Whether it be Italians, Jews, Koreans, or Chinese, immigrant communities settling in the United States have often looked to those who came before them not only as role models but champions who knocked down the walls of bigotry and opened paths of economic prosperity.

Yet, there have been stages in American history when the interests of the old country come to the shores of the US and groups are established not for the betterment of the immigrants, but rather to do the bidding of the old country. British loyalists after the Revolutionary War, the German-American Friendship Societies of the early 20th century, the Irish Republican Army, and a multitude of small fringe groups that to this day clamour around Washington DC urging American action of some sort in their former home nation.

The Committee of 100.

Chinese Americans are now having to deal with this part of the American experience, as China moves from strategic rival to open opponent of the United States.  The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is advancing its interests through its United Front operations. Be it a Confucius Institute or Patriotic Association focused on the reunification of Taiwan, the CCP is open and active in trying to gain an advantage in US politics and policy.

Nowhere is that pressure by the CCP more obvious than in a Beijing friendly circle of elites called the Committee of 100.  They bill themselves as a group of “Extraordinary Chinese-Americans” with the following mission;

  • Promoting the full participation of all Chinese Americans in American society and acting as a public policy resource for the Chinese-American community
  • Advancing constructive dialogue and relationships between the peoples and leaders of the United States and Greater China.

Here’s the problem.  In regards to the first goal, the Committee does little in terms of promoting full participation of Chinese-Americans in American society.  In fact, out of over a dozen public statements in the last two years, only one is clearly concerned with discrimination against Chinese Americans as a group.  Discrimination at Harvard and Ivy League schools against Chinese-Americans.  In other words, they want their kids to get in.

File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Where is the Committee on the thousands of Chinese-American high school students who are about to be denied a spot at New York City’s elite high schools because the mayor of New York City wants to limit the number of Asian-American students in order to make way for other minorities? Where is the Committee on sex trafficking? Immigrant Chinese women are far more likely than any other race in the US to be trafficked.  Not even the rising instances of hate crimes against Chinese-Americans gets the attention of the Committee.

So what does the Committee of 100 fight for?

Well, if you take them at their word, it’s pretty much anything that benefits the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  Think I’m kidding? Scan their website.  The one human rights issue they go after is Chinese scientists being falsely accused of spying.  It’s good to question the government and there is a valid complaint with the cases of Dr. Sherry Lin and Dr. Xiao XingXi, where the US government brought charges that failed. But that’s two. On the other side, dozens of convictions or pleas of Chinese nationals or Chinese-Americans in less time than these two bad cases spanned make it obvious that the CCP is using ethnic Chinese as tools in spying.  Any chance the Committee says boo to the CCP about endangering Chinese-Americans?

Do we hear about the lack of human rights in China? No. Are there concerns about the Uyghurs?  No. Is the Committee concerned about religious freedom in China? Nope. And is there any concern about the build-up of the PLA or ongoing espionage threat to the US from the CCP?

Photo: The Committee of 100 website.

The website and their conferences tell the story.  The Committee of 100 is a pro-Beijing group, concerned almost exclusively with the interests aligned with those of the Chinese Communist Party.  In all their discussions about the US-China relationship try to find any significant objection to the actions of the CCP. You won’t.

Yes, cynical, but we are talking about a group that puts out press statements to support visas for Chinese students yet nothing for thousands of Asian-American school kids in New York City about to be denied an education because of the color of their skin.

Chinese Americans are not the first ethnic group a foreign government tried to corrupt in order to influence US policy. Nor is the Committee of 100 the first group to be called out on their actions on behalf of a foreign government.

But the Committee of 100 shouldn’t be allowed to mask its efforts on behalf of the CCP just because its membership has money.

Kong Tsung-gan‘s new collection of essays – narrative, journalistic, documentary, analytical, polemical, and philosophical – trace the fast-paced, often bewildering developments in Hong Kong since the 2014 Umbrella Movement. As Long As There Is Resistance, There Is Hope is available exclusively through HKFP with a min. HK$200 donation. Thanks to the kindness of the author, 100 per cent of your payment will go to HKFP’s critical 2019 #PressForFreedom Funding Drive.

Mark Simon

Mark Simon is a Senior Executive with Next Media and writes the Second Opinion Column in Apple Daily.