BEI­JING FEARS ANTI-CHINA SEN­TI­MENT

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY BILL GERTZ

The po­lit­i­cal hys­te­ria sweep­ing Wash­ing­ton over al­le­ga­tions of Rus­sian med­dling in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is re­ver­ber­at­ing in China. The com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment is wor­ried that a sim­i­lar wave of anti-China sen­ti­ment will take hold in the United States.

Ac­cord­ing to China watch­ers in and out of gov­ern­ment, what Bei­jing fears most is that spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller, the for­mer FBI di­rec­tor, will add White House deal­ings with China to his in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rus­sian elec­tion med­dling.

One main ef­fort of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is try­ing to tamp down the fall­out from news re­ports that first sur­faced in March re­veal­ing a com­pany owned by the fam­ily of Pres­i­dent Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, was plan­ning to sell a stake in a Man­hat­tan sky­scraper to the Chi­nese state-con­nected in­sur­ance com­pany An­bang for $400 mil­lion.

The pro­posed sale of 666 Fifth Ave., re­ported by Bloomberg and The New York Times, has all the trap­pings of a Chi­nese in­flu­ence op­er­a­tion de­signed to boost China’s ac­cess to Mr. Kush­ner, con­sid­ered one of the pres­i­dent’s most in­flu­en­tial for­eign pol­icy ad­vis­ers and among those who fa­vor con­cil­ia­tory poli­cies to­ward Bei­jing.

The pro­posed deal would give An­bang a piece of the prop­erty re­port­edly val­ued at $2.8 bil­lion, con­sid­ered high for New York real es­tate. The pur­chase plan called for An­bang to even­tu­ally take a con­trol­ling stake in the build­ing and re­fur­bish it with a $4 bil­lion loan.

In Novem­ber, Mr. Kush­ner was treated to an ex­pen­sive din­ner by An­bang Chair­man Wu Xio­hui at the Wal­dorf As­to­ria, bought by An­bang in 2014 for $2 bil­lion. The sale put an end to the sto­ried hotel’s use as a res­i­dence for vis­it­ing Amer­i­can pres­i­dents over con­cerns about Chi­nese elec­tronic spy­ing.

Mr. Kush­ner has re­cused him­self from the deal­ings of the com­pany, Kush­ner Cos., in Novem­ber, and sold his in­ter­est to a blind trust, ac­cord­ing to a spokes­woman. But the pro­posed Kush­ner-An­bang deal has not less­ened spec­u­la­tion about con­flicts of in­ter­est.

Mr. Wu is one of China’s “princelings,” as the off­spring of wealthy elite Com­mu­nist Party lead­ers are called. He is mar­ried to the grand­daugh­ter of the late Chi­nese leader Deng Xiaop­ing. In China’s sys­tem, such con­nec­tions of­ten pro­duce vast wealth.

The con­tro­versy deep­ened last week when Mr. Wu sud­denly dis­ap­peared from pub­lic view. An­bang is­sued a state­ment June 13 tersely say­ing Mr. Wu “is tem­po­rar­ily un­able to ful­fill his role for per­sonal rea­sons.”

Amer­i­can China spe­cial­ists say the ac­tion against Mr. Wu ap­pears aimed at avoid­ing a po­lit­i­cal back­lash against the per­ceived Chi­nese in­flu­ence op­er­a­tion di­rected at the Trump White House.

Un­like Rus­sia’s elec­tion op­er­a­tion that in­volved hack­ing and the dis­sem­i­na­tion of stolen emails, Chi­nese in­flu­ence op­er­a­tions in re­cent years are aimed at Amer­i­can pol­i­cy­mak­ers through the use of for­mer of­fi­cials, like for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Henry Kissinger, and for­mer se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cers, like re­tired Adm.

Bill Owens, a for­mer vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mr. Trump met with Mr. Kissinger, who is said to be close to Mr. Kush­ner, in the White House on May 12 — co­in­ci­den­tally the same day the pres­i­dent met with Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov and Rus­sia’s U.S. am­bas­sador, Sergey Kislyak.

Pub­lished leaks from the meet­ing with the Rus­sians al­leged that Mr. Trump dis­closed clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion about Is­lamic State plots to use lap­top com­put­ers as air­craft bombs. It was dur­ing that meet­ing that Mr. Trump also re­port­edly re­ferred to fired FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey as a “nut job.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The pro­posed sale of a stake in 666 Fifth Ave., a Man­hat­tan sky­scraper owned by Kush­ner Cos., to the Chi­nese state-con­nected in­sur­ance com­pany An­bang has of­fi­cials in Bei­jing con­cerned about fall­out.

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