The University of Pennsylvania bagged $3 million from donations last year donated by a mysterious Hong Kong shell company, owned by a Shanghai-based businessman with a deep-rooted connection with Chinese government officials.
Xu Xeuqing, the Chinese businessman, has no connection with Pennsylvania University and was previously associated in a Shanghai public corruption scandal, which begs the question to be asked about the true source of money. Recently, documents reviewed by The Washington Free Beacon have revealed the fact that Xeuqing has deep ties to the communist party of China. The entire thing smells very fishy.
According to the experts, China has already invested money in American universities in recent years with the objective to buy influence on campuses. With the donations coming like this, federal prosecutors have also tightened their scrutiny on the influence buying and espionage operations on American universities led by the Chinese government.
“Unequivocally they’re using the money they’re providing the universities to garner influence there,” said Ben Freeman, the director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy. “It’s not the sole motive, but it’s one of a variety of motives.”
Foreign money has already rained on schools over the last few years with the major portion coming from China. The Ivy League school received a whopping $61 million donation in gifts and contracts from China over the period of March 2017 to the end of 2019. During the previous four years, the school received only $19 million from Chinese donors.
The Penn University received the $3 million donation from a Chinese company called “Nice Famous Corporation Limited,” according to the financial disclosure published by the University. While Stephen McCarthy, the spokesperson of the University, told the Washington Free Beacon initially that it came from a person named Xin Zhou whose company is a significant client of the University’s business school, the Washington Free Beacon could not establish any kind of link between Xin Zhou and Nice Famous Corporation from the Chinese record.
McCarthy did not make any further comment about why the university attributed the donation to Zhou when asked by the Washington Free Beacon.
Based on the information fetched from corporate record, Nice Famous Corporation is really owned by another Chinese national, Xu Xeuqing, a real estate developer who is also well-connected within China’s political circle.
An agent of The Washington Free Beacon went to the registered address of the company in Hong Kong and didn’t find it. Instead, he found another company called Double Rich Development Ltd, which specializes in exporting and importing ores and minerals.
It is really challenging to determine whether the Chinese businesses are “truly independent of the government,” Freeman said. “Even some of the contributions that we’re seeing ostensibly coming from Chinese businesses or Chinese charitable institutions, to some degree or another they are still connected to the Chinese government.”
There are other signs that indicate Xu has close ties with the Chinese government. He is a chairman of Jiuliting Street Chamber of Commerce. His position requires him to work closely with government officials on various economic issues. He was also vice chairman of the Shanghai Golf Association, whose leadership includes senior Chinese Communist officials.
He has other businesses called Upstyle Fashion and Culture Shanghai Co. Ltd where he hosts annual style award shows. He gets the show’s sponsorship from the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and other government entities.
In 2011, Xu was accused of bribery in a case involving a senior officer at the Shanghai Housing and Land Resources Bureau. According to the prosecutors, he gave a Cartier watch as a bribe to get special treatment from the government officials.
The bribe-taker was sentenced to life in prison while Xu came out of the issues with no dirt.
The fact that Xu was not prosecuted clearly indicates that he has a close relationship with the Communist Government, according to Michael Sobolik, a fellow specializing in China at the American Foreign Policy Council.
“Businessmen with high-level CCP connections can play by a different set of rules, as long as they are connected to the right Party faction,” said Sobolik. “The fact that Xu escaped prosecution in Tao Xiaoxing’s trial, and especially his survival of Xi Jinping’s ‘anti-corruption campaign,’ suggest that Xu may have Party connections.”