Cuomo’s Decision to Hire McKinsey to Handle New York Coronavirus Data Raises Concerns over Firm’s Chinese Communist Ties

ALBANY, NY - APRIL 17: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gives his a press briefing about the coronavirus crisis on April 17, 2020 in Albany, New York.Cuomo along with governors from other East Coast states are extending their shutdown of nonessential businesses to May 15. “We have to continue doing …
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McKinsey & Company, a corporate consulting service with a long history of working closely with the communist regime in China, is advising the New York state government response to the coronavirus crisis, per public reports and confirmation from the governor’s office.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has regularly name-checked the corporate consulting company at his press conferences detailing his state’s handling of the pandemic.

New York, including Cuomo himself, is actually using McKinsey data to compile modeling on the spread—infection rate—as well as the mortality rate of the virus in the state. Slides from Cuomo’s press conferences discussing the threat of coronavirus in New York actually cite McKinsey as the source of the modeling data the state government is using.

At this stage, it is unclear exactly what McKinsey is doing for New York state. Cuomo’s office has not returned multiple requests for comment from Breitbart News for this story. McKinsey also did not return a request for comment and did not answer a detailed set of questions set for this story.

A mid-April report in Reuters revealed McKinsey’s involvement in the New York state government coronavirus response.

“As part of Cuomo’s effort, McKinsey & Company is producing models on coronavirus testing, infections and other key data points that along with other research and expert opinions will help underpin decisions on how and when to reopen the region’s economy,” Reuters’ Jarrett Renshaw reported on April 15. “Dani Lever, communications director for Cuomo, said McKinsey has been primarily helping New York analyze the COVID-19 surge, such as hospital capacity and infection rates.”

Democrat governors nationwide have come under scrutiny for outside firms they have hired to handle data with regard to the coronavirus pandemic. In Michigan, for instance, Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration faced serious criticism for hiring Democrat Party political consultants to handle private medical information of coronavirus patients. Whitmer’s state government hired “Great Lakes Community Engagement,” a company with deep ties to Democrat political activists in the state, to handle contact tracing for people who may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

Contact tracing, public health officials unanimously agree, is a critical part of containing a pandemic—especially when the country reopens. Federal, state, and local officials nationwide are working to develop systems by which they can control a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak in the fall upon reopening the country’s economy—a system that deeply includes contact tracing. But Whitmer’s team’s decision to bring in Democrat-connected political activists, rather than public health specialists, backfired—and she was forced to cancel the contract, which was worth nearly $200,000 over just a few weeks.

This is why who Cuomo is hiring is even more interesting. Cuomo, a Democrat governor who has, despite some bumps along the way, mostly gotten along with President Donald Trump during this crisis, has actually criticized the Chinese government and raised concerns about the availability of key personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals, critical medications, and medical devices when it comes to the supply chain that the U.S. is currently dependent on China for—all.

In early April, Cuomo during a press briefing called it “the cruelest irony” that America is “now dependent on China” for key products.

“I don’t have a New York Defense Production Act,” Cuomo said. “The governor can’t say to a company, ‘We need you to manufacture this.’ It is the cruelest irony that this nation is now dependent on China for production of many of these products.”

But what’s particularly interesting about this revelation—that McKinsey has been involved with the American epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic when it comes to data and analytics regarding infection rates and hospital capacity—is the fact that Cuomo has been so badly incorrect when it comes to his initial projections regarding how the virus would impact New York. Back in late March, Cuomo’s projections led him to claim that New York was tens of thousands of ventilators short of what it would need to deal with the surge of coronavirus cases that he was expecting. Cuomo said on March 27, according to the National Review’s Rich Lowry, that the state would need 30,000 to 40,000 additional ventilators to treat the surge of coronavirus patients—but only had 12,000 in stock. A few weeks later, however, as of April 16, those ventilator projections proved to be dramatically wrong as Cuomo is now giving New York’s ventilators away to other states.

McKinsey recently came under intense scrutiny in the 2020 Democrat presidential primary contest as former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had previously worked for the firm early in his career. Buttigieg’s history with McKinsey was a major point of contention with his now former competitors before he dropped out of the race. McKinsey’s secretive nature drew scores of negative headlines for Buttigieg, who was forced to eventually release the list of clients he advised when he worked there.

But the firm has a deeper, darker, and even more sordid history of working with clients undermining the United States and empowering the communist regime in Beijing—making its involvement in the New York government’s response to the crisis even more questionable given the fact that the coronavirus plaguing the world right now originated in Wuhan, China.

