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The Chinese Connection: From the Clintons to Biden, Inc.

In “The French Connection,” the iconic 1971 film starring Gene Hackman as the grisly New York City detective Popeye Doyle, the bad guy is a wealthy Frenchman operating the world’s largest heroin-smuggling syndicate. In what could be its sequel, the Chinese government has been operating the world’s largest influence-peddling syndicate for decades. The drug of choice is no longer heroin but money – and lots of it. Starting in the mid-1990s with the Clintons, it has grown in both size and audacity and now seems to have ensnared the Biden family, as well. There is a straight line from China’s meddling in the 1996 presidential election directly to Biden, Inc. and their present-day “Chinese Connection.”

Today, we refer to it simply as the 1996 U.S. Campaign Finance Controversy. However, during the Clinton presidency, it was so much more. Both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were directly involved in raising large sums of cash from foreign sources, mostly with ties to the Chinese government. The lead actors in the scandal were Johnny Huang, Charlie Trie, Johnny Chung and James Riady. There was also the infamous fundraiser at the Buddhist temple in California and the straw donors they used to funnel money to the DNC – all the makings of a true crime classic.

After the election, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee’s final report stated that “the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. was used for coordinating contributions to the DNC in violation of United States law…” It went on to say, “the Committee uncovered strong circumstantial evidence that the Government of the People’s Republic of China was involved in funding, directing or encouraging some of these foreign contributions.”

That was China’s entrée into American elections. Just prior to leaving office in September 2000, President Clinton signed into law the US-China Trade Relationship Act, clearly in exchange for their financial stewardship of his campaign. China got full and permanent normalized trade relations with the U.S., making their acceptance into the World Trade Organization (WTO) a foregone conclusion. When the Clintons left office broke, the money they raised giving speeches was not nearly enough to get them out of debt, let alone give them the lifestyle they so desperately craved. The Clinton Foundation, perhaps not so coincidentally, had been established in 1997 and became the vehicle by which Chinese money flowed into our politics and the Clintons’ pockets. However, it was only after the Clintons left office that it began to really mushroom into what we see today.


Robert B. Chernin

Robert B. Chernin

Robert is a longtime entrepreneur, business leader, fundraiser, and former radio talk show host. He studied political science at McGill University in Montreal and has spent over 25 years deeply involved in civic affairs at all levels. Robert has consulted on a variety of federal and statewide campaigns at the gubernatorial, congressional, senatorial, and presidential level. He served in leadership roles in the presidential campaigns of President George W. Bush as well as McCain for President. He led Florida’s Victory 2004’s national Jewish outreach operations as Executive Director. In addition, he served on the President’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition.