Chinese Infiltration of the Lone Star State

China’s growing influence in the US is noticeable to anyone who doesn’t ignore it, but what is even more concerning is China’s growing influence in our very own state of Texas.

Sun Guangxin, a Chinese billionaire connected to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), planned to build a wind farm on the 15,000 acres he owns in Val Verde County. In total Sun owns more than 144,000 acres of land, all of which is not only near the Texas border, but also Laughlin air force base. 

In June 2021, Governor Abbott signed the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act which prevented Sun, and anyone else connected to countries like China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea, from building critical infrastructure in Texas. However, the law does not do enough to protect Texas from foreign adversaries who use their financial resources to infiltrate Texas’ borders. Despite Abbot blocking Sun from building his wind farm, he still owns the land and could use it for other malignant purposes. 

Texas leads the nation in foreign-owned land with 4.4 million acres, which is more by far than any other state. Six states actually ban foreign ownership of farmland, but Texas still allows it. In Houston, Chinese investors are buying up homes not to live in the US, but to make money off Americans by renting out the properties.

Sun is not the only businessman or business connected to the CCP who is currently operating in Texas. There are many, and each one represents a potential national security risk to not only the Lone Star state, but to the country. 

DJI Technology Co. Ltd, a Hong Kong-based drone manufacturing company, has been under heavy scrutiny recently for the security risks its drones pose due to the company’s closeness to the CCP. China Chengtong Holdings Group Ltd, a state-owned enterprise, described DJI as China’s leading company that “adheres to the standard of Xi Jinping’s socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.”

DJI has sold its wares to many companies, local agencies, and even Federal agencies. During the tail-end of the Trump Administration, Washington made it a priority to mitigate the dangers that Chinese drones pose in the US. The U.S. Commerce Department added DJI to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist in December 2020, and in January 2021 Trump signed an executive order prioritizing their removal from service. 

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office operates four DJI drones as of 2018, according to data compiled by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College. Across Texas 42 police departments use a total of 73 DJI drones.  

In addition to the business sector in Texas, the CCP has also tried to infiltrate our education system. In one of the CCP’s boldest moves in Texas, it attempted to use a Hong Kong foundation to fund the University of Texas’ China Public Policy Center (CPPC). 

The Center opened in Aug. 2018 and was tasked with making “fresh and enduring contributions to the study of China-related policy topics while advancing U.S.-China relations and Texas-China relations.” Former foreign service officer David Firestein, who proposed that the Hong Kong-based foundation China United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) funds the Center, currently leads the CPPC. The CUSEF’s leader is Tung Chee-hwa who is vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a united front organisation. United front groups are the primary agents used by the CCP for foreign influence operations, with hundreds of United Front and United Front linked groups operating in the US.

Luckily Senator Ted Cruz and the White House pressured UT not to accept the funding, but the fact that a major state university was about to fund a Chinese research institution using a CCP front organization’s money shows how much influence China has already seized in the US and in Texas.

Some dramatic acts were taken by the Trump administration to combat Chinese intelligence operations in the US. The Chinese consulate in Houston was a hotbed for spies and the theft of intellectual property by CCP agents before Trump closed it down in July 2020. This action led to frenzied scenes of consulate workers burning huge amounts of classified documents to prevent the US from getting access to them. 

Policymakers in Austin and Washington, DC must make combatting Chinese influence in America a priority, especially as China continues to increase its aggressive threats towards Taiwan, and continues to oppress Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. Congressman Chip Roy has been vocal about this issue, and his Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act would have prevented members of the CCP from buying US farmland. Even these efforts, had they been successful, would not be enough. Most of the influence China has gained in the US has been indirect through front organizations. The CCP now has allies in every layer of the US echelons of power. We must remain vigilant and on the offensive against the influence they have accrued. 

We welcomed Chinese capital into the US for decades for cheaper and cheaper trinkets made with Chinese labor, all in the hope that as a developed nation it would have to democratize. We bet wrong, and it is time to face that fact and reverse course before it is too late. We must begin decoupling, limiting Chinese investments coming into America, and bring manufacturing back from China to the US. China is now a threat to the US and we must treat it as such. Hopefully the current administration will have the backbone to do so, and we must call on our government to protect American citizens and infrastructure from foreign dangers. 

