Yes, a Pro-China Group in America Supports a Black Lives Matter Founder

COMMENTARY Progressivism

Yes, a Pro-China Group in America Supports a Black Lives Matter Founder

Oct 21st, 2020 10 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Mike Gonzalez

Senior Fellow, Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Fellow

Mike Gonzalez is a senior fellow in Heritage's Allison Center for Foreign Policy and the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum fellow.
Passersby watch TV screens at a department store showing Chinese President Xi Jinping as he makes a speech in Shenzhen. SOPA Images / Contributor / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

This support for the Chinese Communist Party and its causes was not a matter solely of 20th-century politics.

Confucius Institutes burrow deeply within universities and schools to show American students a sympathetic view of China that is detached from reality.

The Chinese Progressive Associations are knitted tightly with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and other groups that Black Lives Matter founders have led.

The Daily Signal last month revealed links between the Black Lives Matter organizations and the Chinese Progressive Association of San Francisco.

My piece went viral—and for good reason. It broke news that the liberal-dominated media would prefer to ignore.

A writer for the online publication Axios now has launched an attack on my work. I will leave aside the condescending tenor of Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian’s blog post and her subsequent unprofessional tweets. Instead, I will refute her main points.

The Daily Signal’s reporting is important because the Chinese Progressive Association of San Francisco is the financial sponsor of two ventures associated with Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza: the Black Futures Lab and the Black to the Future Action Fund.

More importantly, the Chinese Progressive Association of San Francisco trains activists and helped mobilize Chinese Americans for the violent protests we saw this year as well as in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. So did like-named organizations in New York and Boston, run independently but set up by the same Maoist Marxists.

Now, to the three points in the Axios “fact check.”

No. 1: The Chinese Progressive Association of San Francisco “has no apparent ties to the CCP,” meaning the Chinese Communist Party.

No. 2: “China no longer supports grassroots leftist movements abroad.”

No. 3: “China doesn’t seem to get Black Lives Matter.”

As for No. 1, the Chinese Progressive Association was founded in San Francisco in 1972 by operatives of the Maoist militant group I Wor Kuen, which supported the Chinese Communist Party.

From the start, CPA-San Francisco was doing pro-China work. As one of its founders, Fay Wong, explained: “China was an inspiration to us, many of us were from China and those us who were not just found what China was able to accomplish, with the revolution, was very inspiring.”

A few years later, I Wor Kuen also set up groups called the Chinese Progressive Association in Boston and New York.

These CPAs are registered separately and apparently run autonomously, but interact with each other in a host of other hard-left outfits such as Seeding ChangeRight to the City, and LeftRoots. The three CPAs also collaborated in publications of the League for Revolutionary Struggle, a Marxist-Leninist organization that I Wor Kuen created by uniting with other communist groups from 1978 to 1990.

This support for the Chinese Communist Party and its causes was not a matter solely of 20th-century politics.

When he was executive director of CPA-San Francisco in 2012, Alex Tom (a longtime friend of Garza, the Black Lives Matter co-founder) started the China Education and Exposure Program to deepen ties between American leftists and China. “We built relationships with people in the [Communist] Party,” Tom said on the May 26 episode of “The Red Nation” podcast.

The CPA in Boston, meanwhile, has worked officially with the Chinese Consulate in New York.

Tom is not alone. Another senior official at the CPA-San Francisco worked to further the aims of Hanban, the Chinese government entity that runs the insidious Confucius Institutes in the U.S., Australia, and other Western countries.

Confucius Institutes burrow deeply within universities and schools to show American students a sympathetic view of China that is detached from reality. They also try to censor what the host university can discuss regarding China.

Hanban describes itself as “a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.” In fact, it reports directly to political apparatchiks in China’s Politburo, not to educators in the Education Ministry (who are, as likely as not, members of the Chinese Communist Party in any case).

Three Republican senators—Marco Rubio of Florida, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Rob Portman of Ohio—have reintroduced the Foreign Intelligence Transparency Act to “close loopholes in current law that allow the Chinse Communist Party to infiltrate our colleges and universities through Confucius Institutes.”  

In 2006, just two years after Hanban created Confucius Institutes and just as it was trying to seed them around the country, Eric Mar, then a board member of CPA-San Francisco and one of its longest-serving leaders, said he had just returned from a trip to China, where he met with Hanban.

Hanban apparently funded the trip. Mar said he worked with the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco to prepare for it. He said such trips made him understand better the aims of China’s leaders through Hanban, which he supported.

Mar wrote in his blog in 2006:

In retrospect, I am understanding better now that I am back how our trip, and others funded by HANBAN, fits into China President Hu [Jintao]’s 6 goals for stronger US/China cooperation laid out in his April 21 speech to Yale University.

Mar sympathetically paraphrases Hu as saying: “China takes human rights seriously. … The country respects and upholds human rights and this has been written into China’s Constitution. China will keep advancing human rights in the course of its social development.”

In fact, China is one of the world’s worst human rights violators, despite the efforts of its communist government, especially through Hanban, to make Americans think otherwise.

Mar’s 2006 trip to China came just four years before Garza teamed up with CPA-San Francisco to work on a report about working conditions in restaurants in the city’s Chinatown. In 2012, Garza was a member of the host committee for the Chinese Progressive Association’s 40th anniversary.

After his election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mar was able to elevate these initial contacts with Hanban and its pernicious Confucius Institutes, which he first made while at CPA-San Francisco, to continue to support their work in America, as he did in a Chinese Consulate event in 2014.

The trips to China are in fact an important part of the relationship between the CPAs and the People’s Republic of China, and we have Eric Mar’s own twin brother, Gordon Mar, as the source for that.

