Biden’s Export-Import Bank Nominee Has Concerning Conflicts of Interest With Chinese Influence Organizations

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Former U.S. Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs Reta Jo Lewis speaks during a conference within the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Summit, in Mexico City, on November 19, 2010. Lewis, Joe Biden’s nominee for the Export-Import Bank of the United States, has concerning conflicts of interest with two Chinese influence organizations, the Greater Washington China Investment Center and the United States China Heartland Association.
Former U.S. Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs Reta Jo Lewis speaks during a conference within the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Summit, in Mexico City, on November 19, 2010. Lewis, Joe Biden’s nominee for the Export-Import Bank of the United States, has concerning conflicts of interest with two Chinese influence organizations, the Greater Washington China Investment Center and the United States China Heartland Association. (Image: LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden’s recently announced nominee for President and Chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States has direct connections to Chinese Communist Party influence groups that have been glossed over by both the White House and the media. 

On Sept. 13, Biden announced his nomination for 67-year-old Reta Jo Lewis, a black woman. In the nomination announcement posted on the White House website, Lewis’s “over 25 years of leadership experience in international affairs, legal, public policy, business and regulatory affairs, and subnational diplomacy” are lauded.

Lewis is praised for her position as a Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, where she leads the “Women of Color in Transatlantic Leadership Program,” in addition to her position as the first Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, serving under the Obama administration’s State Department run by Hillary Clinton.

The nomination also notes Lewis has an impressive resume in the Washington swamp as the first ever black woman to serve as Vice President and Counselor to the President at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, former Special Assistant for Political Affairs to former President Bill Clinton, and as a Life Member on the Council for Foreign Relations.

The Wall Street Journal described the Export-Import Bank as an agency that “supports U.S. exports through a range of programs, including guaranteeing loans to foreign buyers, credit insurance and some direct lending to foreign companies,” in a Sept. 13 article on Lewis’s nomination that also glossed over her conflicts of interest with Beijing.

What the White House’s nomination announcement keeps quiet, however, is that Lewis also serves as a Board Member for the Greater Washington China Investment Center influence organization, which describes itself as “a public-private partnership designed to help small to mid-sized Chinese companies seeking to go global with a guided entrance to the U.S. market.”

“Our goal is to provide the whole range of business support services that Chinese companies will need in order to succeed as they extend their activities beyond China into the U.S. Focusing on the Mid-Atlantic region, the GWCIC is dedicated to facilitating Chinese investment in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia that will lead to economic growth in the region and business success for Chinese investors,” says the GWCIC on the About Us portion of their website.

First reported by National Pulse on Sept. 15, the outlet found in an archived version of the 2014 GWCIC website’s Products and Services page that the Center also used “Access to U.S. industry and government databases” as a selling point.

In December of 2016, GWCIC President Bill Black utilized a blog post published on his Center’s website titled The Consequences of Being “Tough on China” to take aim at then-President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed China policies. In the post, Black called a broadcast by CCP mouthpiece CCTV criticizing Trump an “insightful report.”

Text of the blog post is short, but primarily links to a video published on the YouTube channel of CGTN, another Chinese state-affiliated broadcaster.

Another concerning connection between Lewis and China, also not mentioned in Biden’s nomination read out, is that of her position as Strategic Advisor to a second pro-Beijing influence organization, the United States China Heartland Association (USCHA).

On Sept. 10, National Pulse published research showing the USCHA, founded by former Democrat Governor of Missouri Bob Holden, is connected to the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), one of the CCP’s most prominent and extensive manifestations of the United Front Work Department, Beijing’s foremost tentacle for corrupting foreign government and business policy behind the scenes.

The CUSEF has been linked to influence campaigns targeting the biggest names in U.S. media, the Facebook Journalism Project, U.S. judges, justices, and even Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, a small California CBS affiliate, CIA Director William Burns, and Chairman of The Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission.

National Pulse says the USCHA has co-hosted events with another UFWD group, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).

In October of 2020, Secretary of State under the Trump administration Mike Pompeo, called the CPAFFC an entity that “sought to directly and malignly influence U.S. state and local leadership towards China’s foreign policy” through a “U.S-China Governors Forum to Promote Sub-National Cooperation” established in 2011.

Pompeo withdrew the U.S. from the Forum, saying the “CPAFFC’s actions have undermined the Governors Forum’s original well-intentioned purpose.”

Lewis attended the U.S.-China Governor’s Forum in 2011 and 2013 and was given press time by Communist Party state-media outlet Xinhua and the New York Chinese Consulate as a reward for her troubles.

After also attending the Forum In 2019, Lewis was paraphrased in an additional article by Xinhua as saying, “The ‘most important thing’ for subnational leaders is about the business of moving their state forward around jobs, moving their state forward around prosperity and making sure that each citizen has an opportunity to participate in the economy, and that’s the “motivation” for their relentless efforts in seeking cooperation with China.”

Lewis isn’t the only Biden administration official linked to the USCHA. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, former Governor of Iowa, headlined a USCHA event in May of 2020.

“With recent trade tensions and the impacts of COVID-19, the Heartland’s agriculture industry is facing many uncertainties and challenges. There is much to be gained between the collaboration of the US and China, the countries that are home to the two largest economies in the world. The continuance of successful U.S.-China trade should be of high concern to those in the Heartland region,” read the promotion for the event, which occurred in the heat of Trump’s pre-election trade war with the CCP.

The USCHA congratulated Vilsack on Twitter after he was confirmed for the role by the U.S. Senate in February.

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.