Report: Suspected Chinese Spy Developed Relationships with U.S. politicians, including California Rep. Swalwell
A suspected Chinese spy developed close relationships with U.S. politicians as a way to gain access to and influence U.S. political circles, Axios has revealed after a yearlong investigation.
Christine Fang, also known as Fang Fang, was able to gain access to politicians through campaign fundraising, extensive networking and romantic or sexual relationships, according to Axios. She became particularly close with Democratic California Rep. Eric Swalwell, the report noted.
Fang enrolled as a student at California State University East Bay in 2011. She became involved in politics and went to extraordinary lengths to meet and befriend U.S. politicians.
She came into contact with many of California’s most prominent political figures.
Fang reportedly interacted with Swalwell at several political events, helped fundraise for his re-election campaign and put at least one intern into his office.
Fang also fundraised for Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, as well as had a romantic or sexual relationship with at least two midwest mayors, according to the report.
Fang’s activities became suspicious and she was put under FBI surveillance.
“The fact that she was traveling around the country” getting close to U.S. politicians “was a big red flag,” an FBI official told Axios. “She was on a mission.”
Fang portrayed herself ‘to be the connector between the Asian American community and members of Congress,’ sources told Axios.
A source also told Axios that Fang served as a ‘bundler’ during Swalwell’s 2014 Congress re-election campaign on his behalf, meaning she convinced others to donate to his campaign operations.
in 2015, FBI agents reportedly became alarmed at Fang’s activities. They alerted Swalwell and he immediately cut off all ties to Fang, according to a current U.S. intelligence official.
Fang left the country unexpectedly in 2015 amid the investigation.
Many of Fang’s political contacts were surprised about her sudden disappearance, Axios explained.
She reportedly had plans to attend a June 2015 event in Washington D.C., but suddenly said she couldn’t make it and needed to return to China.
“She disappeared off the face of everything,” Gilbert Wong, former mayor of Cupertino, California, told Axios.
Swalwell’s office provided a statement to Axios that said: “Rep. Swalwell, long ago, provided information about this person — whom he met more than eight years ago, and whom he hasn’t seen in nearly six years — to the FBI. To protect information that might be classified, he will not participate in your story.”
Since the Fang probe, the FBI has prioritized investigations into Chinese influence operations. The agency created a unit dedicated to countering Beijing’s operations at state and local levels in May 2019.
U.S. national security officials believe the threat posed by China has only grown with time.
“She was just one of lots of agents,” said a current senior U.S. intelligence official, according to Axios.
U.S. officials supposedly believe Fang’s real reason for being in the U.S was to gather political intelligence and to influence rising U.S. officials on China-related issues.
Fang has not returned to the U.S. and has appeared to have cut off contact with her networks she spent years building in California, Axios reported.
“Fang’s case shows how a single determined individual, allegedly working for Beijing, can gain access to sensitive U.S. political circles,” Axios reported.
Last night, President Donald Trump tweeted a video of a Chinese professor suggesting that China has managed to influence U.S. policy for decades.