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Will Joe Biden take on our alarming China problem?

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Will Joe Biden take on our alarming China problem? 1

America has a China problem. And so do the Democrats and President-elect Joe Biden.

While everyone worried about the Kremlin the past several years, Beijing ran wild. And it still is. Will the Biden administration do anything about it? Or will it be OK with Chinese influence?

Back in 2015, China was behind a massive hack of records in the Office of Personnel Management, an attack so far-reaching and damaging, experts dubbed it a “Cyber Pearl Harbor.” In addition to federal personnel records — a gold mine for blackmailers and identity thieves — the hackers also stole even more valuable military and intelligence records.

The forms stolen were Standard Form 86, in which employees in sensitive positions list their weaknesses: past arrests, bankruptcies, drug and alcohol problems and the like. The 120-plus pages of questions also ­include civil lawsuits, divorce information, Social Security numbers and information on friends, roommates, spouses and relatives. Yet the Obama-Biden administration did little.

In 2018, Politico reported on extensive Chinese influence operations throughout the United States, and especially in California, where the Chinese Ministry of State ­Security has a special dedicated unit. When Free Tibet and Falun Gong protesters staged a march in San Francisco, the Beijing regime mobilized thousands of Chinese students in America — with threats of withdrawn grant funding if they didn’t cooperate — to stage a counterprotest. There were even box lunches provided.

And The Daily Beast reported about the same time on Chinese influence operations in America, quoting a former CIA official to the effect that Beijing’s goal was to “turn Americans against their own government’s interests and their society’s interest.”

Since then, we’ve seen one arrest after another involving US professors in the pay of the Chinese government. In 2020, 14 academics were arrested for alleged illegal Chinese ties — at places ranging from Harvard to UCLA to Emory to the University of Kansas.

Many universities receive substantial funding via Chinese grants or via Chinese students enrolled at full tuition at Chinese government expense.

Then there are the controversial Confucius Institutes that spread Chinese influence on campuses where they operate. And many university administrators sound like Chinese spokespeople themselves, as when Columbia President Lee Bollinger called on the incoming Biden administration to end surveillance of Chinese ­nationals, even as Columbia reportedly failed to disclose $1 million in funding received via its Confucius Institute (the university insists it complied with disclosure requirements).

Beijing abuses its diplomatic presence here, as well. The State Department ordered the Chinese government’s Houston consulate closed on grounds of spying and theft of intellectual property; there were also unconfirmed reports that it was involved in promoting domestic ­unrest in American cities.

Meanwhile, senior officials have Chinese ties: Hunter Biden’s work for Chinese interests formed the basis of a pre-election scandal, hushed up by mainstream media and Big Tech firms after it was first exposed in this newspaper. And more recently, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) has been ­implicated in a relationship with Chinese operative Christine Fang, while a company belonging to Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, has received payments from a Chinese-linked company, PCCW Media, which is partly owned by Chinese state-run telecom company Unicom. And, of course, Sen. Dianne Feinstein was for years served by a driver who turned out to be a Chinese spy.

US media companies are also prey to Chinese influence: Most major media news operations are controlled by mammoth entertainment companies that now depend on revenues from Chinese markets and have no desire to offend the Communist regime.

The Trump administration’s tougher line on China has found resonance with the American public and, indeed, with many other countries that have come to regard the Chinese as bullies and a threat to freedom. Will the Biden administration give the Chinese a pass, or will it address this threat? Keep a close eye on this question.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.

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