[Beijing, China - May 9, 2018]
On May 7, an article published online in Foreign Policy referred to an incident concerning the recent US trip of CCG President Dr. Huiyao Wang, which included an invitation to the Wilson Center. The article mentions that a US senator questioned the Wilson Center about Dr. Wang’s ties to China’s United Front Work Department (UFWD).
The article portrays Dr. Wang’s role as the vice chairman of the Western Returned Scholars Association (WRSA), a 105-year old civil society organization under the UFWD’s jurisdiction, as evidence of the Chinese government’s influence abroad. We believe this is a misrepresentation of Dr.Wang’s work. Furthermore, given current US-China trade tensions, these claims could potentially disrupt bridge-building work being carried out by both Chinese and American experts.
CCG believes that the article does not accurately reflect how nonprofits work in China. Under current laws and regulations, all Chinese civil society organizations are required to be registered by various levels of the Chinese government. The Western Returned Scholars Association (WRSA) and the China Overseas Friendship Association (COFA) are both member-based organizations under the registrations of the United Front Work Department, just like all universities in China are under the supervision of Ministry of Education of the Chinese government. In the U.S. all non profit organizations are required to register with the U.S. Treasury Department, in particular the Internal Revenue Service, that does not mean that all U.S. non profit organizations are a member of the U.S. Treasury, nor are they representing the U.S. government.
The organizational structures and activities of the WRSA and COFA are disclosed on their respective websites and other public information platforms and news all the time. Dr. Wang’s social posts at these two nonprofit organizations are just part of many social organizations he is doing volunteer work, and have always been included in his biography on the website. This information can be easily found on the Internet through search engines. He has not been on the payroll of any state apparatus. No WRSA member or person familiar with WRSA or similar Chinese nonprofits would characterize Dr. Wang’s civil work as being done by someone employed by the UFWD.
To clarify CCG’s status, our think tank was founded in 2008 and is financed primarily by research grants and donations by private and corporate donors, which are annually disclosed to the CCG annual meeting. CCG is an independent think tank that has no affiliation with any government organizations or WRSA or COFA. CCG has public records and our partners at home and abroad can testify that CCG bears no fiscal support of government funding. For the last three years, CCG has been continuously ranked as a top independent think tank in China and one of the top 100 think tanks worldwide in 2017 by the well-known Think Tank and Civil Society Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
CCG is known for its expertise and advocacy to strengthen US-China economic relations. Dr. Wang is well respected in the U.S. intellectual community for his scholarship and insights, and his views have been particularly sought after amid the current context of US-China trade frictions. He has traveled to the US for academic exchanges. Upon invitation, Dr. Wang’s activities during this trip included speaking at the Committee of 100 annual conference in Santa Clara, presenting at a luncheon hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, and participating in a two-day conference organized by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to celebrate forty years of US-China relations.
Regarding the event mentioned in the recent Foreign Policy article, Dr. Wang did receive an invitation from the Wilson Center to speak on a panel that was to broadly include discussion of Chinese influence. However, he was not subsequently consulted on the program details and never gave final consent that he would participate. As with all Dr. Wang’s engagements in the US, his bio was widely distributed and readily available online. There is no issue to be had regarding the disclosure of his background or the organizations to which he is affiliated.
CCG believes that the article uses misleading information and draws on biased preconceptions in misrepresenting Dr.Wang’s work for Chinese civil society organizations and an independent think tank. We regret that this article may create confusion and misunderstandings about the contributions CCG is making to improve Sino-US relations.
Moving forward, CCG will continue its efforts to play a constructive role in fostering US-China cooperation and China’s globalization process, a role that we believe is beneficial for both countries and also the rest of the world. We sincerely hope that this line of media coverage will not divert public attention away from the real challenges facing the Sino-US relationship or dampen the positive collegial spirit among the community of experts working in both countries to overcome these challenges.
Center for China and Globalization(CCG)