CCP Delenda Est

The Darsch Report: March 8 to 14

San Antonio Restaurant Vandalized

Early Mar. 14,  a San Antonio man’s ramen restaurant was vandalized with anti-Asian slurs and death threats following a CNN interview in which the man spoke out against Gov. Greg Abbott’s rollback of the mask requirement in Texas.

After the interview, Mike Nguyen, owner of Noodle Tree, was prepared for plenty of online hate comments but not for something like this.

“I’m still a little shocked that this would actually happen,” Nguyen said Sunday. “When I got here, that’s when it actually sunk in.”

Nguyen moved to San Antonio 5 years ago and started off with a food truck that eventually turned into a restaurant staple of UTSA Boulevard. He has made headlines before for refusing to open his business despite loosening COVID-19 restrictions because as he says the “money was not worth losing lives over.”

Nguyen, who is currently battling lymphoma, lost his grandmother recently after she contracted COVID-19 and he refuses to put any of his customers or employees at risk.

Nguyen says he believes that the Governor’s decision to repeal the mask mandate hurts business owners who now have to bear the burden of enforcing rules and the backlash that may follow.

“I will say that the governor doesn’t have us Texans’ interest at play at this point. I think it’s more of a personal interest,” Nguyen said Wednesday on CNN. “I think the decision to drop the mask mandate is selfish and cowardly, and there’s no reason to do it.”

Crisis at The Texan Border and FEMA Deployed

According to the Daily Mail, ICE is requesting additional personnel to be deployed to the US-Mexico border as a south Texas migrant complex is seven times overcapacity and reports are surfacing of children being forced to sleep on floors of detention centers. 

More than 3,500 unaccompanied teens and children have been held in Customs Border Patrol (CBP) detention centers with reports that many are spending an average of 108 hours in the facilities when they are only allowed to be there for 72 hours. 

Children at one facility in south Texas were reportedly going hungry and were only able to shower once every seven days as the center was at 729% of its legal capacity.

In response to the crisis, the Biden administration is mobilizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help take some of the pressure off of CBP, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Saturday evening.

The FEMA deployment will support what DHS called a 90-day government-wide effort at the border, where the Biden administration is struggling to care for a record number of minors arriving without their parents.

“The federal government is responding to the arrival of record numbers of individuals, including unaccompanied children, at the southwest border,” DHS said in a statement.

Soon after taking office, the Biden Administration quickly ended many of the Trump administration’s border policies put in place to deter illegal immigration and has relaunched the Obama-era policy of “Catch and Release.” However, the administration has not responded to questions concerning why they did not anticipate or better prepare for the unprecedented surge that has occurred since then in the Rio Grande Valley.

AstraZeneca Vaccine

As early as this month or early April, AstraZeneca will be filing for U.S. emergency use authorization (EUA) for its COVID-19 vaccine according to sources who informed Reuters on Friday. This vaccine has already been authorized for use in the European Union and many countries but not yet by U.S. regulators.

The British drugmaker completed enrollment in its trial of more than 32,000 volunteers in January and now has data on at least 150 cases of Covid-19, two sources familiar with the trial told Reuters.

“The U.S. Phase III study results are necessary for the FDA’s evaluation of an EUA request for our vaccine,” a company spokeswoman said, without confirming trial details being reported by Reuters. “We expect data from our U.S. Phase III trial to be available soon, in the coming weeks, and we plan to file for emergency use authorization shortly thereafter.”

There are safety concerns, however, regarding reports of serious blood clots in some vaccine recipients that have led several nations to pause administering the vaccine.

AstraZeneca is defending the vaccine, saying in a Sunday statement that more than 17 million doses have been administered in Europe and U.K., with no evidence that the shot increased the risk of blood clots.

The number of blood-clotting events are lower than what would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of that size, AstraZeneca’s Chief Medical Officer Ann Taylor said. In studies, participants getting the vaccine had fewer clots than those given placebo.

The UK Takes a Stand to China?

At the end of February, the Hong Kong government charged 47 democracy activists and protestors under a new national security law that prohibits “conspiracy to commit subversion.” The law criminalizes four types of activity: secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, and collusion with foreign entities. In practice, it severely curtails whatever autonomy that Hong Kong had previously enjoyed under Chinese rule.

