The George H.W. Bush Foundation for US-China Relations, which was founded by the late Republican president's son, Neil Bush in 2017, was recently revealed to be funded by China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), which is linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under its leader, Xi Jinping.
The foundation was established in May 2017 and began full operations on September 1, 2019, just months before George H. W. Bush passed in November. Its "active, wide-ranging and highly innovative program of activities" seeks to promote the "most consequential bilateral relationship in the world" between China and the U.S.
According to Axios, however, the George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations had recently accepted $5 million in funding from CUSEF, which not only is closely linked to communist Chinese government officials, but also has a "reputation as an arm of Beijing's political influence operation." The report also indicates that CUSEF provided a "significant share of the funds" for the Bush foundation's efforts to improve relations between the U.S. and China.
"We are proud of our partnership with CUSEF and deeply appreciative of CUSEF's generous support," Bush foundation spokesperson Leslie Reagan, who confirmed the authenticity of the $5 million deal, told Axios. "(T)he Bush China Foundation has staked out a very strong independent posture on virtually all of the major issues in the U.S.-China relationship; in the process, we have frequently leveled sharp criticism of Chinese policies and actions when we believe that has been merited."
However, the Hong Kong-based CUSEF is led by the the city's former chief executive, Tung Chee-Hwa, who is also the vice-chair of a Beijing-based advisory body that promotes the political objectives of the CCP. This advisory body is led by a Politburo official named Wang Yang, who oversees China's "united front" global influence campaign.
Breitbart reported that CUSEF's relationship with the CCP has been "widely documented." In fact, the Jamestown Foundation wrote in a 2020 report that "CUSEF is indeed a major player in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s organizational apparatus for conducting united front work in the United States."
But representatives in the CCP-linked firm insist that they are "not an agent of the Chinese Communist Party." Foreign Policy reported in 2017 that as per CUSEF representatives, they only "cooperated on projects with the People's Liberation Army" and uses the Chinese embassy's Washington PR firm. (It's worth noting, however, that reports revealed the CCP paid millions of dollars to western media outlets, including Foreign Policy, to promote propaganda. The Washington Free Beacon noted that the outlet recently ramped up advertising deals with China Daily, a state-controlled media outlet, and also revealed that it had received more than $630,000 for promotions since 2019.)
This isn't the first time a Bush foundation was found to have ties with a CCP-linked firm. The Project on Government Oversight recently reported that the George W. Bush Center lists the China CEFC Energy Company as one of its donors in the Freedom Registry section of its website.
According to CNN, China CEFC Energy Company was formerly headed by Ye Jianming, who led a "$44 billion business empire." The report also describes China CEFC Energy Company as a company that "aligned itself so closely with the Chinese government that it was often hard to distinguish between the two."
But the Bush foundation shut down assumptions that they were under China's bidding. Their agreement with the CCP-linked form reads, "The Bush China Foundation in no way acts under the order, request, direction or control of CUSEF. This agreement establishes no 'principal'/'agent' relationship between the two parties."