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The Beijing Pilgrimage

James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

President Clinton recently received support for his controversial Chinese vacation from an unusual and inauspicious source - the official government tabloid of China known as The People's Daily. Not surprisingly, The People's Daily neglected to mention directly any of the China-related scandals that are in various stages of investigation in the United States.

The President has been roundly criticized by various members of the press, punditry and Congress for this peculiarly planned junket. The excursion was originally scheduled to take place later in the year but was moved up for unknown reasons.

The timing of the China trip has justifiably been called into question due to the scandal surplus that currently affects Sino-American relations. Congress is looking into whether President Clinton's decision to allow Loral Space & Communications to launch a satellite on a Chinese rocket was unduly influenced by campaign donations given by Loral's chairman. Allegations have also surfaced that a top Chinese aerospace executive, whose father was Beijing's top military official, illegally funneled money to the Democratic Party in 1996.

The latest revelation comes from former F.O.B., Johnny Chung. Chung has told Justice Department investigators that top Democratic National Committee officials solicited and accepted improper donations from him with knowledge. And Mr. Chung is naming names.

Richard Sullivan was serving as the finance director for the Democratic National Committee in1995. Chung had offered to make a $50,000 contribution to the DNC if he could bring five Chinese businessmen to a presidential radio address in March. In congressional testimony last summer, Sullivan said he had grown suspicious of Chung, and he concluded that the money Chung was offering to contribute was not his own but instead came from Chinese business executives.

According to Chung, however, Sullivan contacted him less than a month later and solicited $125,000 for an April 8, 1995 fund-raiser. Sullivan accepted the money although he has denied to investigators that he asked Chung for the donation.

The Democrats and the compliant press ridiculed the idea that China would attempt to use cash to influence U.S. elections. When evidence of the Chinese origins of Democratic contributions came to light, the Democrats indignantly pointed to the lack of substantiation that their officials had any knowledge of the illegal nature of these foreign contributions. The new acknowledgements by Johnny Chung constitute a first step that could lead to criminality at the upper levels of the DNC and the Clinton-Gore campaign.

Chung has also told Justice Department investigators that DNC and Clinton-Gore officials were aware that he was bringing foreign guests to a Los Angeles fund-raising dinner in 1995 when he arrived with 20 people.

It seems that Chung showed up with a check for $20,000, which was rejected because of the $1,000 per person limit. The following day Chung arranged for 20 friends and employees to write individual checks in the amount of $1,000, which were accepted by the campaign. Chung later reimbursed the check writers and claims that it was understood that he was producing illegal contributions on behalf of foreign nationals.

Now President Clinton not only insists on visiting China, the primary focal point of the current controversies, but he plans to attend a welcoming ceremony at the edge of Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Not a single U.S. president has been to Beijing since the appalling mass slaughter of pro-democracy demonstrators occurred at that ignominious site in1989.

Many analysts are questioning the continued intransigence of the President's refusal to alter or cancel this scheduled appointment in Tiananmen Square. From a political perspective, this unseemly visit has potentially grave risks. And so we are left to ponder why President Clinton would be so resolute about this particular journey.

Well, it is possible that he is simply fulfilling a promise that he made to the Chinese. Then again he does not have a stellar track record when it comes to keeping promises. Or it could have a little something to do with the scores of witnesses who are now firmly under China's control, witnesses who could potentially corroborate Johnny Chung's statements or perhaps add even more damaging testimony to the already tarnished images of the DNC and the Clinton-Gore Campaign.

With musings of this type, we must hope and pray that such possibilities regarding our elected officials will ultimately be proven wrong. If not, we may soon find ourselves living in what amounts to a province of a foreign government while listening to our marionette leaders rationalize about policy that was bought and paid for by those holding the strings.

Copyright © 1999 -
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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