Chinese billionaire Ye Jianming, who has been linked to large cash payments to President Biden’s son Hunter Biden and the Biden family, worked for a unit of the People’s Liberation Army involved in covert influence operations against the United States.
Mr. Ye, former chairman of the now-defunct CEFC China Energy Co. Ltd., has been held in China on bribery charges since 2018.
Documents and emails obtained from the younger Mr. Biden’s laptop provide details on payments from Mr. Ye and his company to the Biden family. The activities are reportedly the subject of a federal investigation.
Two studies of Chinese influence operations identified Mr. Ye as part of a special information warfare unit of the PLA called “Base 311.” The unit is engaged in what Beijing calls the “three warfares” — public opinion warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare.
The younger Mr. Biden, who worked for a U.S. investment firm, met with Mr. Ye and CEFC Executive Director Jianjun Zang in December 2015, and two years later was offered $10 million a year for arranging “introductions,” according to emails contained in Hunter Biden’s laptop left at a Delaware computer repair shop.
The deal included a gift to Hunter Biden of a 3-carat diamond worth $80,000, one document shows.
According to the publication “Chinese Influence Operations — A Machiavellian Moment,” by Paul Charon and Jean-Baptiste Jeangene Vilmer, Mr. Ye founded a front used by Base 311 called the Huaxing Training Center in Fujian, near the Chinese coast across from Taiwan. The authors are with the Institute for Strategic Research that is part of the French Ministry for the Armed Forces.
The Huaxing Training Center was set up by a Chinese think tank called the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC), funded by Mr. Ye’s oil conglomerate, CEFC China Energy Co. Ltd.
The think tank “was identified as a platform for political warfare, affiliated to the former General Political Department. Its links to the PLA and the Party have been well documented,” the authors state.
Base 311, which operates behind a facade of several civilian companies, is now part of the PLA’s Strategic Support Force, which conducts information warfare, cyber and military space operations.
Mark Stokes, a former Air Force military attache in China, also reported on Mr. Ye‘s links to the Chinese military in his study of the PLA General Staff Department Unit 61398. He described the Chinese Energy Fund Committee as a PLA “political warfare platform … and [part of] the [Chinese Communist Party’s] propaganda and ideology system.”
In the 2015 report, Mr. Stokes also disclosed that the China Energy Fund Committee and Mr. Ye were linked to a PLA front group known as the Shanghai Association for International Friendly Contact, which he called a “major Shanghai-based influence operations platform.”
“CEFC chairman Ye Jianming also served as SAIFC deputy secretary general in the 2005 time frame,” said Mr. Stokes, now with the Project 2049 Institute, a think tank.
Base 311 has been in charge of political warfare operations since 2011 and has been linked to Chinese efforts to meddle in Taiwan’s 2018 election.
“It also appeared that Base 311 conducts research on the informational environment in the United States,” Mr. Charon and Mr. Jeangene Vilmer wrote. “Affiliated researchers have published reports on the U.S., notably on the potential effects of legislation passed to fight propaganda, the role of social media in American political life, such as their impact on the political polarization, and so on.”
Mr. Ye also influenced the Czech Republic government’s policies toward China after he was hired in 2015 as an adviser to then-President Milos Zeman. Before Mr. Zeman’s election, the Czech government criticized Chinese human rights abuses and supported the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader.
“Under President Zeman, the Czech foreign minister apologized for the previous government’s meetings with the Dalai Lama, and President Zeman said in Beijing that he had not come to ‘teach market economy or human rights,’” the 2018 annual report of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated.
Mr. Zeman also backed some of Beijing‘s highest-profile initiatives, and was the only Western leader to attend China‘s major military parade in 2015. He also praised China‘s Belt and Road Initiative, calling it the “most fascinating project of modern history,” the report said.
• Bill Gertz can be reached at email@example.com.
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