Patrick Ho Chi-ping JP is Hong Kong’s former Secretary for Home Affairs of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and had joined the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference as well as the Preparatory Committee of the SAR.
He was arrested last year on November 18th at John F. Kennedy International Airport and the former Hong Kong government official made one phone call: to James B. Biden, the younger brother of the former U.S. Vice President asking him for a lawyer because the U.S. Department of Justice was planning to indict him for using his connections at the United Nations to bribe a U.N. General Assembly president along with several African government officials.
The media had covered the story in depth because investigation revealed that Patrick Ho was responsible of handling and running an energy company’s think tank, China Energy Fund Committee, an NGO affiliated with the U.N. that had branches in New York, Virginia and Hong Kong.
The former Hong Kong official was indicted on a number of foreign bribery and money-laundering charges, but the investigation surrounding Ho, his nonprofit and its parent company, and the United Nations wasn’t about just corruption. According to several reports court filings reveal that the government collected at least some of Ho’s communications under a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a secret order used to monitor suspected foreign agents.
And records related to the case — including docs submitted by Ho’s own attorney — now connect Ho’s alleged payments to promotion of a major Beijing foreign policy push called the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature venture advancing investment and infrastructure projects around the world. Belt and Road isn’t about only inking business deals; it offers a sweeping vision of a China-centric political and economic global order, one in which countries depend on China, not the West, for prosperity.
China has been trying to influence U.S. and has caught President Trump’s attention several times, ultimately leading President Trump to speak at the United Nations, accusing China of meddling in U.S. affairs, and in a high-profile speech on China the following month, Vice President Mike Pence asserted that the United States believes Beijing is seeking to “interfere in the domestic policies of this country” as part a wide-scale influence operation.
China seems to not only influence United States but also the most prominent organization in the world United Nations. For U.S. this isn’t the first time non profits have used to funnel money to United Nations, two officials in 2015 were prosecuted for the same.
Western intelligence officials says Ho’s case fits a broader pattern. Beijing, they argue, is deploying private companies, billionaires, spy agencies, and even charities to achieve its political agenda abroad. And though Trump administration wants to convict Beijing of pursuing a pursuing a global influence campaign or devilling in propaganda it’s easier to convict Patrick Ho of financial crime
“The Chinese don’t think of it as bribery and corruption,” said one former senior U.S. intelligence official. “They think about it as investment, whether it is at the U.N. or elsewhere.”