Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, said he “would be happy” to introduce business partners to a senior Chinese official who allegedly sat next to him during a dinner in Beijing, a leaked 2014 email shows.
On July 22, 2014, James Bulger, the nephew of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, wrote an email to Hunter Biden, requesting him to make an introduction of two business partners to a Chinese official called “Mr Tung,” likely referring to Tung Chee-hwa.
Tung, the first chief executive of Hong Kong, served as the vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in 2014. The CPPCC is a political advisory body of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa attends a closing session in Beijing, on March 20, 2018. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
“Jonathan has asked me to please ask you to make an introduction to Mr. Tung,” read the email, first released by Fox News on Sept. 8. “J and Andy are very keen to meet Mr Tung and discuss BHR investment targets as well [as] fundraising.”
“Both of our guys over there believe Mr Tung can be helpful right now,” Bulger wrote.
BHR is a Chinese private equity firm backed by major state financial institutions such as the Bank of China and the China Development Bank Capital. The firm’s chief executive is Jonathan Li, a Chinese banker.
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Hunter Biden was an unpaid board member of BHR until April 2020, according to his lawyer. He held a 10 percent stake in the firm as of last May, according to company records.
One of BHR’s shareholders is Thornton Group, a Boston-based investment advisory firm co-founded by Bulger.
Dinner in Beijing
In the 2014 email, Bulger claimed Hunter Biden was sitting next to Tung at a reception for his father, who served as vice president at that time.
“It is my understanding that during the trip to Beijing that you made with your father, President Xi hosted a welcome dinner, at that dinner, you were seated right next to Mr Tung,” Bulger wrote.
“J and Andy believe it would be very helpful if you could please send a brief email to Mr Tung laying out that you are a partner and Board Member of BHR and that You would be grateful to Mr Tung if he could meet your local partners to discuss the Fund,” he continued.
“Please let me know if you can introduce these two to Mr Tung by email it is very important to our BHR intiative [sic] at this moment.”
In a reply on the same day, Biden said he was happy to satisfy the request, though he can’t remember the name of the two gentlemen sitting next to him at that time.
“Happy to do this,” he wrote, “but I have no email address for Mr. Tung and he very well may have sat next to me but I don’t recall the two gentlemen’s names to my left and right.
“Regardless, I would suggest the team draft an email in Mandarin and English for my approval ASAP.”
Bulger replied later he would reach out to the BHS executives and return “ASAP.”
It’s unclear, however, if any such introduction took place.
The reception appears to be referring to an event that took place during Biden’s official visit to China in December 2013. The younger Biden joined his father on the trip.
Then Vice President Joe Biden waves as he walks out of Air Force Two with his granddaughter, Finnegan Biden (C), and son Hunter Biden (R) upon their arrival in Beijing on Dec. 4, 2013. (Ng Han Guan/AFP via Getty Images)
Biden attended a welcoming ceremony before sitting down with then-vice chairman Li Yuanchao on Dec. 4, 2013, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua.
Tung, who served as CPPCC vice chair at that time, also joined the welcoming event, the report said.
The CPPCC was identified as “the highest-ranking entity overseeing the United Front system,” according to a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report published in 2018.
“The United Front strategy uses a range of methods to influence overseas Chinese communities, foreign governments, and other actors to take actions or adopt positions supportive of Beijing’s preferred policies,” read the report.
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Tung, a Chinese billionaire, was a founder of the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), a Hong Kong-based non-profit organization that has been registered as a “foreign principal” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
FARA filings have revealed that CUSEF organized trips to China for more than 120 journalists from almost 50 U.S. media outlets since 2009, as part of the group’s broader efforts to sway media coverage and shape public opinion in the United States.
In the group’s 2014 annual report, CUSEF published a photo showing Tung shaking hands with Biden, though the location and the date of the photo were not immediately known.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Eva Fu contributed to the report.