Many of those arrested were Hong Kong’s most vocal democracy activists and if convicted could face up to life in prison.

In response, the UK government sent out a press release on Mar. 13 stating that China is in “a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

“Beijing’s decision to impose radical changes to restrict participation in Hong Kong’s electoral system constitutes a further clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in the statement.

The statement does not indicate what actions the United Kingdom will take against the People’s Republic but does come a day after a joint statement from the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., the U.S., and the European Union denouncing the undermining of Hong Kong’s autonomy by the Chinese government.

The US Economy

Over the course of the past week, the US stock market has been doing very well. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by +976.20 points, +3.07%, and closed at a record high on Friday, March 12th, of 32,778.64. The S&P 500 Index, not wanting to be outdone but just barely falling short, increased by +121.99 points, +3.19%, over the course of the week and closed at a new record high of 3,943.34 on Friday. The NASDAQ, having been on a decline over the past month made, increased to 13,319.86 making a remarkable gain of +710.71 points, +5.64%, but still way below its Feb 12th high of 14,095.47.

Gas prices in the US also continue to see rapid price increases with the current national average according to AAA at $2.859 for a gallon of regular gas. This is a near 10 cents, ~3.2%, increase over last week’s average of $2.768 and a 35 cents, ~14%, increase over the national average from a month ago. This is likely due to a combination of three factors all at once; Saudi Arabia cutting oil production in February, increasing gas and oil demand as more vaccinations are leading to more people traveling, and Biden canceling the Keystone pipeline which would have allowed for more domestic oil refining.

New Covid Relief Bill

On Thurs., Mar. 11, President Joe Biden signed a new covid relief bill totaling $1.9 trillion in spending.

In the plan are some major spending changes, including:

  • Extending a $300 per week jobless aid supplement and programs making millions more people eligible for unemployment insurance until Sept. 6
  • $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans and their dependents with checks starting to phase out at $75,000 in income for individuals and are capped at people who make $80,000. However, these checks are not protected from debt-collection agencies.
  • Expanding the child tax credit for one year and increasing it to $3,600 for children under 6 and to $3,000 for kids between 6 and 17.
  • $350 billion in relief to state, local and tribal governments and more than $120 billion to K-12 schools.

The bill passed the House by a 220-211 margin without a Republican vote and Democrats also approved the plan on their own in the Senate through the special budget reconciliation process.

Biden celebrated the passing of the bill in a Wednesday statement stating “This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance.”

Republicans are arguing though that with this massive increase in spending we may see rising inflation, especially with an economy on the road to recovery with vaccines rolling out and many states now reopening.

“There is a real risk here, of this kind of massive stimulus overheating the economy. … I just think it’s sad because we could’ve done, I think something much more targeted and focused on Covid-19,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told CNBC on Wednesday morning.

Texas Tax-Payer Funded Lobbying

As of Mon., Mar. 15, there are 77 days left in the Texas legislative session, and 10 Texas State Senators, led by State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–7), chair of the Local Government Committee, have joint authored Senate Bill 10 to stop Texas cities’ and counties’ use of public funds to lobby the state Legislature.

SB 10 joint authors include State Sens. Brian Birdwell (R-22), Donna Campbell (R-25), Charles Creighton (R-4), Bob Hall (R-2), Kelly Hancock (R-9), Bryan Hughes (R-1), Angela Paxton (R-8), Charles Perry (R-28), and Drew Springer (R-30).

“Taxpayer-funded lobbying diverts funding from local governments’ ability to provide local needs and results in money being used to advocate for policies not always in Texans’ best interest,” said Bettencourt. “The Texas Ethics Commission data showed that an estimated $32 million was spent on lobbyist compensation in 2018, a non-session year. We can’t have tax dollars being used to advocate for greater spending, more taxing authority, and increased regulatory power at the local government level without taxpayers’ consent.”

SB 10 does not prohibit city or county elected officials, officers, or employees from providing information to members of the Legislature, appearing before committee hearings at the request of a member, or advocating on legislation while acting in their official capacities.

The vast majority of Texans support this policy, and it is a legislative priority for Texan Republicans and conservative groups like the Young Conservatives of Texas. Because of staunch support for the policy, it has a high chance of passing the Senate. But it could also end up like similar legislation from the last session that was proposed and passed in the State Senate but was ultimately voted down in the House.

