Biden infrastructure czar should be disqualified over China links, GOP says

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure czar pick, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, should be disqualified from overseeing the $1.2 trillion spending legislation due to his role as an adviser for a pro-China business group with links to the Communist Party, according to a key House Republican and China hawk.

Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin called upon Biden to reverse his choice because of Landrieu’s position as a “strategic adviser” for the U.S. Heartland China Association. The group is a U.S.-based trade organization that seeks Chinese investment inside the United States and regularly partners with Chinese organizations in the CCP’s United Front Work Department — the Chinese government’s foreign influence arm worldwide, which Xi Jinping has described as their “magic weapon.”

“Mitch Landrieu served as an adviser to the United States China Heartland Association, a group that is funded by CCP United Front organizations and that promotes Chinese investment in U.S. infrastructure projects,” Gallagher said in a statement. “This should disqualify him from overseeing the implementation of President Biden’s massive infrastructure package. The President must immediately reconsider this selection and find another individual — who hasn’t advised an entity funded by the CCP — to do the job.”

The connection between Landrieu and USHCA was first noted by the Free Beacon.

USHCA is a Missouri-based group that says it is “committed to building stronger ties” with China.


Former Democratic Gov. Bob Holden serves as the chairman and CEO of USCHA, and his LinkedIn page also says he “helped bring the first Confucius Institute” to Webster University. The U.S. government considers Confucius Institutes to be part of China’s foreign influence operations.

Holden called for “more foreign direct investment into the Heartland” during a speech earlier this year. He also called for “infrastructure investment,” arguing Chinese funding “could be a win-win for people and cultures in our Heartland and for China.” Holden said he had recently met with eight former governors who “all agree that trade with China, student exchanges with China, investments from and into China, and tourists from China are essential to our states’ economies.”

That speech was given at the 2021 Hong Kong Forum on U.S.-China Relations, put together by USCHA in collaboration with the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, both with connections to the CCP.

Tung Chee-hwa, who runs CUSEF, is a Hong Kong-based businessman and vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The CPPCC describes itself as “an organization of the patriotic United Front of the Chinese people” and as “an important organ for the development of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.”

CUSEF said in a 2019 statement it had partnered with USHCA and that “our U.S. Heartland mayor delegation brought leaders from Carmel (Indiana), Sioux Falls (South Dakota), and Youngstown and Maumee (Ohio) to China in mid-November for the first time.” During the trip, CUSEF said the mayors “had in-depth and fruitful conversations with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and government leaders in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.”

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in 2018 that “demonstrating the extent of CUSEF’s ties to the Chinese government and its involvement in influence operations, the organization has also cooperated on projects with the China Association for International Friendly Contact, uses the same public relations firm as the Chinese Embassy, and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for ‘China-U.S. relations’ as a registered foreign agent.” CAIFC was described as “a front for the former People’s Liberation Army General Political Department.”

Biden’s CIA Director William Burns had served as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace since 2015, and he was grilled during his confirmation about the organization’s financial relationship with CUSEF, saying they ended it because of concerns about “Chinese influence operations.”

Another USHCA-led event, the 2021 U.S.-China Agriculture Roundtable, was headed up by Holden, who thanked the “co-host,” the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and the “co-organizer,” the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, run by the Chinese government. The State Department said in 2020 that CPAFFC has been “tasked with co-opting subnational governments” and “has sought to directly and malignly influence state and local leaders to promote the PRC’s global agenda.” Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused CPAFFC of being part of the United Front and said it had “undermined” the U.S-China Governors Forum.

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