Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) in-laws have ordered 10 massive cargo ships from the Chinese government since the senator’s wife Elaine Chao became Secretary of Transportation. The deep financial ties between the Chao family’s shipping business Foremost Group and the Chinese regime were first revealed in the #1 New York Times bestseller Secret Empires.
Foremost Group, which is owned by Sec. Elaine Chao’s father and Sen. McConnell’s father-in-law James S.C. Chao, signed contracts with a subsidiary of the state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) for four bulk cargo ships in June and September 2017. In December 2017, Chao’s company signed another contract with state-owned CSSC at Foremost’s New York office for two massive 210,000-ton ships. James S.C. Chao and two of Elaine’s sisters were in attendance. So, too, was the Consul General of China in New York, as well as representatives from the CSSC. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Then on January 31, 2018, Foremost Group ordered four more 210,000-ton ships from CSSC. Angela Chao, sister to Sec. Elaine Chao and Foremost’s Deputy Chairman, said she expects cooperation between the two entities to extend into the future. In January 2017, Angela Chao joined the board of the state-owned Bank of China.
The finances of Sec. Elaine Chao and her husband, Sen. Mitch McConnell, are closely tied to the Foremost Group. In 2008, James Chao gave a $5 million-$25 million “gift” to Sen. McConnell, more than tripling his net worth. Contracts with other Chinese state-owned enterprises make up a significant portion of Foremost’s business. James and Angela Chao previously served on the board of CSSC Holdings, a major contractor for the Chinese military and a key supporter of the PLA Navy.
Despite increasing threats of a trade war between the Trump Administration and the Chinese government, the Chao family’s ties to the Chinese government do not seem to have cooled. To the contrary, as the 10-ship order suggests, they have accelerated. Moreover, James Chao was recently in China for an event promoting his new Chinese-language biography. The event was sponsored by Xinhua, the Chinese state-owned media outlet, and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), a branch of the Communist Party known to be active in foreign influence operations. Sponsors praised James Chao as a great promoter of China abroad, referring to him as “vanguard of China-US exchanges.” (Read more from “Despicable Corruption: McConnell’s Wife Becomes Transpo Secretary, Family Starts Buying Massive Chinese Ships” HERE)