CPS Energy vs San Antonio Family

Following the death of San Antonio resident Esequiel Mendoza during the February winter storm, the man’s family is suing CPS Energy over his death.

The wrongful death suit, filed Mon., Mar. 8, in the 166th District Court, accused the San Antonio utility company of negligence that caused his death.

In the week before his death, Mendoza was not able to receive his usual life-saving dialysis treatment due to controlled outages imposed by CPS Energy at the request of the state grid, which is run by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Instead of receiving between four and five hours of treatment, Mendoza only received two, according to the lawsuit.

It is at least the second wrongful death suit filed against CPS Energy related to the winter storm. The first lawsuit was brought by the husband of a woman who is believed to have died of hypothermia.

According to the lawsuit, the family is seeking financial compensation for their loss, and as of Friday morning, attorneys for CPS Energy declined to address the pending litigation.

“Unfortunately, these types of deaths require a thorough investigation into the relevant environmental conditions as well as assessment of the individual’s underlying health conditions, often including additional laboratory testing,” according to a statement from the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office. “Therefore, these deaths take several weeks to adequately investigate and determine. Thus, the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office does not currently have an accurate count of these types of deaths and may not for some time.”

The Darsch Report: Sept. 2 – 8

San Antonio’s Hoarding Task Force

In San Antonio, all four fire deaths this year have involved hoarding, something that the San Antonio Fire Department plans to tackle. During a recent budget meeting with the city council members, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood announced that the SAFD is working with other city departments to form a Hoarding Task Force that will help identify people in hoarding situations.

“We had a 49-year-old man die in a hoarder home,” Hood said. “It should have never happened.”

Hood would further explain to the council that because of the hoarding, it not only made it difficult for those inside the building to escape, but it also made it difficult for firefighters to enter.

“It makes it impossible for us to get in because the fuel load is so heavy,” Hood said. “Usually by the time we get there it is in a situation or in a state where no one would survive that fire.”

Hood said he hopes to have the task force up and running by 2020. The chief said that he wants to ensure that help and resources are available to people who are in dangerous hoarding circumstances.

“We all know someone like this,” Hood said. “So how can we identify them, and how can we help them put order in their living environment and ensure a safer house for them?”

Gov Abbott vs. Gun Violence

Despite efforts by many conservatives in the state legislature to stop talk of increased gun control, Governor Greg Abbott announced on Twitter on Wednesday, Sept. 4 that he would be taking executive action on the issue. The next day, Gov Abbott released a list of eight executive actions being taken to prevent gun violence with most having to do with reporting suspicious behavior.

Democratic legislators have also been putting out their proposals, holding press conferences on the issue and even demanding a special legislative session on gun control. The most high-profile of these Democrat proposals are so-called “red-flag” laws, in which guns could be confiscated without due process from those suspected to have mental health issues.

Second Amendment groups have already indicated that they are willing to put a fight if need be.

“Any solution that aims to take away more guns from more people is counterproductive. Gun-control laws don’t reduce crime. They don’t keep criminals from committing evil, despicable acts. And they certainly haven’t kept us safe,” Rachel Malone, the Texas director of Gun Owners of America said during a recent press conference.

With conservatives and gun owners beginning to line up against Abbott and Democrats on gun control, the governor and Texas legislatures should work with gun owners to find a solution that makes Texan communities safer while protecting their rights.

StemExpress CEO Admits to Selling Aborted Baby Parts

On Thursday, Sept. 5 StemExpress CEO, Cate Dyer, told a San Francisco courtroom that the company brokered beating fetal hearts and intact fetal heads to medical researchers.

The admission comes during court proceedings of Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against investigators David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, who allegedly illegally filmed top executives and clinicians from Planned Parenthood who admitted to brokering aborted baby parts.

Daleiden and Merritt are part of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), a group of citizen journalists “dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances.” 

Some staff of Planned Parenthood Northern California are already under oath testifying that they “provided fetal tissue from the abortions she did at Planned Parenthood as a regular occurrence,” according to a summary of court proceedings, “[and] when asked if she had ever heard of StemExpress, Doe 7 said she had heard of cases in which StemExpress was involved and money was exchanged.”

Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, who is representing Daleiden at the court, told Life Site News that’s StemExpress CEO’s admission is “gruesome.”

