A Washington, D.C., consulting company, WestExec Advisors, founded by Joe Biden’s secretary of state nominee, Antony Blinken, has removed from its website all details of its China-related business, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The company had bragged about helping American colleges and universities get donations and grants from China without running afoul of Pentagon rules on doing business with China. That information was scrubbed sometime in the last couple of months.
Biden has tapped Blinken for the role of secretary of state, and several other WestExec executives are being considered for other administration positions. The problem is that none of the principals in the company have agreed to go on record about their dealings with China.
Biden is eyeing Blinken’s WestExec cofounder, the former Pentagon official Michèle Flournoy, as a potential secretary of defense. His nominee to be the intelligence chief, Avril Haines, and incoming press secretary Jen Psaki have also done work for the firm.
Founded in 2017, WestExec boasted of deploying its deep government connections on behalf of its clients, pledging to bring “the situation room to the board room,” and promised first-hand knowledge and government access to clients. The firm has dabbled in an array of consulting work, some of which involves U.S. adversaries such as China and Russia.
WestExec is a heavy-hitting lobbying business with a lot of employees and contacts who apparently aren’t afraid to throw their weight around.
The firm still says on its website that it helps clients navigate “China-related risks in an era of strategic competition” and at one point strongly suggested its principals would lean on their government contacts, helping American universities seeking Chinese money “navigate these issues with the Department of Defense.”
The broad corporate portfolio also raises questions about the Biden nominees’ public comments about China at a time when they were on the payroll of U.S. businesses seeking to expand access there. Blinken, for example, slammed the Trump administration’s foreign policy in a 2017 New York Times op-ed, writing that “Trump Is Ceding Global Leadership to China.”
“While Mr. Trump is obsessed with building walls, [China’s President Xi Jinping] is busy building bridges,” Blinken wrote. That’s an idiotic comparison given Trump was building a wall to stop illegal immigration and Xi’s bridge-building is extremely selective. Perhaps Blinken should talk to Australia about Xi’s construction skills.
Of course, as WestExec has proven, a little “leaning” goes a long way toward building those bridges for China. Just how much in the bag for China is Blinken and Biden? I don’t think President Xi will have to do much building for those two.