The New York Times in 2018 published a lengthy and massive investigation into McKinsey’s deep ties to the Chinese communist government in Beijing, including how the consulting firm helped enable Beijing’s global expansion project known as the Belt and Road Initiative.

The piece opens setting a scene of the 2018 McKinsey corporate retreat in Kashgar, China, “the ancient Silk Road city in China’s far west that is experiencing a major humanitarian crisis.”

“About four miles from where the McKinsey consultants discussed their work, which includes advising some of China’s most important state-owned companies, a sprawling internment camp had sprung up to hold thousands of ethnic Uighurs — part of a vast archipelago of indoctrination camps where the Chinese government has locked up as many as one million people,” the Times’ Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe wrote. “One week before the McKinsey event, a United Nations committee had denounced the mass detentions and urged China to stop. But the political backdrop did not appear to bother the McKinsey consultants, who posted pictures on Instagram chronicling their Disney-like adventures. In fact, McKinsey’s involvement with the Chinese government goes much deeper than its odd choice to showcase its presence in the country.”

The Times reporters continue by noting that McKinsey has spent decades empowering the Chinese Communist Party’s economic surge to the world’s second largest economy, helping the foreign U.S. adversary compete against this country.

“For a quarter-century, the company has joined many American corporations in helping stoke China’s transition from an economic laggard to the world’s second-largest economy,” Bogdanich and Forsythe wrote. “But as China’s growth presents a muscular challenge to American dominance, Washington has become increasingly critical of some of Beijing’s signature policies, including the ones McKinsey has helped advance.”

McKinsey even helped a state-owned Chinese company that helped the communist regime build artificial islands in the South China Sea, which the Times reporters note is “a major point of military tension with the United States.”

“In China, it has advised at least 22 of the 100 biggest state-owned companies — the ones carrying out some of the government’s most strategic and divisive initiatives, according to a review of Chinese-language material by The Times,” Bogdanich and Forsythe continued. “While it is not unusual for American corporations to work with China’s state-owned companies, McKinsey’s role has sometimes put it in the middle of deeply troubled deals. In Malaysia, the company laid out the case for one of Asia’s most corrupt leaders to pursue billions of dollars from China at a time when he was suspected of funneling vast sums of public money into his own pocket, drawing tens of thousands into the streets to protest against him. McKinsey defends its work around the world, saying that it will not accept jobs at odds with the company’s values. It also gives the same reason that other companies cite for working in corrupt or authoritarian nations — that change is best achieved from the inside.”

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, the host of Tucker Carlson Tonight, on Wednesday evening dedicated an entire segment to exposing McKinsey’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party. “McKinsey is not embarrassed about any of this—just the opposite,” Carlson said. “In its current marketing materials, the company brags that 30 percent of its Chinese clients are state-owned enterprises.”

Carlson noted that Cuomo has hired McKinsey & Company to circumvent Trump and the White House when it comes to developing a plan to reopen New York’s economy.

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo has decided he does not trust the Trump administration to come up with a safe or sensible plan to reopen the economy of New York—and that’s of course his call. He’s the governor,” Carlson said Wednesday night.

“But Cuomo isn’t turning to his own health officials or his own economic advisers for counsel,” Carlson continued. “Instead, he’s hired a firm called McKinsey & Company to devise the plan forward. What is McKinsey & Company? Well, if you don’t know the answer, you’re probably not in private equity.”

Carlson noted that several top political figures like Buttigieg, Chelsea Clinton, and others, as well as corporate leaders like Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, have resumes that include experience at McKinsey & Company.

There are, interestingly, McKinsey connections to presumptive 2020 Democrat presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden as well. McKinsey’s deputy general counsel and head of public affairs since November 2019, according to her LinkedIn page, is Louisa Terrell. Her immediate prior position before that job with McKinsey was as executive director of the Biden Foundation—a position she held for more than two years.

The Biden Foundation, which Biden wound down as he entered the 2020 presidential campaign, served—according to the New York Times—as “a gathering place for Mr. Biden’s longtime allies and political advisers in advance of a likely presidential campaign.” They included Terrell, who is now at McKinsey, and Biden’s longtime former U.S. Senate Chief of Staff Ted Kaufman—who actually served out part of Biden’s term in the Senate when Biden was elected vice president alongside now former President Barack Obama.

