A suspected Chinese spy navigated her way into the inner circle of multiple politicians, including Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, who launched a short-lived campaign for president last year, according to a new report from Axios.
The report Monday, which cited “current and former U.S. intelligence officials and one former elected official” as its sources, said the woman at the center of the intrigue, who went by the names of Fang Fang and Christine Fang, sought to build relationships with emerging political figures.
“Through campaign fundraising, extensive networking, personal charisma, and romantic or sexual relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors, Fang was able to gain proximity to political power,” Axios reported.
According to the report, Fang first connected with Swalwell through the California State University, East Bay’s Chinese Student Association and by 2014 was a so-called bundler for his campaign — a conduit for getting donors to support the candidate.
EXCLUSIVE: A suspected Chinese spy developed extensive ties with local and national US politicians in what officials believe was an operation run by China’s main civilian spy agency from 2011-2015, Axios found in a yearlong investigation. https://t.co/wQUOW8Jpij
— Axios (@axios) December 8, 2020
Axios, which indicated its information about Fang’s connection to Swalwell came from “a Bay Area political operative and a current U.S. intelligence official,” said no campaign finance violations are alleged to have been committed.
However, Fang did assure a connection to Swalwell’s office by having at least one intern inside Swalwell’s office. Fang and Swalwell also interacted at events, the report said.
Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, was a leader of the Democrats’ effort to paint President Donald Trump as a Russian asset, claiming last year that Trump was “working on behalf of the Russians.”
A cloud of suspicion began to form around Fang, and in 2015 the FBI alerted Swalwell to its concerns in what it termed a “defensive briefing,” at which point the congressman severed connections with the suspected Chinese agent.
Swalwell’s office told Axios the congressman had spoken to the FBI about Fang and that he is done talking.
“Rep. Swalwell, long ago, provided information about this person — whom he met more than eight years ago, and whom he hasn’t seen in nearly six years — to the FBI. To protect information that might be classified, he will not participate in your story,” the office said in a statement.
Fang relied upon Swalwell’s need for support among Asian-Americans in his congressional campaign as a way to ingratiate herself with him, Axios reported.
The report said that no information appeared to have been passed to China prior to Fang’s sudden disappearance in 2015 but that her activities illustrate “how a single determined individual, allegedly working for Beijing, can gain access to sensitive U.S. political circles” at a time when “China’s spy services have become more aggressive and emboldened.”
China’s strategy is to build political connections focusing on mayors and city council members who might become governors or members of Congress years down the road, Axios reported.
The report said Fang “engaged in sexual or romantic relationships with at least two mayors of Midwestern cities over a period of about three years.” That included a “sexual encounter with an Ohio mayor in a car that was under electronic FBI surveillance,” it said.
One local politician in California told Axios that Fang “was everywhere.”
Christine Fang was “everywhere,” to quote several people who knew her. She appears in photos with Eric Swalwell, Ro Khanna, Judy Chu, and Mike Honda, and numerous mayors, state assembly members, town council members, staffers, and other prominent politicos. pic.twitter.com/ihSw5Emrwf
— B. Allen-Ebrahimian (@BethanyAllenEbr) December 8, 2020
“She was an active student. I was surprised at how active she was and how she knew so many politicos,” said Raj Salwan, a Fremont City Council member.
The report noted that Fang’s activities did not take place in isolation.
“She was just one of lots of agents,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told Axios.
In July, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China. It’s a threat to our economic security — and by extension, to our national security.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.