Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) last week quietly accepted a lifetime achievement award from a foundation with deep ties to a Chinese Communist Party front group.
The George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations honored Feinstein for her commitment to “a robust and mutually beneficial U.S.-China relationship.” The group is heavily funded by the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation, a Hong Kong-based think tank considered a key player in the Chinese Communist Party’s united front propaganda system. Axios reported last week that the Exchange Foundation gave the Bush foundation a five-year, $5 million grant in 2019 to promote ties between the United States and China.
U.S. officials have expressed concern that the Exchange Foundation serves as an influence agent for the Chinese government. CIA director William Burns testified at his February confirmation hearing that he ended a partnership with the group when he served as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, citing the think tank’s influence activities. Feinstein attended that hearing as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Feinstein has come under scrutiny for China-related matters before. She said last year that China was “growing into a respectable nation” and cautioned against holding China accountable for the coronavirus pandemic. Feinstein also employed a suspected Chinese spy as a congressional aide for nearly two decades. She supported expanded trade relations with China while her husband sought business deals in the country.