Georgia Democrat Senate candidate Jon Ossoff tweeted that his followers should follow China’s state-run news outlet in 2012, after working as a national security aide to Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).
On November 7, 2012, Ossoff said, referring to the annual gathering of Chinese Communist Party delegates, “Esp. during 18th Party Congress, #follow @XHNews (Xinhua – Chinese state media). #ff.”
The hashtag “#ff” in social media lexicon has been used to flag other Twitter accounts the tweet author thinks should be followed.
It was at the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party that Xi Jinping — now China’s president — was elected as general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
Esp. during 18th Party Congress, #follow @XHNews (Xinhua – Chinese state media). #ff
— Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) November 8, 2012
Ossoff’s tweet, first reported by the Washington Free Beacon, came about three months after he left working as a staffer for Johnson.
According to Politifact, Ossoff received a top-secret security clearance in March 2012 and staffed Johnson for all work related to the National Defense Authorization Act before leaving in mid-August 2012.
Both Republican and Democrat U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern about Xinhua News Agency’s operations in the United States.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a Navy reservist and China hawk, in a January 2020 letter to then-Attorney General William Barr wrote that it was “extremely troubling” that the agency had not yet registered as a foreign agent, as reported by Axios.
Axios noted that Xinhua operates bureaus in major cities across the U.S. and that the bipartisan U.S.-China Security and Economic Review Commission’s 2017 report stated “Xinhua serves some functions of an intelligence agency by gathering information and producing classified reports for the Chinese government.”
“Xinhua and the Chinese Communist Party have deep, longstanding ties,” Banks said in the letter. “There have been no reports that the Xinhua News Agency has filed as a foreign agent.”
Ossoff has tried to defend against his film production company Insight TWI receiving payments from PCCW, a Chinese media company partly owned by the Chinese state-owned Unicom and a pro-Beijing businessman in Hong Kong.
Ossoff did not include the payments when he first filed candidate financial disclosures in May, but then quietly included them two months later, after the Georgia Senate primary. His campaign has called the omission of the payments from PCCW a “paperwork oversight.”
The Washington Free Beacon also reported that Ossoff’s wealthy father, who has “bankrolled” his son’s political career, met with Chinese “dignitaries” after purchasing a 60-foot yacht from a China-based shipbuilder tied to Communist Party officials.
Incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who Ossoff is challenging in Georgia’s January 5 run-off election, said Monday during an interview with Hugh Hewitt the payment issue showed “bad judgment” and made him a target for China.
“This shows bad judgment, and it’s a real dangerous thing on the back of the Swalwell scandal and also the Hunter Biden scandal. It shows what China’s doing: they’re finding these young impressionable liberals and they’re developing strong relationships,” Perdue said.
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