Americans endured years of federal investigations and media frenzy over allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia, a second-rate rival in open decline. Americans now deserve more than indignant dismissals from Joe Biden's campaign about the Biden family's business affairs in China — the country that poses the pre-eminent threat to U.S. national security today.
Special counsel Robert Mueller's team spent two years and an estimated $32 million investigating allegations of collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia before failing to establish that this took place. No matter who wins Tuesday, Americans would be right to demand an investigation into Hunter Biden's business in China and any allegations of connections to his father, Joe Biden. This is especially important in light of Beijing's long-standing practice of targeting highly influential people at or near the top of governments.
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On Tucker Carlson's Fox News show last week, Biden family business partner Tony Bobulinski made highly detailed allegations of meetings he had with Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and Joe's brother Jim Biden in 2017, indicating that the former vice president had knowledge of Hunter's dealings with a company close to China's Communist Party. That company, CEFC China Energy, purportedly offered Hunter $10 million a year "for introductions alone."
Joe Biden has flatly denied involvement with any of his son's overseas business, and there is to date no independently confirmed evidence of a link. So far, the allegations from Bobulinski appear to be the only ones claiming to tie Biden to his son's international business activities.
But on the eve of a presidential election, with a majority of likely voters believing it's likely that Joe Biden was consulted about his son's dealings abroad, a public commitment from the Biden family to fully comply with any such investigation is critical to restore trust and confidence should Biden win the White House.
This is also essential because the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, is orchestrating the greatest external challenge to American global leadership since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Cold War taught generations of Americans to regard Russia as their chief international rival, but with its entire gross domestic product just slightly more than that of Texas, Russia no longer deserves that status. To be clear, Moscow remains a threat, especially for America's allies and friends in Europe and the Middle East. But as the left-leaning Center for American Progress assesses it, Russia today "is not a peer competitor — or even a near-peer competitor — with the United States."
Not so with Beijing. Having surpassed the United States as the country with the world's largest economy this year, China now has far greater reach and resources to pursue its long-standing plan to displace America globally and destabilize Americans at home through cyberattacks and espionage, intellectual property theft and other malign activity.
In its 2018 National Defense Strategy, the Defense Department had identified great-power competition from China and Russia as the main threats to U.S. security, but this summer, Secretary Mark Esper explicitly labeled China as America's most dangerous military rival, directing the National Defense University "to refocus its curriculum by dedicating 50 percent of the coursework" to China.
China poses a danger to millions of regular Americans at home, too. Speaking at Washington's Hudson Institute this year, FBI Director Christopher Wray put it simply: "If you are an American adult, it is more likely than not that China has stolen your personal data."
Referring to the 2017 Equifax hack, in which China's military purloined personal information from more than 140 million Americans, Wray added that nearly half the FBI's 5,000 active counterintelligence cases are related to China and that the FBI opens a new China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours.
As the analysts at the Center for American Progress write, China's long-term strategic approach includes "building relationships with — and often leverage over — governments, institutions, businesses, and prominent individuals around the world as a way to project power." Hacking millions of people's personal information is one way to do that.
But the center's writers make another interesting observation: "Given China's global ambitions and desire to be seen in a positive light on the global stage, the CCP seems to value having actual plausible deniability."
This brings us back to the Biden family's business dealings in China.
In his Fox News interview, Bobulinski related what he said was a personal conversation at another meeting with Jim Biden in May 2017. Bobulinski asked whether the Biden family worried that its engagement with CEFC China Energy might jeopardize Joe Biden's career. According to CNN, CEFC China Energy "aligned itself so closely with the Chinese government that it was often hard to distinguish between the two." According to Bobulinski, Jim Biden responded with the phrase "plausible deniability." When asked by reporters last week, Jim Biden offered no comment.
As The Wall Street Journal has editorialized, there's no evidence that the former vice president benefited from his son's business activities in China. But The Journal also noted that — when it came to the alleged encounters in which Bobulinksi and Joe Biden discussed Hunter Biden's possible venture with the Chinese energy company — Joe Biden "hasn't denied that the meetings took place, and the Bobulinski documents make clear that Mr. Biden hasn't been honest about his knowledge of his son's business affairs."
This is unsettling for Americans about to walk into the polling booth. They know the Chinese government is a nefarious actor, from state-sponsored theft of intellectual property to international campaigns targeting fleeing political dissidents to funding pro-Communist Party research projects on U.S. college campuses while disincentivizing research deemed harmful to Beijing.
They also know that Joe Biden's campaign has not denied that the May 2017 meeting described by Bobulinski took place. How much there is to the rest of Bobulinski's story is a question best answered by impartial federal authorities. It is entirely reasonable to want them to investigate, especially if they were willing to go to such lengths to investigate actions related to a second-tier competitor like Russia in 2016. Why would they do anything less when the son of a presidential nominee is working with companies tied to such masterly manipulators as the Chinese Communist Party?
Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Trust the American people. Don't try to frighten, lie to or bully them. They can handle the truth. And they deserve to hear it.
Win or lose, the business dealings of Joe Biden's family with China need to be investigated — but most especially if he wins.