“More than maybe any other company in America, McKinsey & Company serves as a training ground for the leaders of our professional class,” Carlson said. “McKinsey makes nothing. The only thing it sells is advice, usually at a very high price. The people who work there are called ‘consultants.’”

Carlson then posed the question why McKinsey’s role in advising Cuomo is “relevant” now in the middle of this pandemic.

“If you’re wondering why so many of our institutions in American life have been so utterly corrupted and undermined by the government of China, something that’s been revealed in stark relief recently, McKinsey & Company is a big part of the reason,” Carlson said. “For 30 years, McKinsey has played a leading role in encouraging American companies to ship their factories, their jobs, their expertise over to China. That seems like a normal practice now, but for most of the 20th century it was not. Globalism was not considered a business model.”

Carlson is not alone in raising these questions.

Michael Lind, a professor at LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin, wrote a lengthy article in Tablet Magazine last month that pins much of the blame for the coronavirus crisis on McKinsey in particular. The piece, headlined “The Coronavirus Didn’t Cause This Crisis by Itself. McKinsey Helped,” explains how the current pandemic and other crises like it “reveal the structural weaknesses in a society.”

“If we ignore our ritual partisan debates and try to be as objective as possible, I think we can agree that the pandemic has exposed two weaknesses in contemporary American society: the loss of critical manufacturing capabilities and the decline of the one-earner family,” Lind wrote. “The loss of manufacturing capacity means that the U.S. is forced to import from China and other countries essential products that it used to make inside its own borders: many drugs and their chemical precursors, large supplies of ventilators and safety masks, and so on. The decline of the one-earner family and its corollary, the breadwinner wage that could support it, magnifies the social crisis caused by the closure of public schools in the interest of reducing contagion.”

Lind questions who was responsible for both offshoring American industry and manufacturing to China, and for the societal structural changes to the American workforce. All of these changes, he argues, empower China by sending manufacturing and production of critical products like medicine and medical supplies and other national security priorities there instead of here in the United States.

“The answer in both cases is American business, aided by ideologues—libertarian ideologues in the case of offshoring, and so-called ‘corporate feminists’ in the case of family structure (as we shall see, the present dominant form of feminism is only one among several schools),” Lind wrote. “And in both cases the motivation of American business was the same—reducing the wages it had to pay to American workers.”

Lind continues by explaining how McKinsey led the charge in corporate America for the structural changes that sent American manufacturing overseas.

“‘Unbundling’ is the term popularized by McKinsey and other consulting firms and business theorists in the 1990s for the process of dismantling the pride of postwar American capitalism—vertically-integrated industrial behemoths like GM and IBM,” Lind wrote. “Vertical integration had been a mistake, the consultants claimed with the passion of evangelists. There was no need for massive industrial complexes in which iron and coke and petrochemicals went in at one end and a steel-and-plastic car or refrigerator came out at the other, with unionized, well-paid workers with generous benefits laboring on assembly lines in between. Businesses should focus on their ‘core competencies’ and try to replace production, finance and bookkeeping with arm’s-length contracts with external contractors.”

Pushing this sea change in corporations’ operational structure was a very profitable business for McKinsey as it has benefited from representing both Chinese-government-backed companies and the other side of major parts of the communists’ Belt and Road Initiative.

“Deep in the Malaysian jungle, a sprawling construction site sits abandoned, the relentless monsoon rain taking its toll on the rusting fields of steel girders,” the Times’ Bogdanich and Forsythe wrote in their 2018 piece. “It is supposed to be a railway — part of China’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, a $1 trillion global undertaking financed by big Chinese loans, and usually built by Chinese companies. Chief among them is the China Communications Construction Company, a state-owned behemoth whose initials are stenciled in black on the cement plant at the abandoned site. China Communications, which was barred for eight years from doing business on some World Bank projects because of a corruption scandal, played a leading role in building artificial islands in the South China Sea that have raised tensions with the United States. The company’s subsidiary also built a new port for Sri Lanka. But the debt turned out to be such a burden that the Sri Lankan government had to give up the port and hand it over for 99 years — to China.”

The reason why Malaysia suspended the project, according to its then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, was because the country feared the Chinese government would do the same thing to Malaysia as it did to Sri Lanka. “That is not good for us,” Mahathir said in September 2018 according to the Times report. “Malaysian workers have no jobs that they can do. All the work is hired from China. You can see how one-sided it is.”

For McKinsey, though, business was great. “But for McKinsey, it was anything but one-sided,” Bogdanich and Forsythe wrote. “The company represented both parties involved in the deal.”

