by Michael Bastasch
- Lawmakers opened an investigation into a second U.S.-based environmental group over its ties to the Chinese government
- Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee asked the World Resources Institute to turn over documents
- “WRI leadership regularly interacts with senior Chinese government and Communist party officials and provides public support for Chinese environmental programs,” lawmakers wrote
Congressional Republicans have opened an investigation into a second U.S.-based environmental group over its ties to the Chinese government.
Top Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee asked the World Resources Institute (WRI), an environmental advocacy group, to turn over documents related to its work with Chinese officials and their advocacy in the U.S.
Lawmakers want to know if WRI’s desire to maintain good relations with the Chinese is affecting the group’s U.S. operations and advocacy — effectively making it a foreign agent of the communist government.
“WRI’s desire to maintain access to Chinese officials may influence its political activities in the United States,” Republican Reps. Rob Bishop of Utah and Bruce Westerman of Arkansas wrote in a letter to WRI President Andrew Steer sent Wednesday.
“Given WRI’s close ties to the Chinese government, its emphasis on cultivating contacts with various U.S. officials is particularly disconcerting in light of the government partnerships and environmental initiatives involving WRI during the Obama Administration,” they wrote.
“Since President Trump’s election, WRI political activities have turned to influencing state and municipal governments,” the lawmakers wrote. “In at least one governor’s office, WRI has embedded a senior environmental adviser and appears to exercise a high level of control of the government’s environmental agenda.”
WRI describes itself as a nonprofit “global research organization” that operates in more than 60 countries, including China. WRI played a role in the Paris Agreement negotiations in 2015, and praised China for its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
China’s Paris accord pledge, however, has been criticized by experts who saw it as nothing more than promising to continue current economic trends. WRI opposed President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris accord in 2017, in a statement that also praised China for committing to the climate agreement.
WRI is the second group Bishop and Westerman investigated for ties to China. Lawmakers asked the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) for documents related to its Chinese ties in June.
NRDC has a two-decade relationship with China’s communist government, which it has heaped praise on for its commitment to fighting pollution and global warming. At the same time, NRDC has relentlessly attacked the Trump administration, Bishop and Westerman said in their letter to the group.
Bishop and Westerman said NRDC and WRI activities mirror those laid out in reports on China’s “vast influence machine,” which it uses to shape its global image, including on environmental issues.
WRI has operated in China since 2008, and was issued a registration certificate in 2017 to work under “the guidance and supervision” of the Beijing Public Security Bureau and Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the lawmakers wrote.
“WRI leadership regularly interacts with senior Chinese government and Communist party officials and provides public support for Chinese environmental programs,” Bishop and Westerman wrote. “While WRI criticizes policies of the U.S. government, WRI is silent on Chinese human rights violations such as arrests of environmental protesters and the mass detention of ethnic minorities.”
“On important issues for Chinese leadership, WRI’s position appears to closely reflect China’s goals and objectives,” the two lawmakers added.
WRI did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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