A longtime CPA-San Francisco operative, Gordon Mar instructed the writer of a comprehensive Stanford University paper, Kaori Tsukada, to look into the trips to China by association members to better understand the nexus between the Chinese Progressive Association and the People’s Republic of China. Tsukada wrote in the 2009 paper:

Gordon Mar suggested that I look into the history of the relationship between China and CPA; although there were no monetary interactions, CPA members were invited to visit the People’s Republic of China a number of times, as an opportunity to visit their ancestors’ homes and to see socialism in action.

The Chinese Progressive Association of San Francisco went to bat for China again this past May. Along with the Boston group and others, the San Francisco organization signed a letter backing Joe Biden.

In the letter, however, it warned the Biden campaign not to engage in “China-bashing” in the context of COVID-19, adding that “fanning anti-China sentiment will also come at a cost at the ballot box.”

I will leave it to the reader to figure out whether Axios’ fact-checker is right that the Chinese Progressive Association has no ties to the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party runs China. Hanban reports to the CCP’s Politburo.

As for point No. 2: The Axios fact-checker says that “China no longer supports grassroots leftist movements abroad.”

Somebody should tell that to the editors of China’s Global Times, an English-language newspaper run by the CCP’s official organ, People’s Daily.

Until then, Global Times, just like other Chinese Communist Party organs, will continue to run stories supporting Black Lives Matter in this country, such as this one, this one, and this one.

A typical line from these stories: “By now, the waves from the anti-police brutality protests in the U.S. have reached every corner of American society.”

Or this one, from another story: “Under the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter,’ the protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd have swept across many regions worldwide. Globally, people are calling for an end to widespread police brutality against black people.”

And Global Times is not alone.

Indeed, China expert Gordon Chang—who has been analyzing China for decades—reached the opposite conclusion than the Axios writer.

Chang said in a television interview in July: “What is confirmed is that the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Communist Party’s global ties have been engaged in a malicious disinformation campaign, deliberately stoking racial tensions in the U.S.”

“And, U.S. Customs has seized items coming from China this year that would be very handy for protesters,” Chang said.

In June, Chang wrote in Newsweek: “Beijing, in short, has been trying to surreptitiously exacerbate social divisions and racial tensions, something that it did in the open in Canada in January of last year when its then-ambassador, Lu Shaye, tried to mobilize those of Chinese origin against ‘white supremacy.’”

The writer Trevor Loudon, a veteran watcher of  I Wor Kuen’s creations in America, also reached the opposite conclusion, and says the links between China and the riots here are in fact direct.

As for the Axios fact-checker’s point No. 3, that the Chinese Communist Party does “not seem to get Black Lives Matter,” that’s a rather subjective view with which it is difficult to engage.

More important is that the Chinese Progressive Associations get Black Lives Matter. Not four days after Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis, the CPAs in San Francisco, Boston, and New York were among the signatories of a call for support for Black Lives Matter, warning Chinese Americans to reject “assimilation into whiteness.”

“In this painful moment, we ask our Asian communities to choose our shared liberation,” the letter said. “Let us also commit to the ongoing work of addressing the anti-Blackness in our own communities and choose to fight for Black lives the way we would our own.”

In December 2014, after a  grand jury declined to indict a Ferguson police officer in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown (an event that led to daily protests), Black Lives Matter co-founders Garza and Patrisse Cullors participated in a “national call” with Seeding Change, a far-left group created by CPA-San Francisco in which CPA-Boston also is a member.

Afterward, Seeding Change posted messages calling for solidarity with Black Lives Matter, writing: “From San Francisco/Bay Area, Los Angeles to Madison, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Providence and DC, Asian Americans have been showing up and busting up the ‘model minority,’ which is used to maintain white supremacy, anti-blackness and capitalism.”

Under a banner reading “SHOW UP and TAKE ACTION,” the statement urged Asian Americans to submit to Black Lives Matter’s orders: “It is important for Asian American communities to show up for Black Lives and take the lead from Black communities.”

I already have described the activities of CPA-San Francisco with regard to China and its communist government. It is important to note here, too, as I did in this essay, that CPA-Boston officially teamed up with the Chinese government.

So, to make this clear, organizations that either have done work in support of the People’s Republic of China or officially partnered with that communist nation also participated in mobilizing protests and riots that brought the United States to the brink of deep civil unrest.

The Chinese Progressive Associations also are knitted tightly with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and other groups that Black Lives Matter founders have led.

Michelle Foy, director of finance at CPA-San Francisco, is also a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and is on the board of the Bay Area social justice organization Just Cause/Justa Causa. Other leaders of CPA-San Francisco and CPA-Boston are “cadre” of the FRSO front group LeftRoots.

The Freedom Road Socialist Organization is one of the four largest communist groups in America, according to those who have studied the matter.

This includes James Simpson, a budget analyst and economist at the White House Office of Management and Budget from 1987 to 1993. In January 2016, Simpson wrote: “FRSO is a hereditary descendant of the New Communist Movement, which was inspired by Mao and the many communist revolutions throughout the world in the 1960s and 1970s.”

The Freedom Road Socialist Organization wasn’t  inspired only by Mao Zedong’s victory in 1949, but by the Cultural Revolution of 1966-67 (a period of great chaos and suffering in China that has eerie parallels to our current moment) and by the crushing of China’s student movement on Tiananmen Square in 1989, which FRSO calls a “counterrevolution.”

To this day, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization continues to support the government of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who also is secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party.

So to say that the Chinese Progressive Associations in the U.S. have abandoned their affinity for Marxism and Maoism is obviously absurd.

Does none of this interest Axios or others in the media?

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal