By Jeanette Tong and Jianli Yang

Xi Jinping mentioned during a speech on November 16 that the hope for Sino-American relations lies with the people, resting in particular on the youth, and thrives in local communities. He invited more American governors and legislators, as well as individuals from various sectors in the United States, to visit China. At the same time, he announced that, in order to expand ties between the people of China and the United States, especially among the younger generation, China is willing to invite 50,000 American teenagers to visit China for exchange and learning over the next five years.

Two days later, teenagers from Lincoln High School in Washington state presented a birthday present to Xi’s wife and were extended an invitation to visit China by Li Jingjing, an influencer who amplifies Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda on social media.

The offer of free trips to China has been a longstanding and effective tool in the CCP’s united front strategy.

As Josh Rogin detailed in his book Chaos under Heaven, the CCP has skillfully cultivated the relationship with U.S. congressional staffers of all levels for decades. “The main way this is done is by bringing staffers on lavish trips to China…. Almost any level congressional staff could apply, from staff assistant to press secretary. It amounted to millions of dollars of free gifts.”

Since 2010, the CCP has launched remarkably low-cost travel packages (ranging from $49 to $99) targeting Chinese people who live overseas. The stated goal is to encourage them to witness the country’s development and changes. Simultaneously, this initiative serves as a means to collect information on overseas Chinese, facilitating the identification of potential targets for the national security department. These travel packages include five to eight days of accommodation in five-star hotels, meals, guided tours, and admission tickets to tourist attractions. A significant number of overseas Chinese have taken advantage of these seemingly impossibly cheap tour packages…  [Continue Reading]


This article first appeared in Newsweek on Nov 29, 2023