Prominent Democratic oppositon research and activism firm, American Bridge, received an “anonymous” donation of $100,000 worth of stock in the Chinese search engine company, Baidu, which has direct links to the Chinese Communist government, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
American Bridge calls itself a “progressive research and communications committed to holding Republicans accountable for their words and actions and helping you ascertain when Republican candidates are pretending to be something they’re not,” but it operates largely as a campaign arm, providing Democratic candidates with opposition research meant to destroy Republican opponents. Its leader and founder, David Brock, is a well-known progressive activist and it has connections to everything from Democratic super PACs to the leftist media “watchdog,” Media Matters for America.
Baidu “is a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in Internet-related services and products and artificial intelligence,” per Wikipedia, but its influence on Chinese life goes far beyond simply providing a Google-like search engine for China’s walled-off internet. Wired reported last year that Baidu operates as a de facto internet censor for the Chinese government, blocking information critical of China’s leadership, past and present.
The Free Beacon reports that “American Bridge reported the receipt of the 450 [Baidu] shares in late 2018, a gift that was disclosed in its latest tax filings…The gift was valued at $101,037, according to the organization’s Form 990. It is unclear whether the group sold the stock or opted to retain it in the hope share prices would rise.”
The concern, of course, goes beyond just Baidu’s role within and relationship to the Chinese government — and, of course, beyond the mere connection to China. Essentially, as the Free Beacon notes, a firm in active opposition to the current administration is profiting from a connection to what is, at the moment, a country out of favor with the United States (to put it mildly).
“The party calls, you act, or you risk disappearing,” an expert from American Enterprise Institute told the outlet. “Further, Baidu is under a greater degree of party control than the average Chinese private firm because Baidu’s business is basically dissemination of information.”
“Moreover, holding Baidu stock automatically involves a bit of rooting for China,” the expert added. “Baidu is a prominent firm that attracts more interest when China is seen to be thriving. A strong American economy is generally considered good for Google. Same thing.”
U.S. officials have also warned about Americans holding Baidu stock, given that it acts as an arm of the state in China.
American Bridge has grand plans to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. It raised $23 million for the upcoming presidential campaign and has already commissioned nearly $7 million of that for ads in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, the Free Beacon says.
China, meanwhile, is facing virulent criticism from western nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, for its failure to warn of the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. In cooperation with the World Health Organization, it seems, China endeavored to hide the true extent of its national pandemic, even going so far as to insist to world nations that the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, could not be transmitted between humans.