By Philip Lenczycki
President Joe Biden’s appointee to represent the U.S. at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) formerly served as a member of an organization which experts have identified as a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligence front group, according to a spokesman from the company he leads.
Dominic Ng, CEO of East West Bank, served at an “executive-director level” in an “honorary position” at the China Overseas Exchange Association (COEA), yet allegedly withdrew from the organization in 2014 due to “non-participation,” according to statements an East West Bank spokesman made to American Banker on Friday. The statement was issued following a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation which found that Ng served as “executive director” at COEA between 2013 and 2017, before the banker began a five-year position with the same title of “executive director” at the related China Overseas Friendship Association (COFA) in 2019; both COEA and COFA have been identified as Chinese intelligence front groups.
Consequently, six Republican members of Congress led by Texas Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday demanding an investigation into Ng’s reported ties to the CCP. While characterizing recent scrutiny into Ng’s alleged CCP ties as “conspiracy theories,” the bank’s spokesman also denied Ng had ever been involved with COFA, according to the report.
“An individual with ties to Chinese intelligence front groups should be disqualified from public office,” Texas Republican Rep. Lance Gooden told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Monday. “If he has any integrity, Mr. Ng would step down until an investigation has time to occur.”
Multiple Chinese intelligence analysts, such as former CIA officer Nicholas Eftimiades, have identified both COEA and COFA, which merged in 2019, as front groups for the United Front Work Department (UFWD), a CCP agency overseeing both influence and intelligence operations, according to reports from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC).
“American law and policy makers need to stand firm against candidates who have known associations with the COEA or COFA because it’s a part of the CCP’s UFWD which is responsible for coordinating domestic and foreign influence operations through propaganda and manipulation,” Ina Mitchell, co-author of “The Mosaic Effect: How The Chinese Communist Party Started A War In America’s Backyard,” told the DCNF.
East West Bank’s spokesman claimed that the extent of Ng’s involvement with COEA was significantly less than what the DCNF’s investigation found, according to American Banker; for example, the spokesman claims that although Ng had been a member of COEA, Ng never paid membership fees and allegedly withdrew from the organization at some point in 2014.
However, the DCNF found that Ng was listed as COEA’s “executive director” throughout the entirety of COEA’s 5th Council between 2013 and 2017, citing multiple archived versions of COEA’s website.
The East West Bank spokesman also claimed that Ng never attended any meetings with COEA, according to American Banker.
Yet, the main image on the front page of an archived version of COEA’s website from February 12, 2014, prominently features Ng meeting in Beijing with COEA’s former “chairman,” Han Qide, the DCNF found.
Furthermore, since 2014, Ng apparently continued to interact with UFWD leaders from COEA including participating in meetings with the alleged front group’s former “executive vice chairman” Qiu Yuanping in Beijing in March 2015 and again in Los Angeles in February 2016.
“America needs to wake up and start to view political appointees with ties to UFWD organizations as a national security threat to the nation,” Mitchell told the DCNF. “[Individuals who’ve belonged to UFWD fronts] are not only unfit to serve, they are a danger to the nation. They are there to undermine America and help shape foreign views of China.”
APEC, East West Bank and Ng did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
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