Bogdanich and Forsythe continued by further explaining the unusual situation of McKinsey representing all sides of the arrangement:

In 2015, as China Communications was building the artificial islands and still under World Bank sanctions, McKinsey signed it on as a client, advising it on strategy.

Months later, McKinsey won another contract: this one with the Malaysian government, to review the feasibility of the rail line.

In a confidential PowerPoint report, McKinsey told Malaysian officials that the rail line could increase economic growth in parts of the country by as much as 1.5 percent. It was a figure that the prime minister at the time, Najib Razak, who now has been charged with corruption, liked to cite.

In bullet points, McKinsey also said the project would help improve ties with China — “build the nation-to-nation relationship” — because of its importance in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

And McKinsey endorsed the idea of heavy borrowing from China, referring to it as a “game changer” elsewhere in the region.

The Times piece further noted that “the highest levels” of McKinsey & Company have promoted the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative, demonstrating an “enthusiasm” for the communist regime’s global expansionist vision.

“Dominic Barton, McKinsey’s managing partner at the time, made Belt and Road the theme of a keynote address in Beijing in 2015, recounting the Silk Road trade from the second century B.C. onward,” Bogdanich and Forsythe wrote. “McKinsey’s in-house research group, the McKinsey Global Institute, sprang into action, producing reports — widely cited in the Chinese state news media — extolling the benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative. Mr. Barton — who has served on the advisory board of China Development Bank, one of the two biggest Chinese lenders to the Belt and Road Initiative — also batted down concerns in a 2015 interview with Chinese state media that the undertaking might be used as a tool to expand China’s global influence.”

The next two paragraphs detailed just how intricately tied together McKinsey was with the Chinese Community Party’s grand global vision, in that nearly half of the contractors used for the initiative have a business relationship or history with McKinsey:

“The world is waiting for the ‘One Belt, One Road’ grand blueprint to move from dream to reality,” Mr. Barton and his colleagues wrote in a report published on the company’s Chinese website in May 2015, expressing McKinsey’s enthusiasm to work on it.

The feeling was mutual. Nine of the top 20 Belt-and-Road contractors are or have been McKinsey clients, according to research by The Times and figures from RWR Advisory Group, which tracks such projects.

For its part, McKinsey formally disagreed with the Times’ characterization of its closeness with the Chinese communists’ Belt and Road Initiative. In a lengthy statement issued on its website after the Times published its story in December 2018, the consulting firm claims that its work is not advancing the agenda of the communist regime in Beijing.

“Broad swaths of the Times’ narrative are at fundamental odds with how our firm works, such as the article’s insinuation that we have somehow orchestrated our work across multiple clients to support China’s Belt-and-Road initiative,” McKinsey said in the statement. “To portray us as working behind the scenes to advance any government’s agenda – across independent client teams and projects – is simply untrue. We also dispute the inference that our client service on individual projects related to China’s Belt-and-Road initiative is somehow inappropriate. Each engagement was conducted and evaluated on its merits and not in any way as part of a coordinated effort to advance the initiative.”

But the firm’s website is also littered with example after example of its top officials and executives promoting China’s Belt and Road Initiative as, among other things, “one of the biggest stories in Asian business” that could “reshape global trade.”

A podcast transcript published on McKinsey’s website in 2016 quotes the firm’s then-Asia chairman and now global managing partner Kevin Sneader praising the Belt and Road Initiative as something that “has the potential to be perhaps the world’s largest platform for regional collaboration.”

“There are two parts to this, the belt and the road, and it’s a little confusing,” Sneader explained, detailing the Chinese regime’s goals. “The belt is the physical road, which takes one from here all the way through Europe to somewhere up north in Scandinavia. That is the physical road. What they call the road is actually the maritime Silk Road, in other words, shipping lanes, essentially from here to Venice. Therefore it’s very ambitious—potentially ambitious—covering about 65 percent of the world’s population, about one-third of the world’s GDP, and about a quarter of all the goods and services the world moves. That is what’s at the core of this—at least a potential trading route. The belt, the physical road, and the maritime Silk Road would re-create the shipping routes that made China one of the world’s foremost powers many, many years ago.”

Sneader continued later in the podcast by comparing the Belt and Road Initiative—which was previously called “One Belt, One Road,” a name the Chinese ditched when it came under scrutiny—to the Marshall Plan after World War II. The Marshall Plan was when the U.S. provided aid to Europe after the war, helping rebuild the war torn continent. But Sneader said that the Chinese government’s influence expansion plans were 12 times bigger than the Marshall Plan.

