Janet Yellen, President Joe Biden’s pick to be secretary of the treasury, has extensive financial ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and to the Wall Street banks that she is supposed to regulate.
Yellen’s links to China were uncovered through her very own financial disclosures, which reveals that she was paid to speak at Caixin, a Beijing-based media group. While it is supposedly a private corporation, Caixin is still known to have deep ties with the CCP.
Yellen’s latest financial disclosure document included a 68-item-long list titled “Filer’s Sources of Compensation Exceeding $5,000 in a Year.” Coming in at No. 33 on the list is Caixin, which means that this Chinese media corporation paid her over $5,000 for a speaking engagement.
American news outlets have highlighted Caixin due to its very close ties to the CCP through its founder, Hu Shuli, who has been described as being “savvy” and having many personal connections. She even has a close friendship with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan.
A New Yorker profile also noted that Hu is living in an elite community filled with media workers that have gained the favor of the communist government.
In addition to Hu’s personal ties, Caixin also has financial connections to the party. In 2019, as the company attempted to raise up to $200 million, it has been discovered that its main financial backers were Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings and investment firm China Media Capital.
According to the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Tencent is a “tool of the Chinese government” that will always say yes if party officials require its assistance.
On the other hand, China Media Capital was started by a former CCP deputy secretary-general and chief of staff to the Shanghai Municipal Government. The investment firm’s principal financial backer also happens to be the state-owned China Development Bank.
Because of all these personal and financial ties to the CCP, Caixin doesn’t actually use its platform to hold the government accountable. It regularly avoids touching issues that are too sensitive or critical of China, such as the ongoing terror campaign against the Uyghurs of the country’s northwestern province of Xinjiang.
Yaxue Cao, a Washington-based Chinese dissident, said that while Caixin claims to be a private and independent media corporation, it cannot be considered truly free from the grasp of the CCP due to Hu’s connections.
“Instead of independence, it’s a privilege,” noted Cao.
News of Yellen’s ties to the CCP through Caixin has emerged as critics of the new Biden administration felt that her appointment was premature and that lawmakers were not able to give her a thorough vetting.
Yellen doesn’t just have extensive ties to China and the CCP, it also has strong financial connections to Wall Street and America’s financial sector which, as Treasury Secretary, she is supposed to regulate. (Related: Proof that Beijing really controls Wall Street: NYSE ignored Trump’s executive order to delist China telecoms.)
In the past two years alone, Yellen was paid more than $7.2 million in speaking fees by large Wall Street corporations like UBS, Standard Chartered Bank, Salesforce, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, City National Bank, Citigroup, Citadel LLC, BNP Paribas, Barclays and more.
Yellen, who was the chair of the Federal Reserve for four years, was paid nearly $1 million for nine speeches she gave to Citigroup alone.
Democrats have attempted to downplay concerns regarding Yellen’s ties to Wall Street.
“Take a look at her record on enforcement,” one official said. “This is not someone who pulls punches when it comes to bad actors or bad behavior. You can expect she will bring the same high ethical standards and tough enforcement philosophy to the Treasury.”
The Democrats also noted that some of Yellen’s speeches were moderated or covered by journalists. However, many other transcripts of Yellen’s speeches to Wall Street banks have not been made public, and White House officials have not been able to provide specific proof that shows Yellen will be true to her words and be tough on the banks.
While progressives have heaped praise on Yellen for her position as the first female Treasury Secretary, the fact that she has recorded ties to the CCP and to the financial industry could raise concerns that she is too cozy with both China and Wall Street.
“This disclosure dovetails with some broader Democratic concerns regarding the revolving door and the access certain financial services firms have to top policymakers,” said Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at a Washington-based investment firm, in an email.
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