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Republicans fear exchange program put national security at risk

- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2012

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — The Republican National Committee on Thursday took up a highly charged resolution Thursday calling for congressional hearings on whether former high-ranking U.S. military officers' financial relations with state-owned businesses in communist China compromised national security.

The issue resolves around the "Sanya Initiative," the subject of an extensive report by the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in February. That report outlined what the authors said was an effort by Chinese intelligence services to use a private exchange program involving retired U.S. and Chinese military officers for propaganda purposes and to downplay China's military buildup.

One former member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff reportedly received as much as $100 million worth of business from Chinese firms in Hong Kong, according to the report.

According to the RNC resolution, which represented an unusual foray into foreign policy by the party organization, the top-ranking former U.S. flag officers may have lobbied Congress on behalf of Chinese interests while failing to register with the U.S. government as foreign agents.

The resolution's sponsors, all elected members of the RNC, claim China's intelligence agencies have been engaged in a "major covert influence campaign aimed at derailing the United States' military shift to Asia," as outlined in a preliminary draft report by the commission.

Citing reports in the Washington Free Beacon, an online news website, the resolution's framers say that the commission's final report omitted this key sentence contained in an earlier draft: "Institutions and persons affiliated with the Peoples Liberation Army military intelligence entities play a prominent role in the Sanya Initiative."

The reason for the omission, according to the resolution, was that "some of Sanya's U.S. participants and senior commission members were concerned about portraying the exchange program negatively."

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