CCP openly organizing overseas
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times 2017.11.28

According to a report in the news section of the Web site of China’s Dalian University of Technology, seven Chinese state-sponsored visiting academics at the University of California, Davis founded a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) branch, which held its inaugural meeting on Nov. 4.

The branch called on its members to encourage their Chinese colleagues and neighbors to “resist the corrosive effects of negative foreign thinking,” and to try to recruit more party members.

This is the first time since the CCP was established 96 years ago that it has openly established a party apparatus in another country.

This new initiative could be a result of last month’s 19th CCP National Congress, where Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平) delivered a report in which he spoke of “sweeping efforts to strengthen party leadership and party building” and “all-round efforts in the pursuit of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics.”

Strengthening the party’s leadership in other countries would be an essential part of such efforts.

The role of party branches should not be underestimated. Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) greatest contribution to building the communist Red Army, which later became the People’s Liberation Army, was his organizational principle that “the party branch is organized on a company basis.”

Having a party branch in each army company ensured that “the party commands the gun,” and it eventually enabled the CCP to overthrow the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime. The aim of establishing party branches abroad is much the same.

During my schooldays in Indonesia in the 1940s and 1950s, CCP organizations were active at elementary and high schools catering to overseas Chinese children.

I was in fifth grade when a teacher first showed me some left-wing books, and in high school it was commonplace for teachers and students to go to the Chinese consulate on Saturday evenings to “watch movies,” which actually meant doing party-related activities.

The educational and student affairs directors at both of the overseas Chinese high schools in Jakarta were underground members of the CCP.

One of them had taken part in the communists’ 1927 Wuchang Uprising in China’s Hunan Province, while the other had been personally ordered by then-Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (周恩來) to go and do party work in the south.

On the eve of the Indonesian Communist Party’s 1965 coup attempt, they safely returned to China, thus escaping the widespread massacres that followed the failed coup. A name list of overseas Chinese party members was discovered by members of a rebel faction when they attacked the Chinese government’s Committee of Overseas Chinese Affairs in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and it was passed around among overseas Chinese students in China.

I was still young in those days, so I have only been able to retell a few surface impressions in my memoirs. Almost nobody has dared to write down their personal experiences of the subversive activities that the CCP undertook in other countries in those days.

The only one I have seen is Vita Chieu (Vita Chow, 周德高) and James Zhu’s (朱學淵) Khmer Rouge and Red China: My Untold Story, published by the Greenfield Bookstore in Hong Kong.

Chieu, who is six years older than me, did underground work for the CCP in Phnom Penh. He worked covertly within the Communist Party of Kampuchea, or Khmer Rouge, witnessing the vicious internal strife that took place within that party, but eventually he was abandoned by the CCP.

 

Chieu’s account of these events is presented in the book, which was arranged and written by Zhu, a US writer and older cousin of Taiwanese writer and translator Lucifer Chu (朱學恒).

It is no secret that the CCP has established party organizations overseas. Chinese consulates are in reality underground party committees and the same is true of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and its predecessor — the Hong Kong branch of Xinhua news agency.

These offices were, and still are, the CCP’s power centers in their localities, responsible for leading ethnic Chinese in implementing the CCP’s political directives.

For example, in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, crowds of Chinese protesters surrounded US broadcaster CNN’s offices in Los Angeles and other US cities. This would not have been possible without the unified leadership of Chinese consulates.

Wherever large numbers of Chinese hold demonstrations, there must be CCP subversion going on behind the scenes.

Why has the CCP now started openly organizing in the US? Apart from getting carried away by the idea of a “rising” China, of course it also feels emboldened by the impression that US President Donald Trump is inexperienced in Chinese affairs and perhaps it is also testing the US’ limits.

On Nov. 15, the US Congress’ US-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended in its annual report that all US-based staff of Chinese state-run media should be required to register as foreign agents because they might be supporting China’s intelligence-gathering and information warfare.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) dismissed this accusation as “sheer fiction,” but that cannot conceal the truth of the matter and we will no doubt have more to say about it as time goes by.

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

Translated by Julian Clegg

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