- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The White House doesn’t need this.

On Thursday, President Trump is hosting a dinner at the sumptuous Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. for the 168 members of the Republican National Committee. The GOP’s national governing body raised a record-shattering $132.5 million in 2017, a non-election year.

Nice gesture by the president. But unbeknown to him, two of the committee’s top officials are throwing each other under the rickshaw over a trip one of them took to Beijing.

Financing for the trip came from the EastWest Institute, a group that has an underwriter and two board members closely associated with China’s ruling Communist Party. The Washington-Beijing excursion accomplished its purpose, which was to burnish President Xi Jinping’s global image and to undermine America’s leadership in the world.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, is said to be doing a slow burn over Mr. Xi’s emergence as Mao Zedong in a Brioni suit, Ferragamo wingtips and a plan to turn the world into his version of a totalitarian neo-communism.

Mr. Trump wasn’t in the burnishing mood at Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech, instead ripping communist China a new one. “Around the world,” he said, “we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy and our values.”

So it’s understandable that when RNC Chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel found out that RNC Treasurer Tony Parker, traveling on the EastWest Institute’s dime, got face time with Mr. Xi in December, she wasn’t at all happy with such chumminess.

Mr. Parker said he had accepted the EastWest Institute’s offer that if he went a few days before the conference, he could meet with Mr. Xi and then give a stand-alone address to the whole conference.

Had Mr. Parker told to her that he was flying off to see Mr. Xi personally and then to address an international conference sponsored by the Chinese Communist Party?

“I told her I was going to do it,” Mr. Parker said in an interview. “I informed her I was going.”

Mrs. McDaniel declined requests for an interview, but at a White House Christmas party in December, she told Oregon RNC member Solomon Yue that she never got word of Mr. Parker ‘s impending trip.

The RNC chairman told Mr. Yue that if Mr. Parker had asked for authorization to attend the Beijing meeting, she would have said “no.”

“I would never authorize the RNC’s sending representatives to such events,” she said, according to Mr. Yue.

Mr. Parker said he did not clear his trip with the Trump White House and has not heard from the White House since his trip.

Did Mr. Parker think Beijing was and is trying to influence the way American businesses operate in China and the U.S.? “Not based on anything I saw or heard while I was there,” he said.

Mr. Parker’s visit has left conservative Republicans astonished and angry.

Former Idaho GOP chairman Steve Yates wondered why a senior official of Republican Party’s national governing body “voluntarily served as a prop for Mr. Xi.

“The Chinese press played this as the governing party in the U.S. dispatching a top official to congratulate President Xi Jinping,” said Mr. Yates, who was a foreign-policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. “If I am part of any political party and that is the headline that thanked me for traveling to a foreign capital, I have to have second thoughts about why I did this. I don’t think any political party has an advantage in congratulating a non-elected leader like Xi. It looked like the RNC fell into a Communist Chinese influence-operation trap.”

A representative of Human Rights Watch who attended the Beijing meeting was shocked to see a top GOP official have an audience with Mr. Xi before the conference kickoff and then address the whole conference, further lending prestige and legitimization to Mr. Xi.

“I thought it odd that any organization from a democracy would send representative to something like that and not be critical of its one-party state and record on human rights,” said Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, who was there to keep tabs on how Xi-ism treats human-rights issues.

Equally chagrined was Gordon Chang, an American attorney who has lived and worked in Shanghai and Hong Kong. He pronounced it “extremely ill advised for anybody, especially for a prominent American, to attend that meeting. Certainly the RNC had no business attending.”

“The Communist Party of China has a broad outreach effort underway to undermine American democracy,” said Mr. Chang, author of two books, “The Coming Collapse of China” and “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.”

Some American policymakers have attempted to integrate China’s political system into the community of democracies in the world. “Clearly China doesn’t want to be integrated,” Mr. Chang said.

What good things for mankind did Mr. Parker think people can expect from Beijing’s leadership in efforts to establish international cooperation?

“They are absolutely committed to peaceful progress for the world – absolutely,” Mr. Parker said. “If you take them for what they said, they are just absolutely committed to a strong America as critical to world peace.”


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