“Some people have talked about this being the second Marshall Plan,” Sneader said in that July 2016 podcast of the Belt and Road Initiative. “It’s worth recalling that the Marshall Plan, which obviously was at the heart of the regeneration of Europe after the Second World War, was one-twelfth the size of what is being contemplated in the One Belt, One Road initiative.”

Carlson’s Wednesday night segment on McKinsey further delved into senior McKinsey executives—including Barton—and their roles in promoting the Chinese communist regime in Beijing.

“From 2009 to 2018, McKinsey’s managing director was a man called Dominic Barton,” Carlson said. “At the same time as he was managing McKinsey, Barton also served on the advisory board of the China Development Bank. The China Development bank is a massive, Communist Party-controlled enterprise that finances the One Belt, One Road Initiative. You may have heard of that—it’s China’s bid to dominate international commerce through massive infrastructure projects. Barton is now Canada’s ambassador to China.”

That’s not all, though—one of McKinsey’s most senior officials, senior partner emeritus Peter Walker, actually gave an interview to Chinese communist government-run media, where he praised the repressive government:

The propaganda piece from the communist regime’s state-run media notes that Walker spent much of the past 15 years during his time at McKinsey in China, making more than 80 trips around the globe to communist country. In it, Walker is quoted as praising the government—which is notoriously oppressive and has more than a million Muslims currently in camps, as well no freedom of speech or of religious—as somehow wanting to help people.

“What I discovered was that the people were happy, they were proud, they were energized,” Walker said in the state-run media piece, published in November of 2019 just last year. “The government officials I met genuinely wanted to do the right thing for the people on a long-term basis.”

Walker appeared on Carlson’s show on Thursday night as a follow-up to the Wednesday evening segment on McKinsey to attempt to defend himself and his now former firm. The interview, a brutal 15 minutes, includes moments where Walker defends China putting Muslims in camps and praises the Chinese government’s handling of the response to the coronavirus crisis in Wuhan:

Despite Walker’s praise, the Chinese government’s mishandling of the crisis included providing inaccurate information regarding the spread of the disease to the World Health Organization (WHO)—which WHO reprinted on its various social media accounts—claiming falsely that the coronavirus does not spread from person to person. What’s more, in a classified report to the White House revealed by Bloomberg the U.S. intelligence community determined that “China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease.”

“The officials asked not to be identified because the report is secret, and they declined to detail its contents,” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs and Nick Wadhams wrote on Wednesday. “But the thrust, they said, is that China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete. Two of the officials said the report concludes that China’s numbers are fake. The report was received by the White House last week, one of the officials said.”

Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have made clear that the Chinese were not forthcoming with key information about the virus. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, has also made the point that China’s misinformation about the disease originally misled the world’s medical community, hampering the U.S. response to this in the early days and weeks. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has similarly been particularly tough with regard to China.

All of this is why it is particularly curious why New York state government would work with McKinsey in responding to the coronavirus crisis, even with most of this information about the firm’s deep ties to the regime in Beijing publicly available.

GOP sources on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have been even more critical of China than even the White House and administration have been, were befuddled as to why a firm so close to the Chinese government is somehow involved in the American response to the coronavirus crisis at all.

“McKinsey’s involvement is troubling given its ties to Chinese state run companies,” one senior senate GOP aide told Breitbart News. “At best there is an appearance of divided loyalties—at worst there are substantial conflicts of interest. You can’t do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party by day and throw on your team America gear at night. This is like letting the fox guard the hen house.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), one of the foremost experts in the GOP conferences on either side of Capitol Hill when it comes to China, added in a statement that the United States needs to seriously rethink its supply chains and become independent of China again. Banks says it is time to cut ties with Chinese Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and bring American jobs home to our shores.

“Not just destroying lives, coronavirus has revealed to us the United States’ startling dependence on China for lifesaving medical supplies like antibiotics and personal protective equipment,” Banks said in an emailed statement. “The Chinese Communist Party has threatened to cut off American access to these vital drugs and ‘plunge us into the mighty sea of the coronavirus.’ How did we get here? We’ve allowed ourselves to become reliant on Chinese OEMs, effectively shipping American jobs overseas in exchange for cheaper labor. That has put us in a desperate situation—but the United States should never be in desperate situations. After this is over, we need to reassess the decisions that led us to our dependence on the Chinese Communist Party.”

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