government portal provides this description:

The State Council of the People’s Republic of China, namely the Central People’s Government, is the highest executive organ of State power, as well as the highest organ of State administration. The State Council is composed of a premier, vice-premiers, State councilors, ministers in charge of ministries and commissions, the auditor-general and the secretary-general.

All of the State Councilors are, of course, top members of the Communist Party of China. Comrade Dai Bingguo’s official biography (translated courtesy of Babelfish.com) tells us that he has been a member of the CPC since 1973 and a member of the Central Committee since 2008. However, it is unlikely that Governor Herbert asked Comrade Bingguo or any other Chinese officials about the status of Ai Weiwei, China’s most famous artist, who disappeared after arrest on April 3, just days before Gov. Herbert’s visit. (Ai Weiwei was released on June 22, but many other dissidents and  human rights activists who have disappeared into China’s gulag’s remain in prison — or may already have been killed.)

American Governors, Mayors, and County Commissioners who come to China as supplicants rarely risk spoiling the wining and dining festivities — not to mention spoiling their hoped-for economic deals — by bringing up embarrassing topics such as gross human rights atrocities, spying, technology theft, and support for terrorists and terror regimes. Like our national politicians, most of them seem to be incapable even of demonstrating enlightened self-interest, insofar as it relates to our national security and independence. Nor do they appear to be inclined to oppose policies that would increasingly make the continued economic viability of our states and communities inextricably intertwined with — and subject to — the five-year plans of China’s  Communist Party functionaries. It is up to constituents to make these issues important enough that wayward and pragmatic politicians will “find their conscience.” In other words, as is usually the case with politicians, they must be made to feel the heat before they will see the light.

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