A recently published investigative report from this week out of the Associated Press discovered that China has been able to build ties with people out of Utah that have led to the communist nation securing a number of public relations and legislative wins from the state and its legislators.
The report indicated that Chinese officials “appeared” to the legislator’s ties to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a means to curry favor with them which was used as a way to secure more wins in a large number of areas, such as setting up roadblocks to delay legislation which sought to fight Chinese propaganda, stopping a number of resolutions that sought to condemn China, and promoted a number of false images putting China in a good light. The report indicated that the church has “long dreamed of expanding in China.”
“Utah is an important foothold,” explained Frank Montoya Jr., a retired FBI agent that specialized in counterintelligence that lives in the state. “If the Chinese can succeed in Salt Lake City, they can also make it in New York and elsewhere.”
Lawmakers delayed the official closing of Chinese-funded Confucius Institutes, which are well-known to be entities for spouting propaganda, that have been set up on the campuses of state universities by another year.
One letter exchange set up by a Chinese teacher working in Utah ended up with fourth-grade students being sent correspondence directly from Chinese President Xi Jinping which thanked them for a number of cards the teacher had the students create and send him. The incident was utilized by members of the Chinese state media as a means to spotlight Xi as a more warm grandfatherly figure when he is actually most well known as a brutal dictator who has forced tens of thousands of people in his country into concentration camps. Some state legislators were head over heels bragging about the cards sent by the Chinese president to the kids, explained one report.
The Ministry of State Security (MSS), China’s civilian spy agency, has also been heavily focused on the state of Utah, explained the report, highlighting that there have been an elevated number of people convicted of spying for China within the state.
The report indicated that groups of lawmakers from Utah have been taking trips out to China every other year since back in 2007 and they make statements while visiting which are later utilized as propaganda by state media.
Another report indicated that most of the activity was planned by two men, Taowen Le, a Chinese professor who moved to the U.S. in the late 90s; and Dan Stephenson, the son of a former state senator and employee of a China-based consulting firm.