President Joe Biden sent the first-ever official government delegation – including high-level Department of Agriculture advisors – to a Chinese Communist Party-run business conference aimed at broadening collaboration of farming and the food supply.
The move comes amidst scrutiny over the Chinese Communist Party’s continued purchasing of farmland across America, with the U.S. government remaining unclear on how sizable the foreign regime’s property portfolio actually is. It also follows the White House quietly establishing an agricultural working group between the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its Chinese Communist Party counterpart.
The China International Import Expo (CIIE) is a trade fair hosted by the Chinese Communist Party’s Ministry of Commerce the Shanghai Municipal Government. Taking place November 5th through November 10th 2023, the White House’s participation in the CIIE was not reported by mainstream media outlets. Nor was it heavily promoted by the White House. The story ran primarily in Chinese state-owned media outlets including China Daily, predominantly with the angle of the White House’s aversion to deocoupling with China. The South China Morning Post first broke the story.
U.S. Ambassador to China Nick Burns and Jason Hafemeister, Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and Trade Counsel to the Agriculture Secretary, were among the federal officials attending the six-day event. They were also joined by Wade Sheppard, the USDA’s senior adviser for North Asia.
In addition to the presence of government officials, the USDA lead a group of 17 exhibitors for the Shanghai expo as part of an official US agricultural product pavilion, pictured below.
Members of the US Meat Export Federation, the US Poultry and Egg Export Council, USA Rice Federation, the Cranberry Marketing Committee, the California Wine Institute and the Almond Board of California were among the pavilion’s exhibitors.
"As the first official US pavilion in CIIE history … [it] will showcase the strength of American products and highlight the rich agricultural trade between the US and China,” said Eric Zheng, president of the American Chamber of Commerce Shanghai.
It marked the first time in the history of the event that the CIIE counted an official U.S. government presence at the CCP-sponsored event. This participation appears to be at odds with many Republican-led efforts to block China’s continued infiltration of America’s farmland and ultimately food supply.
Additionally, the US Heartland China Association, an American non-profit linked to China’s foreign influence operations, also sent a group of mayors from 20 inland US states.
Agriculture officials from the state of Georgia also comprised the USDA delegation, with Herminio Andres Alija, Managing Director of trade for the state of Georgia leading the effort.
As he explained in an interview with a Chinese Communist Party-run media outlet:
On the message that this official U.S. participation sends, Alija said, “I believe that more and more American companies should be coming here to make the American people know that Chinese are our friends, then we can cooperate in many things around everything.”
Ambassador Nick Burns is pictured below attending the event below.