A fundraiser and donor to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ election campaign heads a non-profit that houses a Chinese overseas police station and works closely with Communist Party influence operations, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found.
Lu Jianshun supported fundraising efforts for Adams through his role as the president of America Changle Association, an organization based in Manhattan’s Chinatown that caters to overseas Chinese from the Changle district of Fuzhou, Fujian Province in China, the DCNF found. Lu himself donated $4,000 to Adams’ mayoral campaign under the adopted name “James Lu” between 2019 and 2021, according to public campaign finance records.
Lu and America Changle have worked closely with the United Front Work Department (UFWD), the DCNF found based on a review of Chinese state media and government sources. The UFWD is a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) agency tasked with running influence operations and monitoring overseas Chinese communities, according to a 2018 report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
The UFWD “seeks to co-opt ethnic Chinese individuals and communities living outside China” and plays “an increasingly important role in China’s broader foreign policy” under General Secretary Xi Jinping, the report states.
America Changle has maintained close contact with and taken instruction from UFWD officials during video conference calls in recent years, according to multiple Chinese-state-run media sources.
For example, both America Changle President Lu Jianshun and its former chairman Lu Jianwang received orders from the UFWD on how best to respond to the COVID-19 virus during one March 2020 video call, according to U.S.-based Chinese-language outlet icitynews. During the call, the deputy minister of the UFWD for Fuzhou instructed America Changle to guide the overseas Chinese to wear masks, wash their hands, and increase communication with their China-based counterparts, a state media outlet for overseas Fujianese reported.
Zhang Zikuo, former chairman of America Changle, took part in the March 2020 video conference and replied to the UFWD deputy minister by saying their organization would “comply” with the Chinese government’s request and increase safety measures, according to the state-run outlet.
One year later, in March 2021, Lu Jianshun, Lu Jianwang, and others held another video conference with CCP members and UFWD officials who acknowledged America Changle’s role in planting a UFWD “liaison office” in Manhattan, according to a report from the official news organization of China’s Fujian Province.
During the video conference, Lu Jianwang thanked the UFWD for their help in establishing the satellite office within America Changle purportedly to connect overseas Chinese with the Fuzhou government, the report stated. Lu Jianwang was identified as a “special liaison officer for the Changle District Court,” apparently in reference to his role as the primary intermediary between the UFWD and the Chinese community that associates with America Changle.
The following month, Lu Jianshun and Lu Jianwang held another livestream with UFWD and Propaganda department officials in June 2021, this time celebrating the 100th anniversary of the CCP, Chinese media state reported.
Adams’ office and America Changle did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
‘People Can See Him as a Conduit’
Lu’s donations to Adams’ campaign were first reported by The New York Post, as was Adams’ attendance to America Changle’s gala in September.
The DCNF confirmed Lu’s identity by matching his Facebook profile with photos and articles from America Changle and other media outlets.
America Changle is just one of many New York City associations that claim to “promote the prosperity” of Chinese immigrants. However, New York City Chinese human rights activists have raised the alarm over the group’s president’s support of Adams, noting the strong ties between America Changle and CCP-backed influence operations.
“They have a lot of money,” Zhang Jing, a human rights advocate from New York City’s Chinatown, told the DCNF. “They can often hold banquets to support the candidates they like.”
Changle’s website includes several photographs of Adams with Lu Jianshun bearing a caption that reads: “support Eric Adams campaign.”
Lu Jianshun is also the co-chairman of the Alliance of Asian American Friends (AAAF), which is composed of dozens of “alliance units,” including America Changle. AAAF held at least five events supporting Adams’ 2021 campaign between May and October 2021, according to its website.
Former New York City Council member Peter Koo serves as AAAF’s honorary president, the organization’s website shows, and has reportedly organized campaign events for Adams attended by America Changle representatives, such as a December 2021 fundraiser for Adam’s inauguration, according to state-controlled media.
Lu Jianshun and other prominent Chinese residents of New York City—such as Mei Jianguo, head of the U.S. arm of the newspaper Sing Tao—also held a fundraiser for Adams at Royal Queen Restaurant in Flushing Chinatown in January 2020, according to Chinese state media. The Department of Justice forced Sing Tao U.S. to register as a foreign agent in 2021. Sing Tao’s parent company is owned by members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which is controlled by the CCP.
Just one day after America Changle convened a flag-waving party for communist China’s 73rd birthday, Adams attended the organization’s 24th anniversary celebration on Sept. 29, where he reportedly sang the group’s praises.
“This is such an important organization to empower our Chinese-American community,” Adams said at the celebration while standing beside Lu Jianshun on the stage, referring to America Changle. He then characterized the organization as the “foundation” of both New York City’s Chinese community and the “entire city.”
One expert in nonprofits told the DCNF that politicians should be wary of which groups they associate with on the campaign trail and while in office.
“Adams, as Mayor, needs to be very careful with his relationship with anything — whether it’s with a business or other politicians or with nonprofits — because people can see him as a conduit to a lot of things,” Doug White, a philanthropic adviser, told the DCNF.
‘Chinese Equivalent of a Police Station on US Soil’
America Changle was registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit between 2016 and 2018, federal records reveal; however, the IRS added the organization to an “auto-revocation list” in May 2022 after it failed to file tax returns for three consecutive years. America Changle’s current tax exempt status remains unclear, as the IRS notice also states that even if an organization appears on the auto-revocation list it may have had its status reinstated.
America Changle also houses an overseas Chinese police bureau within its Manhattan offices, which is part of a global network of outposts the CCP uses to spy on and intimidate Chinese dissidents, according to a recent report by human rights group Safeguard Defenders.
These stations “both in their online and physical overseas form, also serve a more sinister goal as they contribute to ‘resolutely cracking down on all kinds of illegal and criminal activities involving overseas Chinese,’” reads the report.
The station housed within America Changle is an extension of the “110 Overseas” police unit from Fuzhou, in China’s Fujian Province, which reportedly executes “foreign strike operations” against overseas Chinese dissidents through intimidation, arrest, and forced repatriation, according to Safeguard Defenders.
America Changle opened its “110 Overseas” police station in February 2022, Chinese state-run media outlet reported. The report listed Lu and several other America Changle members as staff members of the police station.
“This Chinese equivalent of a police station on U.S. soil appears neither advisable nor legal,” Steve Yates, former deputy assistant for national security affairs to former Vice President Mike Pence, told the DCNF. “Under no circumstances would China tolerate a foreign law enforcement entity to operate inside China but outside normal channels, and neither should we do so here.”
Laura Harth, campaign director for the human rights group Safeguard Defenders, told the DCNF that overseas police stations, such as the one found within America Changle, appear to be aligned with the UFWD’s influence operations.
It is “clear” that Beijing is using the UFWD “to build this policing service,” Harth said, referring to the vast secret police station network that includes the station housed within America Changle.
The DCNF reached out to the FBI, who declined to comment.
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