Chinese spy got her start as Cal State student, report says

Axios reported that alleged Chinese spy Christine Fang targeted local and national politicians from California.

The student reportedly got her start by enrolling at California State University-East Bay.

Christine Fang, the alleged Chinese political operative who gained influence among several California politicians, including Rep. Eric Swalwell, used her status as a California State University student to her advantage.

According to an Axios story published Monday, Fang enrolled as a California State University-East Bay student in 2011 — the same year she began her work as a political operative. 

Fang reportedly utilized her positions as president of the school’s Chinese Student Association and president of the campus chapter of Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs as a means by which to gain political access, according to the report.

As a student, she was able to invite politicians and executives to campus as the leader of these organizations. Her first known contact with Swalwell reportedly occurred during this period.

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Axios also reported that although it’s not out of the ordinary for the Chinese Student Association to be in contact with the Chinese government, Fang’s relationship with the San Francisco consulate was an unusually close one. 

In a few years, Fang frequented political events in the San Francisco Bay Area, enabling her to gain access to Swalwell, who was elected to Congress in 2012 and currently sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, meaning that he has more access to U.S. intelligence than most members of Congress. 

According to Axios, Fangplayed a role in deciding which interns would be assigned to Swalwell’s congressional offices and helped fundraise for Swalwell’s political campaign.  

Fang also managed to develop romantic relations with two unnamed mayors in midwestern cities. Fang reportedly left the U.S. in 2015.  

Campus Reform has reported extensively on the many ways in which China has sought to impact American politics, including by gaining a foothold in the country’s higher education institutions. 

In August 2020, the State Department classified the Chinese government-run Confucius Institute as a “foreign mission.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said they exist for the purpose of “advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms.”

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Also in 2020, the State Department announced that it would “now require senior [People’s Republic of China] diplomats in the United States to receive approval to visit U.S. university campuses.”

The Chinese Communist Party also doubled down on efforts to regulate the free expression of Hong Kong’s citizens in recent years. Accordingly, many prominent American universities began allowing students from Hong Kong to opt-out of conversations that pertain to Chinese diplomacy in order to avoid prosecution under Hong Kong’s CCP-backed national security law.

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Campus Reform reached out to California State University for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft