FIRST ON FOX: A longtime public relations consultant, who has worked closely with the Congressional Black Caucus and is currently serving as dean of Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism, has been paid lavishly to target Black universities and government officials on behalf of an organization with deep ties to the Communist Party of China (CCP).
Julia Wilson, whose global communications firm is across the street from the White House, has been paid over $1 million for her work as a foreign agent on behalf of China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), which is an influencing operation described by congressional lawmakers as a “forum designed to advance CCP objectives.”
Wilson laid out the operation for college students in 2017 at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, which is the oldest of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Arkansas. The university’s YouTube channel posted the presentation, which was titled “China Initiative,” showing Wilson articulating how her firm’s relationship with CUSEF began in 2009 when Tung Chee-hwa, CUSEF’s founding chairman, visited her D.C. office in 2009 to learn more about Black Americans.
“In 2009, the former chief executive of Hong Kong visited me in my office with his staff from the China-United States Exchange Foundation, and they wanted to know how we got a Black president,” Wilson told the students during the presentation. “They were saying, ‘We don’t know anything about Black people. So can you write us a white paper and share it with us. How did Black people get enough power to vote a Black man into office?’ So they really needed an overview of our history. Who are we? Who are African Americans?”
In addition to his role with CUSEF, Tung Chee-hwa served as a vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) from 2005 to 2023. The CPPCC is the “key mechanism for multi-party cooperation and political consultation” under the leadership of the CCP, according to the CPPCC website. Fox News Digital previously reported on President Biden’s clean energy czar John Podesta saying he had the “highest regard” for his “friend” Chee-hwa.
Chee-hwa was also the Chinese official that Hunter Biden’s longtime business partner, James “Jimmy” Bulger, requested him to introduce to their Chinese business partners to discuss “BHR investment targets” and “fundraising,” alleging Hunter sat next to Tung at a 2013 dinner welcoming then-Vice President Joe Biden to Beijing, Fox News Digital previously reported.
One report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a U.S. government agency, in 2018 said that the CPPCC is a “central part” of China’s United Front system, which works to “co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”
“So we started there, and then we created an African American Initiative in three different areas: education, business and civic affairs,” Wilson told the students during her presentation. “So, in addition to the HBCU educational program that I’ll talk about, we also manage a program for the Congressional Black Caucus members, of which there are 46, and there are students from the districts they represent. Those students can also study in China under this program.”
Wilson further remarked the initiative started when eight HBCU presidents visited China. While there, Tung Chee-hwa, who Wilson has posted pictures with on her website and included testimonials from him, introduced them to one of the country’s vice premiers, whom Wilson did not name.
“She then flew to Washington, D.C. and made an announcement in 2013 that she would award 1,000 scholarships to African American kids from HBCUs,” Wilson told the students. “She also made the announcement to award 400 scholarships to the 46 Congressional Black Caucus members so that students from their districts could also study in China.”
While a handful of individuals simultaneously hold the title of vice premier in China, Wilson was referring to Liu Yandong, the only female with the title in 2013. Yandong, who has held some of the top positions in the CCP, met with representatives from the Congressional Black Caucus and HBCUs in November of that year and announced student scholarships, according to a press release from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States.
The press release named former Democrat Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, who is now serving as President Biden’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as the chairwoman of the CBC during the meeting with Yandong. The meeting took place a few months after Fudge returned from leading a delegation to China in Aug. 2013.
“The CBC looks forward to continuing the conversations held with officials within the Chinese and Hong Kong governments and with American citizens living abroad to ensure we remain equipped to address the issues facing our nation in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world,” Fudge said in a press release.
Democrat Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Barbara Lee of California, and now-former Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, who is now serving as a co-chair of Biden’s re-election campaign, were some of the other CBC members present at the meeting with Yandong. Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, and four presidents of HBCUs were also in attendance.
“The Chinese government’s commitment: they pay for your tuition, the room and board, and some meals,” Wilson told the students. “The only thing you have to do is raise enough money to get an international ticket to China. Once you get there, all of your expenses are paid for.”
Wilson’s slideshow displayed the participating Chinese universities, including Chongqing University, Dalian University of Technology, University of Science and Technology Beijing, Jinan University in Guangzhou, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, and Shanghai Second Polytechnic University.
She said about 400 HBCU students had participated in the program over the past two years (roughly between 2015 and 2016).
A China expert told Fox News Digital that despite warnings and alarm bells about the CCP’s influence on CUSEF, some politicians and organizations continue to ignore them.
