Exclusive: CCP Front Group Has Chapters Inside U.S. Government Agencies & U.S. Army Base
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
The Chinese Student and Scholars Association (CSSA), an organization of the Chinese Communist Party's United Front Department, operates chapters within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and on the campus of the U.S. Army's Fort Detrick.
With all of the news in the last several years about Chinese Communist Party infiltration of American institutions, you'd think with 18 official intelligence agencies, the federal government might try to prevent official CCP organizations from operating within U.S. Government agencies, but you'd be wrong. Intrepid Research has discovered that at least two agencies have had active chapters of the CCP-sponsored Chinese Student and Scholars Association openly operating within their ranks for years and years.
When Mike Pompeo was Secretary of State, he spoke to the National Governors Association about the China threat. He said "the long arm of Beijing...often reaches out via groups like the Chinese Students and Scholars Association."
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Chen Yonglin, a former Chinese diplomat who defected to Australia in 2005 said, “Almost all of the Chinese student associations in Australia, the United States, and Canada are established by the Ministry of Education of China.”
A 2018 staff report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission entitled, China’s Overseas United Front Work: Background and Implications for the United States, states:
Despite the useful social services CSSAs provide for their members, they receive guidance from the CCP through Chinese embassies and consulates—governmental ties CSSAs frequently attempt to conceal—and are active in carrying out overseas Chinese work consistent with Beijing’s United Front strategy. Journalists and activists have also shown CSSAs to routinely coordinate with the Chinese government and to have been involved in the suppression of free speech and the harassment, intimidation, and surveillance of Chinese student activists. [...] According to a former U.S. intelligence official, Chinese intelligence officers posted in diplomatic facilities are the primary point of contact for CSSA members; in multiple cases, CSSA members have reportedly cooperated directly with Chinese security personnel outside of China.
An article from the Foreign Policy Research Institute calls CSSAs a "major conduit for transmitting the Beijing government’s policies."
Per NIH.gov, "The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency." It is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Their website states: "From the smart electric power grid and electronic health records to atomic clocks, advanced nanomaterials, and computer chips, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement, and standards provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology."
Both the NIH and NIST host chapters of the Chinese Student and Scholars Association within their employee community. The NIH CSSA and the NIST CSSA both have publicly accessible Facebook pages (which appear to be currently inactive). The NIH CSSA FB page has over 1,000 followers. Previous message boards and websites for the group indicated they've had around 1,000 members for a number of years.
Periodically, these groups will host joint events and social functions. In 2011, the NIH CSSA held an event with the American University CSSA from DC. According to their Facebook page, "The Chinese Students and Scholars Association at American University is a nonprofit student run organization officially recognized by the Chinese Embassy [emphasis added]," whatever that means. Other groups NIH CSSA has partnered with are the Chinese Scholars Association of Frederick, Maryland (believed to be a branch of the NIH CSSA), NIST CSSA, the DC Hiking Club, the Chinese Biopharmaceutical Association, and others.
The NIH group, however, does appear to have official agency sanction. The 2021 NIH Advanced Trainee Handbook for fellows and graduate students lists the organization under the section "Finding An NIH Community." It reads:
CHINESE STUDENTS AND SCHOLARS ASSOCIATION (CSSA) AT THE NIH
The CSSA at NIH takes as its primary mission facilitating communication and interaction among Chinese students, scholars, and local Chinese communities. The CSSA helps members of the Chinese community balance family life and work. Getting together outdoors helps relieve the stress of work, and being linked to a Chinese community helps members’ children learn more about their Chinese identity. Networking with colleagues and peers benefits both research and the development of members’ careers. The CSSA is meant to serve all people interested in the wellbeing of Chinese fellows at the NIH. We can be reached at CSSA.NIH@gmail.com.
The organization, previously called the Chinese Scholars Association at NIH, has existed since at least 1996, according to an internet archive of their chapter website.
Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas told The Epoch Times, “Typically, what happens when the CSSA or somebody who has graduated from the CSSA does something, they’re doing it at the request of the Chinese government, and often there is money involved.”
Alex Joske, an analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute told Australia's ABC News, "[Universities have] let groups like the CSSA grow and expand on campuses, build their influence, build their resourcing, and essentially that gives the Chinese Government a channel straight into the lives of Chinese students even when they're outside China's borders."
Intrepid Research has looked into a few of the NIH CSSA alumni. The President of the chapter in 2004 was Bo Jin. According to Bo Jin's LinkedIn profile, he now works as a clinical professor and physician at the 309th Hospital of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Beijing. Another chapter president (in 2008-2009), Yizhou Ye, currently works as a Fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD while also serving as Program Director for a company called 3D Medicines in Shanghai, China, according to her LinkedIn profile. The 2016 NIH CSSA Chair, Chunshan Deng, is back in China as the Deputy General Manager of the Brain Science Infrastructure Project at the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
This investigation has sparked numerous questions, but the most pressing would seem to be why is an official arm of the Chinese Communist Party allowed to operate within two U.S. Government agencies? Anyone? The foreign infiltration and the domestic indifference are equally alarming. The potential for intellectual property theft, espionage and/or sabotage is concerning as well.
Our research has indicated that there is a branch of the NIH-CSSA at the National Cancer Institute (NCI, which is part of NIH) at their campus in Frederick, Maryland. A banner for the Chinese Scholar Association of Frederick, Maryland can be seen in photos and video of a social event hosted by several Chinese organizations based in the DC area. References to NCI-Frederick appear on the event invitations. Of note, NCI's campus is housed within the perimeter of U.S. Army Base Fort Detrick.
In addition to the National Cancer Institute (Frederick Campus), Fort Detrick is home to the following units and tenants:
U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command
Air Force Medical Evaluation Support Activity
Air Force Medical Operations Agency
Barquist Army Health Clinic
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs
Medical Communications For Combat Casualty Care Resources
Network Enterprise Center
National Interagency Confederation For Biological Research
Navy Medical Logistics Command
6th Medical Logistics Management Center (^MLMC)
Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic
302d Signal Battalion
21st Signal Brigade
So, here we have a Chinese Communist Party United Front organization operating not only within U.S. government agencies, but on the grounds of an American Army base. A message discovered on an archived internet listserv indicates that the Chinese Scholar Association of Frederick has existed since at least 1997. Does our government even bother with OPSEC anymore?
The concern here is not that people of Chinese ethnicity or descent work at these agencies. The objective in reporting this information here and in all of our stories at Intrepid Research is not to create bias against ordinary Chinese people or Chinese-Americans. The concern in our reporting is with people and organizations sponsored, used, controlled, compromised or infiltrated by the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party. They are the enemies of this country and of humanity, not Chinese people at large. We try to make that clear in our writing, but felt it should be reiterated.
Many of the people who are involved with the organizations listed above are probably just trying to do good work, good research, and enjoy social activities with people with whom they relate. The worry we share is that there may be those among them, under the direction of the CCP, as these organizations are official CCP organizations, that may have ulterior motives or be involved in subversive activities, and that is why we feel it is newsworthy. We will continue to expose CCP activities wherever they are.
Intrepid Research has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to both the NIH and NIST for records relating to their respective CSSA chapters. We are awaiting a response. We have discovered there is a related organization at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the FDA Chinese Association or FDA-Chinese, and we have also filed a Freedom of Information request with the FDA. Intrepid Research will be investigating this further.