Accuracy in Media

    In our last commentary we reported that President Jiang Zemin of China, when asked by Mike Wallace what he would like to say to Al Gore and George W. Bush about U.S.-China relations, responded, “I have a lot of friends among leaders of both parties, Republicans and Democrats.” That was not an answer to the question, but Mike Wallace took advantage of it to make this crack: “So you give money to both their campaigns?” Jiang responded, “Are you joking? We have never done such things.” Wallace didn’t confront the Chinese dictator with the hard evidence of illegal Chinese government donations to the Clinton/Gore campaign and the DNC.

    You can find that evidence neatly laid out in a new book by Kenneth R. Timmerman titled Selling Out America. Johnny Chung, the California businessman who is famous for making generous gifts to the Democrats in return for access to the White House, described the source of his funds in testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform in May of last year. He testified that when he was in China in August 1996, he got a call from Liu Chaoying, the daughter of a senior Chinese general. She was managing director of the Hong Kong subsidiary of the China Aerospace Corporation. She invited him to a dinner to meet a very important person from Beijing.

    The important person was General Ji Shengdi, the director of Chinese military intelligence and a close ally of President Jiang. Two days later, Gen. Ji again met Johnny Chung in a Hong Kong hotel. He confirmed that he would wire $300,000 to Ms. Liu’s account for transfer to Johnny Chung. Liu told Chung that China was using several other intermediaries besides him to buy influence with the Clinton administration. Her message was that China wanted to see Clinton reelected and that he could use the $300,000 to help achieve that goal. He was also asked to take care of General Ji’s son, who was studying in California. Chung was able to arrange for the son and his mother to meet President Clinton at fund raiser a few months later.

    Justice Department records showed that $300,000 was transferred to Johnny Chung from Ms. Liu’s Citibank account in Hong Kong on August 14, 1996. Investigators traced the money to J&A Securities, the biggest securities trading company in China, which was set up by the People’s Liberation Army.

    Timmerman says that Chung was quizzed about his ties to this company and General Ji by Justice Department investigators in 1998. That same year, Chung was warned by an emissary sent here by General Ji not to reveal the involvement of the general or China Aerospace in the campaign contribution scheme. Chung negotiated a plea bargain with the Justice Department that involved his recording his conversations with this emissary.

    The emissary told him that if he kept quiet, China would take care of his legal expenses and his family and that they would try to get Clinton to pardon him if he was imprisoned. Jiang had said he would answer any question. Asking Jiang about the payments and promises made to Johnny Chung was a test that Mike Wallace faced. He flunked.

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