The appearance of a Chinese government official at a New Year’s Eve event in Times Square has raised questions regarding how connected the local government is to agents of China’s communist regime.
The “Hong Kong Rocks!” event, organized by the Times Square Alliance and celebrated in Times Square this New Year’s Eve, gave pride of place to Huang Ping, the current consul general of the Chinese Embassy in New York.
Huang has earned a reputation over the years as a strident defender of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state, and a denier of human rights abuses committed by the regime.
Moreover, Huang’s appearance at the Hong Kong Rocks! event, where he wished participants a happy New Year and encouraged them to visit China, appears to have been orchestrated by several organizations with ties to both the CCP and the local government in New York City.
Socialism With New York Characteristics
The event was attended by “over 100 guests and dignitaries from the government, diplomatic, business and academic circles, and travel communities of New York,” according to a press release distributed just after midnight by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York.
The press release listed Cimagine International Group (CIMG) as a press contact for the event.
CIMG’s website states that the company has hosted the Chinese cultural opening ceremonies for New Year’s Eve since 2011, but the company was incorporated in March 2022, is headquartered in Manhattan, and maintains ties to prominent elements of the CCP’s vast propaganda network.
CIMG lists Chinese state-owned propaganda outlets China Daily, CCTV, and Xinhua, as well as American outlets ABC, CNN, and NBC among its “media partners.”
The company also lists the Sino-American Friendship Association (SAFA), Sino-American Culture and Arts Foundation (SACAF), and Chinese American Business Development Center (CABDC) as “strategic partners.”
United Front work refers to the CCP’s political strategy of leveraging networks of groups and individuals to advance the party’s interests through propaganda and other influence operations.
United Front organizations are typically managed by agents of the regime’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), but also can also be separated from the regime by numerous layers of front organizations designed to obfuscate the CCP’s influence.
“Strategic partners” may be a misnomer, however, as many of the organizations listed as such on the CIMG and SAFA’s websites appear to be governed by the same people.
Peter Zhang, who is listed on New York documents as the CEO of CIMG, is also the president of the SAFA and chairman of the CABDC.
Likewise, one Li Li is listed online variously as the president of CIMG, president of the SACAF, and the executive vice president and secretary general of the SAFA.
What’s more, Li’s SAFA bio claims that she “spent four years working for the City of New York, the Office of the Mayor, and the Office of Management and Budget.”
The SAFA’s board of advisors also includes a former head of China News Service and a member of the 11th Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a United Front organization that lobbies governments for pro-China policies under the supervision of the CCP, as first reported by Fox News.
Though the myriad ties connecting these organizations raise questions as to how deeply elements of the CCP’s influence apparatus are embedded in New York’s political landscape, Huang’s own long history of political commentary helps to clarify their purpose.
Huang has repeatedly praised the CCP and communism more generally, going so far as to describe the CCP’s “journey to build a great modern socialist country” in heroic terms during a Harvard College China Forum in April of last year.
During that same speech, Huang said that “the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics” was near-universally loved by all Chinese people and that China would “follow this path unswervingly.”
Likewise, during a 2021 interview with the Sinica podcast, Huang said that the CCP was “a great Party” which was “based on the fundamental or basic doctrines of Marxism.”
Huang denied the existence of human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang during the same interview, calling reports of genocide “lies” and describing concentration camps, which the CCP refers to as reeducation centers, as “a campus, rather than camps.”
The Epoch Times has requested comment from Ambassador Huang, CIMG, the Mayor of New York’s Office, the New York Office of Management and Budget, the SACAF, the SAFA, and Times Square Alliance.