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Media Outlet Semafor’s New Partner has Close Ties to the Chinese Communist Party

Media Outlet Semafor’s New Partner has Close Ties to the Chinese Communist Party

Semafor, founded by Ben Smith, is only five months old but already has many problems.

Political media outlet Semafor, founded by Ben Smith, launched five months ago. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air detailed its “rocky start,” mainly due to its connection with former FTX crypto guy Sam Bankman-Fried.

We all know how everything is going for Bankman-Fried.

Yeah, not good news for a startup. So Semafor is turning its eye to China with the platform China and Global Business (CGB), which will concentrate on U.S.-China relations.

CEO Justin Smith confirmed the relationship in a blog post on March 5:

We’re entering this endeavor with our eyes wide open and we welcome the scrutiny that comes with it. We aren’t under the illusion that Chinese business leaders or other local groups operate independently of the Chinese Communist Party.

Specifically, Chinese law requires foreign news organizations to engage with local partners to produce events like these. In this case, we are working with a Beijing-based think tank, the “Center for China and Globalization,” and the “China Public Diplomacy Association,” an organization under the Foreign Ministry. Those partners will secure required approvals, and issue formal invitations to Chinese speakers and audience members. CCG will take on local administrative responsibilities and coordinate with local sponsors, and Semafor will pay CCG for their services. The platform will be exclusively underwritten by corporate partnerships with no financial contributions from our local Chinese partners or the Chinese government.

We’ve deliberately and explicitly structured these agreements to protect our journalistic independence. We have 100% editorial and commercial control and the project is fully owned and operated by Semafor.

There’s one problem. Semafor chose a think tank in China with “close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”

The Center for China and Globalization (CCG) has a history “of misleading Western audiences about its affiliation with the CCP.”

Axios dug up the history of CCG and its founder and director, Wang Huiyao, who also sits on the CGB board:

Catch up quick: CCG claims to be independent but was founded under the auspices of the Western Returned Scholars Organization.

  • That group is directed by the United Front Work Department (UFWD), a bureau of the Chinese Communist Party focused on amplifying support for the party and marginalizing dissent, both inside and outside of China’s borders.
  • Alex Joske, an Australian expert on UFWD, wrote in a 2018 report that Wang is an “adviser to the UFWD, a member of several united front groups and an important figure in the development of China’s talent recruitment strategy.”

In the past, CCG and Wang have denied any affiliation with the UFWD. In 2018, Wang bowed out of appearing on a panel discussion about the UFWD after his affiliation with that department became public.

  • Wang also does not list anywhere in his current bio on his website that he has been an adviser for the UFWD specifically or that he is affiliated with the Western Returned Scholars Association.
  • But he previously wrote in his Chinese-language biography on the center’s website that he held a position as adviser to the UFWD specifically. (He didn’t disclose that detail on his English-language bio at the time.)
  • He deleted the mention from his Chinese language bio after Foreign Policy reported the affiliation in 2018. Some of his U.S. interlocutors have said that he has denied it, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.
  • CCG at the time tried to downplay Wang’s ties to the UFWD, writing on its website that Foreign Policy’s article “does not accurately reflect how nonprofits work in China.”

Wang isn’t the only problem.

Chinese billionaire Zeng Yuqun sits on the CGB board as well. Yuqun is Beijing’s “Chamber of Commerce” senior executive with many “ties to other Chinese Communist Party front groups.”

During Smith’s time as CEO, the Washington Free Beacon reported that Bloomberg Media “sought to curry favor in Beijing, expanding services for U.S. customers and allowing them greater access to Beijing’s currency market.”

Smith has a history of cozying up to China when he worked as Bloomberg Media’s CEO. He also supposedly has a close relationship with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang.

The Washington Free Beacon also mentioned the time when Bloomberg News allegedly cracked down on a story about the wealth of the CCP elites since it could harm the outlet’s relationship with China. Bloomberg fired the reporter and tried to silence his wife.

Smith was Bloomberg Media’s CEO at that time.


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E Howard Hunt | March 8, 2023 at 9:21 am

These Chinese are very clever. The news readers will disseminate the real news via ocular semaphore, which will subconsciously indoctrinate viewers, and disarm the decadent, occidental mind.

henrybowman | March 8, 2023 at 9:30 am

I just don’t understand why anyone would go through all the trouble of setting up a formal organization to interact with the CCP, when you could just marry it like Mitch, or sleep with it like Eric. That way, at least a portion of the screwing you’re going to get will be enjoyable.

GREAT reporting, Ms. Chastain!!

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