It looks like there’s a lot of truth in the video Mike blogged about this afternoon.

Axios dropped a report of a suspected Chinese intelligence officer targeting California politicians between 2011 and 2015, including Reps. Eric Swalwell and Tulsi Gabbard.

The woman is Fang Fang or Christine Fang.

Her operation “targeted up-and-coming politicians in the Bay Area and across the country who had the potential to make it big on the national stage.”

Operation

Fang had a well-thought-out plan:

She used political gatherings, civic society conferences, campaign rallies, and campus events to connect with elected officials and other prominent figures, according to U.S. intelligence officials, Bay Area political operatives, former students, and current and former elected officials who knew her.

  • U.S. intelligence officials believed she was overseeing likely unwitting subagents whom she helped place in local political and congressional offices.
  • Fang attended regional conferences for U.S. mayors, which allowed her to grow her network of politicians across the country.
  • She also engaged in sexual or romantic relationships with at least two mayors of Midwestern cities over a period of about three years, according to one U.S. intelligence official and one former elected official.
  • At least two separate sexual interactions with elected officials, including one of these Midwestern mayors, were caught on FBI electronic surveillance of Fang, according to two intelligence officials. Axios was unable to identify or speak to the elected officials.

Swalwell, Gabbard, and Other Politicians

Axios described Swalwell as one of “the most significant targets.” Fang sunk her teeth into Swalwell “when he was a councilmember for Dublin City, California.” US officials traced her earliest engagement to him “through the Chinese Student Association,” which makes sense. Axios wrote that people considered Swalwell’s 2012 bid a longshot so he relied on support from Asian Americans.

  • Fang took part in fundraising activity for Swalwell’s 2014 re-election campaign, according to a Bay Area political operative and a current U.S. intelligence official. Swalwell’s office was directly aware of these activities on its behalf, the political operative said. That same political operative, who witnessed Fang fundraising on Swalwell’s behalf, found no evidence of illegal contributions.
  • Federal Election Commission records don’t indicate Fang herself made donations, which are prohibited from foreign nationals.
  • Fang helped place at least one intern in Swalwell’s office, according to those same two people, and interacted with Swalwell at multiple events over the course of several years.

HOWEVER! Once the FBI alerted Swalwell about Fang he immediately cut ties with her. No one has accused him of any wrongdoing.

The FBI told Swalwell about Fang in 2015 during a “defensive briefing.” Fang left America in mid-2015 and did not respond to Axios.

But Fang also “volunteered for Ro Khanna’s unsuccessful 2014 House bid.” Khanna said he never communicated with Fang and the 2014 campaign staff does not have her name on any staff or volunteer records.

Fang worked on a fundraiser for Gabbard (D-HI) in 2013. She shared the flyer on Facebook, which has her name on it. Gabbard does not remember if she ever met Fang or talked with her. She also doesn’t know how extensive Fang helped with the fundraiser.

Fremont City Councilmember Raj Salwan also appeared on the flyer, but does not know about “Fang’s role in the event and her name was added to the flyer by other Asian American leaders.”

Fang had her picture taken with Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), who does not have any records of Christine Fang. She also had a photo with then-Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA). He does not remember meeting her.

Why California’s Bay Area?

California’s Bay Area has the country’s “largest and oldest Chinese American communities.” San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the top tourist attractions:

Keeping tabs on Chinese diaspora communities is a top priority of China’s intelligence services, U.S. officials said.

  • China’s spy services want to influence these communities to become more predisposed to the regime, as well as surveil and stamp out potential organized opposition to the Communist Party.
  • Access to local political offices can give Beijing’s intelligence operatives opportunities to collect information on communities of Chinese descent in the United States.
  • A high-profile example of this occurred in the 2000s, when China’s Ministry of State Security allegedly recruited a San Francisco-based staffer in Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office. This person, who was fired when the FBI alerted Feinstein to his activities, was responsible for liaising with the local Chinese community.

Silicon Valley, which is “the world’s most important center for the technology industry,” sits within the Bay Area as well.

It’s not a coincidence the report includes Democrats. The Democratic Party has a stronghold over “the Bay Area, from mayors to its numerous U.S. congressional districts, and anyone seeking proximity to power needs to be in their political circle.”

But California in general is a need for these spies. A lot of America’s big-name politicians begin their careers in California. It makes sense to target these people since they’re more likely to move onto the national stage. California also has the largest economy among the states, which means massive influence.

How many more Fangs are around?

 

 
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