- A think tank that U.S. officials consider a Chinese influence agent has cultivated ties to Historically Black Colleges and Universities since 2014 .
- The China-U.S. Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) has paid a consultant nearly $670,000 since 2017 to arrange student visits from the schools to China, as well as to make introductions to members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
- CIA Director William Burns testified last month that he grew suspicious of CUSEF’s activities when he led the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank that had a relationship with the Chinese group.
- The FBI provided security briefings to presidents of HBCUs prior to CUSEF-funded trips they made to China, according to documents filed with the Justice Department.
A Hong Kong-based think tank suspected of working as a front group for the Chinese Communist Party has cultivated close ties to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and members of the Congressional Black Caucus since 2014.
The China-U.S. Exchange Foundation’s (CUSEF) outreach to the black community is part of a broad initiative to cozy up to prominent organizations in the U.S., including foreign policy think tanks and other elite universities.
CUSEF’s activities have drawn the attention of CIA Director William Burns, who testified at his Senate confirmation hearing last month that he cut ties with CUSEF when he was president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace out of concern over “Chinese influence operations.”
Most of CUSEF’s contacts with HBCUs and Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members have been arranged by Wilson Global Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based communications firm.
Since 2018, Wilson Global Communications has disclosed its activities for CUSEF to the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a law that regulates foreign lobbying activity.
According to Wilson Global’s most recent FARA filing, submitted March 22, CUSEF paid the firm $89,844 over the past six months to hold virtual meetings with the leaders of HBCUs and college students. She also had contact with Yu Jiang, a professor at Xavier University who operates the school’s Confucius Institute, which U.S. officials also consider to be an influence agent of the Chinese government.
CUSEF has paid Wilson Global $667,641 since January 2017, according to FARA filings.
In its FARA disclosures, Wilson Global says it provides CUSEF with “communications and public relations services, which included outreach to U.S. elected officials.”
The firm coordinates trips for college students and leaders of HBCUs to China, all funded by CUSEF. Wilson Global has also arranged contact between CUSEF and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Julia Wilson, the owner of Wilson Global, has held meetings with CBC members Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, Jim Clyburn, Donald Payne, and others, according to Wilson Global’s FARA filings.
On July 12, 2019, Wilson Global hosted a virtual event for Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson and CUSEF advisor Alan Wong held at Clark Atlanta University, an HBCU.