A total of 20 former and current elected Republicans are named in Peter Schweizer’s new bestseller Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win as having business dealings and political ties to the United States’ largest adversary, China.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his wife, former President Trump’s Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, “enjoy some of the deepest and most abiding ties to Beijing- linked entities of anyone in Washington, D.C.,” Schweizer writes.
Those ties mostly stem from Chao’s fathers’ massive shipping business, the Foremost Group, which has built the family’s fortune by sharing a close financial relationship with China-owned companies like the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).
After McConnell visited Beijing, China in 1993, alongside Chao, the Foremost Group received 10 mammoth ships from China-owned companies between 2001 to 2011.
“There can be little doubt that the McConnell-Chao family business fortunes could be disrupted overnight if Beijing looked with too much disfavor at the policy positions he takes toward China,” Schweizer notes.
Former President George H.W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
The Bush family’s ties to China began before former President George H.W. Bush became vice president to former President Ronald Reagan but flourished when he became Commander in Chief.
Prescott Bush, Bush Sr.’s brother, met with Chinese officials in Beijing in February 1989 just days before the president was set for an official visit. Prescott’s meeting helped close the deal to build a golf club in Shanghai, China for non-Chinese business executives when they were visiting the country.
Prescott also met with Chinese officials, on that same trip, to push for the creation of a communications network across China. Prescott was trying to secure the deal on behalf of New York-based Asset Management International Financing and Settlement Ltd. which had been paying him $250,000 a year.
Months later in 1989, Bush Sr. lifted U.S. restrictions on exporting satellite technologies to China — a boon for Prescott’s client, Asset Management. Prescott would later launch the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce (USCCC) which exists to this day and has sought to further tether the U.S. economy to China.
When former President George W. Bush entered the Oval Office, Schweizer writes that “a new generation of Bushes began securing deals with Chinese officials” including Bush’s brothers, Neil Bush Jeb Bush.
Neil, for example, scored a $400,000 annual salary working for the Chinese company Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing which had deep political ties in China. Neil also a China-linked firm called the Interlink Management Corporation.
Jeb, in 2013 after leaving office, began meeting with a number of Chinese business executives. Later, he created Britton Hill Holdings and raised $26 million to invest in a liquid petroleum shipping company backed by the China-based HNA Group “with close ties to Beijing’s “red aristocracy,’” Schweizer writes.
Former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)
While Speaker of the House, former Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) “took positions and actions that were highly beneficial to Beijing,” Schweizer writes.
Particularly, in 2011, Boehner single-handedly blocked legislation that would have held China to account for its years of currency manipulation after the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. deployed the lobbying firm, Squire Patton Boggs, to lobby lawmakers against the bill. Boggs was paid $35,000 to block the legislation.
“It’s a pretty dangerous thing to be moving legislation through the U.S. Congress forcing someone to deal with the value of a currency,” Boehner said at the time.
After leaving office in 2015, Boehner became a “strategic advisor” for Boggs. The firm, Schweizer writes, is “one of the most powerful in the United States, has deep and abiding ties to the Chinese government.”
“Beyond representing the Chinese government, Boehner’s firm also has a wide array of Chinese government-linked corporate clients that it lobbies for in Washington,” Schweizer writes. “These include ChemChina, China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation, Huawei, and Wanhua Chemical Group.”
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour
One of China’s “most effective organizations cultivating Chinese interests on Capitol Hill,” known as the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation (CUSEF),” signed former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s lobbying firm BGR Group as a client.
CUSEF, founded by Chinese billionaire Tung Chee-hwa who has close ties to the Chinese Communist Party, has paid Barbour’s BGR Group about $370,000 to lobby on its behalf.
Former Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
The Chinese surveillance company Hikvision, which is owned mostly by a China-controlled defense corporation known as the China Electronics Technology Group, has been hired by the Chinese Communist Party to monitor the nation’s Uyghurs ethnic minority who are held in prison camps.
Former Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), a partner at the lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs with former Rep. Toby Moffett (D-CT), has taken Hikvision as a client to lobby for their interests in Washington, D.C.
Vitter and Moffett’s firm was $70,000 a month to represent Hikvision.
Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad
After being appointed by Trump as U.S. Ambassador to China, former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad — who admittedly considers Chinese President Xi Jinping an “old friend” — sought to get the former president to back away from “restrictions on goods and services trading,” Schweizer writes.
Branstad’s sons, Marcus Branstad and Eric Branstad, have even deeper ties to China.
Marcus Branstad, for instance, lobbies on behalf of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) which opposed Trump’s U.S. tariffs on China. The ACC’s members include the Chinese company Wanhua Chemical Group whose largest shareholder is China’s government agency in charge of state-owned companies.
Eric Branstad previously served as Trump’s Iowa director in the 2016 presidential campaign and later got a job in the administration as the U.S. Commerce Department’s liaison to the White House. While at his post, he befriended Bryan Lanza, a lobbyist working on behalf of the China-owned company, the ZTE Corporation, for Mercury Public Affairs.
In June 2018, after leaving the Trump administration, Eric Branstad traveled to Shanghai with Bryan Lanza and Li Zhao — the Iowa-based business consultant who was previously investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for intellectual property theft.
After the trip, which included meetings with Chinese officials, the Trump administration settled their dealings with ZTE. Eric Branstad went on to work for Mercury Public Affairs for a few years and now works as a “senior advisor” at Trump’s Save America PAC.
Former Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA)
After failing to secure a job as Trump’s top trade representative, former Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) was hired by CUSEF — founded by Chinese billionaire Tung Chee-hwa who has close ties to the Chinese Communist Party — as part of its lobbying arm in Washington, D.C.
In 2019, Boustany took former lawmakers to China on a trip sponsored by CUSEF while at the same time lobbying the Trump administration against U.S. tariffs on China via the group “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland.”
Former Sen. Norman Coleman (R-MN), former Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL), and former Rep. Jon Christensen (R-NE)
The China-owned ZTE Corporation, linked to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has been represented in Washington, D.C. by the likes of former Sen. Norman Coleman (R-MN) as well as former Reps. Jon Christensen (R-NE) and Connie Mack IV.
Coleman’s firm, Hogan Lovells, has cashed in nearly $3 million in 2019, alone, lobbying for ZTE’s interests on Capitol Hill.
Former Sen. William Cohen (R-ME)
In 2001, former Sen. William Cohen (R-ME) created the Cohen Group which now has two offices in China out of its four total offices. Executives with the firm, including Cohen, have sought to popularize among U.S. lawmakers China’s Belt and Road infrastructure projects despite its use of forced labor.
“I think it’s a very important project,” Cohen Group executive Marc Grossman previously said of Belt and Road. In addition to lobbying on China’s behalf, Cohen is a government advisor in China to the mayor of the Tianjin Municipal Government and is an honorary professor at Nankai University.
Former Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) and former Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
The brother of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), now works as a lobbyist for the Chinese Communist Party-linked e-commerce corporation Alibaba.
Hutchinson’s firm, Greenberg Traurig, was paid $200,000 in 2020. Former Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) is also a part of the lobbying deal representing Alibaba.
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), former Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), and former Rep. Jeff Dehman (R-CA)
China’s Tencent Holdings company, linked to the Ministry of Public Security and the PLA, makes technology and products to help the Chinese Communist Party control the nation’s 1.4 billion residents. Former Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) is a lobbyist for the company, scoring $330,000 for his firm in 2020, alone.
Likewise, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) is a lobbyist for ByteDance which operates the population social media application TikTok. Schweizer writes that “there are [Chinese Communist] Party cells within [ByteDance’s] corporate structure, and the company admits that it censors political content.”
Former Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) also lobbies on ByteDance’s behalf. His firm raked in $160,000 from the Chinese company in 2020.
Former Reps. Lee Terry (R-NE), Jack Kingston (R-GA), and Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
The Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, with close ties to the PLA, enjoys lobbying services from former Reps. Lee Terry (R-NE) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL), among others. Stearns, with the firm APCO Worldwide, has lobbied for the PLA-linked China Ocean Shipping Corporation (COSCO).
Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, Schweizer notes, told employees in 2018 to “wage war” on the West and urged them to “surge forward, killing as you go, to blaze us a trail of blood.”
Meanwhile, former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) has lobbied on behalf of the China-owned chemical company ChemChina.