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The Chinese Communist Party tries to gobble up Forbes media

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 4/27/2022 Tom Rogan
Chairman of Bank of Communications Jiang Chaoliang, center, executive vice president Peng Chun, left, and president Li Jun, right, smile as they attended a news conference to announce the interim results in Hong Kong Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007. Bank of Communications Co., China's fifth-largest lender by assets, said Thursday its first-half net profit rose 42% from a year earlier on higher interest income and rapid growth in fee-based intermediary business. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) © Vincent Yu/ASSOCIATED PRESS Chairman of Bank of Communications Jiang Chaoliang, center, executive vice president Peng Chun, left, and president Li Jun, right, smile as they attended a news conference to announce the interim results in Hong Kong Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007. Bank of Communications Co., China's fifth-largest lender by assets, said Thursday its first-half net profit rose 42% from a year earlier on higher interest income and rapid growth in fee-based intermediary business. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Concerns are growing on Capitol Hill over an agreement that would see a company with links to the Chinese Communist Party take ownership of Forbes Global Media Holdings.

The sale price is a vast $630 million. In a letter on Sunday to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Rep. Michael Waltz asked whether the agreement had been scrutinized by the government's Committee on Foreign Investment. The question is necessary.

The purchase is to be conducted by a special-purpose acquisition company, Magnum Opus Acquisition Ltd. But as Waltz noted in his letter, SEC filings show that Peng Chun, chairman of the China Investment Corporation, personally signed paperwork providing Magnum with its March 2021 seed money. Two days later, Magnum began the process of buying Forbes. The involvement of Peng (pictured on the left in this article's header photo) is telling, as is Waltz's suggestion that the China Investment Corporation may have quietly sold its shares in Magnum at the end of 2021.

The China Investment Corporation is a direct extension of the CCP's power. The corporation's primary, overriding purpose is to further the party's aims. Peng's resume attests to as much. For 13 years at the start of his career, Peng worked in various roles in Xinjiang province. He has been a loyal CCP servant his whole career. Xinjiang, of course, has hosted a genocidal campaign to rid Chinese Uyghurs of their cultural identity and turn them into forced laborers.

Magnum's SEC filings do the legal minimum in outlining these concerns. On page four of an SEC filing made earlier this month, Magnum noted that Chinese "governmental authorities may seek to intervene or influence such companies' operations at any time that the government deems appropriate to further its regulatory, political and societal goals." The filing also identifies "the complex and evolving nature of [China's] legal system" as another potential risk.

This is an understatement. The CCP's purchase of a major and respected American media publication isn't a small concern. Magnum's careful language is the SEC equivalent of calling a nuclear weapon "somewhat dangerous."

We shouldn't miss the big point here. The CCP is explicit about the responsibility of Chinese citizens to serve the party's interests. President Xi Jinping has prioritized efforts to strengthen the party's control over the private sector. A September 2020 Central Committee guidance document for the United Front Work Department (which has a heavy focus on foreign influence) sought to "realize the Party's leadership over the private economy." The document "stressed efforts to strengthen political thinking-guidance of personnel in the private sector."

That takes us back to Magnum and Forbes.

China's intention seems pretty clear. The CCP wants to use a very thinly veiled corporate cutout to buy Forbes and then use it as a Western media platform to advance the party's interests. Considering that the party's central U.S. interest rests on the expansion of political, economic, and military space for Chinese global hegemony, let's hope Secretary Yellen heeds Waltz's concerns. After all, do we really want Peng using Forbes to educate us about the Uyghurs?

 

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Tags: Opinion, Beltway Confidential, Foreign Policy, National Security, China, Steve Forbes, Media, Communist Party, Free Speech, Opinion

Original Author: Tom Rogan

Original Location: The Chinese Communist Party tries to gobble up Forbes media

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