A high-profile U.S. senator with professional and personal ties to China — including once employing one of its spies — is backing former Vice President Joe Biden amid mounting questions over his son’s business dealings with the communist regime.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a former chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced her endorsement of the former vice president on Tuesday, claiming to have witnessed Biden’s “fortitude” and leadership during their overlapping tenures in Congress.
Feinstein said in a statement:
I’ve worked closely with Vice President Biden and I’ve seen firsthand his legislative ability, his statesmanship, and most importantly his moral fortitud. During his time in Congress and in the White House, Joe Biden has been a tireless fighter for hard working American families.
The endorsement comes as Biden’s presidential campaign is besieged by scandal regarding the lucrative business dealings his youngest son, Hunter, had with foreign governments.
Only hours before Feinstein’s endorsement, the Chinese government announced it would not investigate how Hunter Biden ended up at the center of one its top private equity firms. The Chinese foreign ministry made the decision after President Donald Trump publicly called for a probe of Hunter Biden’s dealings with Bohai Harvest RST (BHR). In particular, Trump has noted that the circumstances surrounding BHR’s creation could have posed a conflict of interest for Joe Biden.
As Peter Schweizer, senior contributor at Breitbart News, revealed in his bestselling book Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, Hunter Biden inked the multibillion-dollar deal that created BHR with a subsidiary of the state-owned Bank of China in 2013.
The timing of the lucrative deal has been brought into question as it came only 12 days after Hunter visited China with his father aboard Air Force Two. Officially, the then-vice president was visiting the country amid escalating tensions over islands in the South China Sea and decided to bring his granddaughter and son along. In a March 2018 interview with Breitbart News Tonight, however, Schweizer detailed the political machinations that preceded Hunter Biden’s $1.5 billion venture with China:
In December of 2013, Vice President Joe Biden flies to Asia for a trip, and the centerpiece for that trip is a visit to Beijing, China. To put this into context, in 2013, the Chinese have just exerted air rights over the South Pacific, the South China Sea. They basically have said, ‘If you want to fly in this area, you have to get Chinese approval. We are claiming sovereignty over this territory.’ Highly controversial in Japan, in the Philippines, and in other countries. Joe Biden is supposed to be going there to confront the Chinese. Well, he gets widely criticized on that trip for going soft on China. For basically not challenging them, and Japan and other countries are quite upset about this.
Since its creation, BHR has invested heavily in energy and defense projects across the globe. As of June, Hunter Biden was still involved with BHR, sitting on its board of directors and owning a minority stake of the fund estimated to be worth more than $430,000.
Such dealings at the center of politics and business, while perhaps not illegal, are not exclusive to the Biden family alone. As a few noted at the time of Feinstein’s endorsement, the senator and her husband have their own close ties to the communist country.
During her tenure as mayor of San Francisco in the late-1970s and early-1980s, Feinstein took advantage of the newly normalized diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China by establishing one of the first sister city partnership between San Francisco and Shanghai. Through that partnership, Feinstein led trade delegations to China in which she and her husband, Richard Blum, became acquainted with some of the country’s most prominent political leaders.
As the Federalist noted in August 2018, Feinstein and her husband leveraged those relationships to boost their own wealth. In 1986, Feinstein and Jiang Zemin — the then-mayor of Shanghai, who would later ascend to the presidency of the People’s Republic of China — “designated several corporate entities for fostering commercial relations.” One of those firms was Shanghai Pacific Partners, which employed Blum as a director. Blum reportedly had an interest of upwards of $500,000 in a project backed by Shanghai Pacific Partners.
After Feinstein was elected to the Senate in 1992, Blum continued profiting off their ties to China. A the same time, the freshman lawmaker was pitching herself as a “China hand” to colleagues, even once claiming “that in my last life maybe I was Chinese.” Through her seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Feinstein led the fight on a number of initiatives seen as being favorable to China, including granting the country permanent most-favored-nation trading status in 2000.
Despite Feinstein and her husband having a close relationship with Jiang, the Chinese government targeted the senator as part of its espionage operations. In the early 2000s, the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) recruited a longtime employee of the senator to gather information about the inner workings of her congressional and district offices. Feinstein only learned of the staffer’s duplicity in 2013, after he’d already been on her payroll for more than 20 years.
“While this person, who was a liaison to the local Chinese community, was fired, charges were never filed against him,” Politico reported in 2018, speculating that because “the staffer was providing political intelligence and not classified information—making prosecution far more difficult.”
Apart from the convoluted history of the senator’s ties to China, the political timing of Feinstein’s endorsement also caught many off guard. The California Democrat, who hosted a fundraiser on Biden’s behalf last week alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) daughter, is only the most recent figure from the Democrat establishment to openly pledge support for the former vice president. Feinstein’s endorsement, however, was not totally expected, especially since her seamate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), is mounting a bid of her own for the Democrat nomination. In fact, earlier this year, Feinsten flirted with the notion of remaining neutral in the 2020 contest out of respect for Harris.
Compounding the political picture is that most polls show Biden no longer the favorite to win California, having fallen behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Feinstein, however, did not address any of that when endorsing the former vice president on Tuesday. Instead, the senator offered platitudes about Biden’s work to enhance gun control and how his campaign was a “fight to restore the soul of the nation.”