At least two journalists who worked for Chinese state-controlled media came to the United States as visiting students and became organizers for a progressive activist group behind the “Stop AAPI Hate” movement, running outreach efforts to shape the political opinions of first-generation Chinese-American immigrants in California.
Stop AAPI Hate has been described as a nonprofit that started aggregating hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders after a virus that originated in China began to spread worldwide. But a Daily Wire investigation found that it is tied to longstanding far-left groups that some community members say oppose Asians’ actual interests, including Stop AAPI Hate’s fiscal sponsor, Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA).
The San Francisco-based CAA has advocated for affirmative action in school admissions, a policy that could sharply curtail the number of Asians at rigorous universities. It was part of a campaign coalition that recently pushed a California ballot measure that would have allowed affirmative action. Known as Proposition 16, the proposal was rejected by voters in November 2020, with polling suggesting that Asians played a strong role in the measure’s defeat.
Wenyuan Wu, the executive director of the former “No on Prop 16” campaign, described CAA as “a progressive organization with a mission to promote race-based affirmative action.” According to Wu, “CAA was a front runner” in last year’s campaign to reinstate racial preferences in California.
“Some of its members such as Terry Cui and Jinxia Niu are Chinese citizens with visible ties to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party),” Wu told The Daily Wire. “I have extensive experience dealing with them.”
Wu currently serves as the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation’s executive director, a nonprofit built upon the success of the “No on 16” campaign. She said both Cui and Niu played significant roles in attempting to influence California’s Asian-American vote through WeChat, a popular social media app among people of Asian descent.
More than half of the immigrants who arrived in the Golden State last decade were born in Asia, according to recent data provided by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Niu is currently identified on CAA’s website as its “Chinese Digital Engagement Program Manager.” Although she did not respond to an inquiry from The Daily Wire, CAA press releases have listed her as a media contact, describing Niu as a “Chinese Language Media Specialist.”
Her LinkedIn profile indicates she came to northern California in 2017 as a visiting scholar at Stanford University. It acknowledges Niu previously spent nearly four years as a journalist with Zhejiang Daily Press Group Co., Ltd. That organization has been described by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post as a “state-owned newspaper conglomerate.” Before that, Niu’s page says she had a 20-month stint at the Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation, also controlled by the state.
Although Cui’s name is no longer listed as staff on CAA’s website, a LinkedIn profile under his name indicates he started working for the group last summer, serving as a Chinese Digital Engagement Organizer. CAA did not respond to an inquiry from The Daily Wire seeking clarification of his current employment status. However, its website still features author pages credited to Cui that include articles promoting Proposition 16 and the Stop AAPI Hate initiative.
Also known as Chentao Cui, he purportedly came to America to participate in a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship in Journalism program at Arizona State University (ASU), where he studied from August 2019 through June 2020, around the time he is believed to have started working for CAA. ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, in partnership with the U.S. State Department and the Institute of International Education, “brings accomplished, often award-winning, mid-career professionals from emerging democracies to the United States for an intensive, 10-month academic study and professional experience,” according to the university’s website.
— Sydney Halliwell (@HalliwellSydney) February 5, 2020
Cui’s fellowship bio indicated he had spent the previous seven years working for Beijing’s state broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV). Upon completion of the curriculum, he soon began promoting Proposition 16 to Chinese language community members.
The Daily Wire obtained a CAA job posting from last summer that laid out the responsibilities of the Chinese Digital Engagement Organizer position, which included building and coordinating “progressive Chinese language networks through Wechat Groups, educate and engage communities on public policy issues, and share and help create Chinese language content,” and:
- Establish progressive AAPI digital presence on Wechat to influence Chinese language community engagement on policy and advocacy campaign(s);
- Disseminate CAA assets, CAA-sponsored content, and other relevant campaign material to boost visibility of policy and advocacy efforts on Wechat;
- Outreach, and recruit local partners, stakeholders, and influencers to serve as surrogates of policy and advocacy campaign(s);
- Organize virtual town halls, events, and engagements aimed at public education and mobilization local Chinese language communities on campaign initiatives…
Cui appeared in a live stream debate on Aug. 19, 2020, to argue on behalf of Prop 16. According to Wu, Cui and another CAA member represented “Yes on 16, Opportunity for All Coalition” but had no official titles in the campaign.
“They are the few in CAA that speak Mandarin and CAA was part of the Yes on 16 campaign coalition,” Wu said.
A YouTube video that documented the debate shows Cui in front of a “Yes on 16” backdrop while presenting the campaign’s stance to a predominantly Chinese-speaking audience. Official representatives of “No on 16,” including Wu and statewide finance chair Frank Xu, also took part in that discussion.
The event was sponsored by ICITI TV, a Chinese-language online TV channel based in the U.S. The outlet shares an address outside of Los Angeles with EDI Media Inc. According to a report published by the Hoover Institution in 2018, EDI is a firm which “owns other media properties that toe Beijing’s line,” and “when it comes to reporting on mainland China, the content of all of EDI’s outlets mirrors that of China’s state-owned media.” The company received $478,000 in Paycheck Protection Program loans last year. EDI’s phone number is currently out of service, and the company did not respond to an email from The Daily Wire.
Foreign nationals are prohibited from making financial or in-kind contributions to a ballot measure campaign, but a spokesperson for the California Fair Political Practices Commission said they are not necessarily restricted from participating in other aspects of the political process, emphasizing that an investigation would be required to conclusively determine whether any violations occurred.
Campaign finance records indicate the “Yes on 16” committee made three payments to CAA totaling more than $43,667.68 on Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the election, for “staff time reimbursement.”