“If you have a fetus with an intact head and an intact body, and intact extremities, that is something that would indicate that child was born alive, and then had their organs cut out of them, or that that child was the victim of an illegal partial-birth abortion,” he said.

StemExpress and Planned Parenthood Northern California are currently the subject of investigations by the FBI and Department of Justice “for selling fetal organs and tissue against the law,” CMP said in a summary.

US Economy

The stock market did fairly well this week had is approaching near-record highs. The Dow Jones increased to 26,797.46 on Thursday, increasing by +435.21 points, or +1.65 percent over its August 29 close of 26,362.25. The S&P 500 increased by +52.25 points or +1.79 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq increased on Thursday by +1.76 percent.

Friday was also the release date for the August US jobs report during which the US stayed on par with Wall Street estimates.

  • Average hourly earnings increased by 0.4 percent in August and 3.2% over the year, better than expected.
  • The labor force participation rate increased to 63.2 percent, tying its highest level since August 2013.

Hong Kong’s Freedoms Are at Risk

In Hong Kong, protestors continue to march in the street against China’s efforts to increase control over the Special Administrative Region, demanding true democracy and autonomy from Beijing.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, thousands of protestors marched on the US consulate singing the Star-Spangled Banner, waving American flags and calling on President Trump to “liberate” their city.

“Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” many shouted before handing over petitions at the U.S. Consulate, “resist Beijing, liberate Hong Kong.”

Over a thousand arrests of demonstrators have been made over the past five months with an additional 2,100 injuries being reported. This coincides with reports from protestors that the Chinese and Hong Kong government are working with Chinese gangs to attack protestors as well as police pretending to be protestors during marches, accusations that the Hong Kong and Chinese governments deny.

In Hong Kong, we are also seeing censorship of the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) by the Hong Kong government. VPN provider Private Internet Access (PIA) has reported that its service has been blocked in the country

According to PIA, users in Hong Kong are either blocked from connecting to the PIA service outright or are allowed to connect but then prevented from accessing any websites.

 In support of Hong Kong, many protestors and congressmen are urging the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would protect Hong Kong autonomy as well as “establish punitive measures against government officials in Hong Kong or mainland China who are responsible for suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong, especially in connection with the abduction of certain booksellers.”

To continue standing as the bastion of such values as freedom and democracy that we claim to hold, we need to be the America that the people of Hong Kong believe in.

Trump Cancels Peace Talks

On Saturday evening, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to make an announcement about developments in the war in Afghanistan.

In the series of Tweets, Trump stated that he had planned on having a secret meeting with the President of Afghanistan and major Taliban leaders while at Camp David to work on facilitating peace in the war-torn country.

  However, Trump ended talks once damning information came to light. “In order to build false leverage, [the Taliban] admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people,” Trump tweeted.

“What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they only made it worse… How many more decades are they willing to fight?” he declared.

On Sunday, after their negotiating team held an emergency internal meeting in Doha, the Taliban said Trump’s decision to cancel the talks would only have consequences for the United States.

“More than anyone else, the loss will be for the United States–their standing will be hurt, their anti-peace position will be clearer to the world, their human and treasure loss will increase, and their political actions will come across as unstable,” the Taliban said. “Twenty years ago, too, we had called for understanding, and this remains our position today.”

After the talks were called off, the Afghan government blamed the Taliban, saying that the violence was making the peace process difficult.

Bill Flores is Retiring

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, the Republican congressman for Texas’s 17th congressional district, Bill Flores, announced that he will be retiring at the end of his term.

Flores marks the fifth Texas Republican congressman and twelfth Republican congressman to announce retirement in 2020.

Despite being in a district that President Trump won with 56% of the vote, Flores has committed to retiring and eventually being able to spend more time with his family.

In a statement, Flores said that he plans to return to the private sector, where he had previously worked as an oil and gas executive. He also said that he would focus on a number of issues in his remaining time in Congress, including securing the border, removing “the uncertainty related to the ‘Dreamers,’ helping pass the United States, Mexico, and Canada Agreement and paving the way for “the accelerated deployment of 5G technologies.”

In an election cycle where Democrats plan to expand their House majority and perhaps even take the Senate, Republicans will need to step up efforts to get conservatives, Trump voters and independents out to vote.