“The concerns about CUSEF aren’t proprietary or secret. Senators, congressional committees, and journalists have all documented the organization’s ties to Beijing’s malign influence and disinformation operations,” Michael Sobolik, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Unfortunately, some American organizations continue to ignore these warnings and have helped CUSEF further penetrate U.S. civil society. The pay is attractive, but that doesn’t change the reality that helping groups like CUSEF helps the CCP and hurts America.”
Another press release that is on the archived version of her firm’s website reveals that the National Urban League’s “Trade and Cultural Mission” trip to China, which was organized by Wilson in 2010, opened doors “to negotiations that culminated in bringing the Confucius Institute to Xavier,” according to the 2012 press release.
“I’m proud that this marks the beginning of what I think is a continuing effort by Xavier to assert itself in a new and emerging global marketplace,” said Morial in a videotaped message played during a president’s gala at Xavier University of Louisiana celebrating the new Confucius Institute. “This is a great day for Xavier. It’s a great day for China-U.S. relations. It’s a great day for the National Urban League.”
Speakers at the gala included former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is currently serving as President Biden’s White House infrastructure Czar, and Chinese Consul General Xu Erwen. A press release said Landrieu “expressed his enthusiastic support of the growth of the Confucius Institute at Xavier when he spoke at the Presidential Gala” and “appreciated the leadership of Hanban and the support given by Hebei University and hoped that the Confucius Institute will become a window through which citizens of the Greater New Orleans area can understand China better.”
“Xavier has become a model agent of change for HBCUs and people of color throughout America, to learn more about China and its peoples,” Wilson said. “This historic agreement between the Chinese government and Xavier was the only Confucius Institute approved in Beijing this past December, where Xavier’s senior vice president Dr. Loren Blanchard traveled and participated in a formal signing ceremony.”
The Confucius Institute at Xavier has since closed, joining hundreds of other closures after lawmakers in the House and Senate sounded the alarm about “the influence and propaganda” that was being espoused by these institutes, The Diplomat reported. A GAO report also found “that in over 91 percent of the 74 colleges and universities who responded [to a survey], the Confucius Institutes were also involved in ‘outreach’ to the business community in their areas,” which sparked concerns.
Wilson has been paid handsomely for her work on behalf of CUSEF. Her firm, Wilson Global Communications, has received over $1 million to act as a foreign agent for CUSEF between 2017 and the end of last year, according to filings to the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The monthly disbursements to her firm range from $11,000 to $15,000.
Its most recent amendment shows that Wilson reported directly to CUSEF’s executive director, Audie Wong, who appears to have also been involved with the CPPCC. Multiple FARA filings also lay out Wilson’s responsibilities on behalf of CUSEF, which includes engaging “to provide communications and public relations services, which may include outreach to U.S. elected officials. As part of its services, Registrant coordinates American student visits and HBCU leadership delegations to China.”
“The goal of the Principal’s mission and the Registrant’s work includes efforts to build and improve dialogue between China and African American education and civic leaders to enhance relations between China and the U.S. in general,” one FARA filing says.
Wilson’s firm has facilitated several meetings with Congressional Black Caucus members as part of her work. For example, in July 2019, her firm held a virtual event with Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson and CUSEF adviser Alan Wong, the Daily Caller previously reported. Wilson has also held discussions with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and now-House assistant Democratic leader Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, among others.
A Fox News Digital review of social media profiles belonging to Wilson and her firm found that she has met with many prominent Democrats over the last decade, including now-former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then-President Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry, among others.
In a 2020 FARA filing, Wilson lists dozens of House and Senate offices that her firm reached out to in 2019 on behalf of CUSEF, which were mostly members of the CBC. The filing also listed dozens of HBCU presidents she reached out to. During the pandemic, FARA filings show that Wilson was reaching out to HBCU administrators and CBC members about “Suspension of Student Study Abroad Programs” and “Potential Virtual Study Abroad Programs” according to detailed calendars of her outreach.
Due to travel restrictions during the pandemic, students couldn’t travel to China, so Wilson worked behind the scenes with HBCUs to facilitate virtual courses on Mandarin that were taught by a Chinese language professor from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Wilson told an Arkansas media outlet that 26 HBCU students from seven universities participated in the course. Despite not being able to help coordinate trips to China during the pandemic, Wilson brought in over $350K between 2020 and 2021.
Wilson, her communication firm, CUSEF, and the Congressional Black Caucus did not respond to Fox News Digital’s inquiries.
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