EXCLUSIVE: As recently as March 2017, Hunter Biden's private equity firm held a stake in a company run by a Chinese executive with ties to officials at some of the highest levels of the Communist Party of China, according to emails reviewed by FOX Business.
Hunter Biden’s longtime business partner, Eric Schwerin, sent him an email in March 2017 breaking down the ownership interests of Rosemont Seneca Advisors, which included a 5% stake in Harves Amusement Parks and ownership in Harves Sports and Entertainment.
Biden's introduction to the Harves Group came about two years earlier, when Francis Person, who served as an adviser to then-Vice President Biden from 2009 to 2014 and was a "special assistant" to Biden in the Senate, sent an email to Hunter Biden in July 2015 inviting him to China the following month to meet his business partner, Bo Zhang, and his family.
"Bo Zhang and his family would host us. They are a great family with great respect and relationships in China. Bo graduated from American Univ and is in his late 20’s, and his parents own Harves Century Group of Shenyang - which is a top tier private chinese real estate development firm," Person wrote. "His mom is actually the Chairman of the company, which is unique in China. They are very private, and wouldn’t tell anyone about you coming. Bo's father-in-law is actually the Governor of Hainan (Chinese Hawaii), which he doesn’t advertise at all."
Harves Century Group, which has backing from the state-owned China Development Bank, is headquartered in Shenyang, China, and is the parent company of multiple U.S.-based Harves affiliates, including Harves Investment Group (HIG), Harves Global Entertainment, and Harves Sports. Harves Century's website says the chairwoman is Jenglan Shao, which is revealed to be Zhang's mother according to Person's 2015 email to Hunter Biden. It is unclear what her background is or whether she is an American citizen, but her name comes up on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website as a maxed-out donor to Person's failed 2016 campaign against then-Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C. Zhang also was a maxed-out donor to Person’s campaign. Schwerin and Hunter Biden both donated $2,700.
Person's email went on to say that Zhang is "being groomed to take over his family’s dynasty" and that the trip wasn’t about selling Biden on anything, but more about "grow[ing] that relationship," adding that "there will be plenty of big things that come down the road that we can work on." Person added that Harves was partnering with NBA stars Magic Johnson and LeBron James in 2016 to "host an NBA Global Game in China."
The longtime Biden aide, who traveled with Vice President Biden to 49 of the 50 countries he visited through mid-2014, including China, and was described by then-second lady Jill Biden as "like a son to Joe and me" and someone who "will always be a part of our family," was tapped to be the president of Harves in January 2015, less than six months after he left the White House. According to Linkedin, Person "[h]elped guide the formation of the Harves Group headquartered in Washington DC, serving as the U.S. affiliate of Harves [Century Group]."
It does not appear that Biden was able to make the China trip during the specific week that Person pitched in the email, but multiple emails reviewed by FOX Business show that Person and Zhang met with Biden and Schwerin in Washington on multiple occasions and emailed back-and-forth coordinating potential Harves-related business deals. In one 2016 email, Biden calls Zhang his "good friend and business colleague." One of the names cc'd on the email was James Bulger, who appeared to help Biden get a Chinese business license for his uncle's telemedicine company a couple of years earlier.
One of the emails was from Schwerin to Zhang, Biden, Person, an assistant, and Tara Greco, a former director of communications for the union that represents NBA players. The April 2016 email, which was directed at Zhang, said Greco had learned that the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) had a deal with the NBA to "build NBA branded stadiums around China," but said it appeared the project was "stalled" after only two stadiums were built, prompting Schwerin to say, "If Liaoning can get one of these stadiums that would be a big help in your efforts to get more NBA related content in Liaoning." After listing off several questions he had for Zhang, Schwerin concluded the email by saying they could discuss when they met the following week.
In November 2020, a joint press release announced that Harves was partnering with NBA China, a company that was formed in 2008 to conduct the NBA’s business throughout China and develop NBA-themed entertainment centers. Zhang was quoted in the press release as saying, the centers "furthers our mission to provide best-in-class global entertainment experiences to local populations." In May of this year, the eastern city of Suzhou is expected to open its first experience center. Zhang said, "We hope to grow it into a landmark project in the sports industry."
"As part of the partnership, Harves, plans to open six NBA-themed entertainment centers across China, with the first opening by 2022," the press release said. "These entertainment centers will bring together fans and families to experience the excitement of the NBA through a variety of new activities and offerings, including cutting-edge, interactive digital games, NBA-themed dining and more."
In addition to being the co-founder and CEO of Harves Global Entertainment, Person is the co-founder and CEO of DreamCube Innovations, a company that Fast Company described as an "enticing new technology and brand that’s already signed deals with the NBA as well as with the Manchester United soccer club" that is set up "across China."
"It’s humbling to work with incredibly creative, talented, and passionate people to push technology and immersive experiences to another level," Person wrote on his Facebook, sharing the Fast Company article. "We’re living through tough times, but our future is lined with infinite possibilities."
FOX Business reached out to Person and Zhang to inquire about the relationship between Harves and the Chinese government and whether they have played a role in approving any of their business contracts along with a series of other questions, but neither of them responded. In Person's 2015 email to Hunter Biden, he revealed that Zhang’s father-in-law was the governor of Hainan at the time. A timeline shows that Liu Cigui was the governor in 2015 and according to The Diplomat, Cigui was considered to be a "Xi loyalist."
Cigui went straight to public service at the age of 20 going "through various levels of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organs in Fujian, first via the Communist Youth League and then as spatial party secretaries, eventually of prefecture-level Putian, a coastal city of 2 million along the Xiamen-Quanzhou-Putian-Fuzhou coastal axis," The Diplomat reported. According to China Vitae, Cigui has been a member of the CCP Central Committee, which is the party’s "highest organ of authority," since 2012. Additionally, Liu was a member of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection from 2012 to 2017, which, according to The Washington Post, is "a secretive, powerful agency in charge of investigating the Communist Party’s own members for corruption," was "the main weapon in Xi Jinping’s rapid consolidation of power as China’s new leader."
Another tie that Zhang has to the CCP was revealed in a December 2013 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filing with the Justice Department, listing Zhang as the "Foreign Principal."
"Although the Foreign Principal is a private individual, because of his relationship with a Chinese Government Official, Liu Guoqiang, a Vice Chairman Liaoning Committee of the Chinese People's Political Conservative [sic] Conference (CPPCC) People's Republic of China, the foreign principal proposes to seek assistance from the Registrant [Patton Boggs LLP] to provide Congressional outreach on behalf of the Vice Chairman in relation to setting up meetings with Congressional officials, when the Vice Chairman and his delegation visit the United States which is expected to occur in 2014," the filing reads.
According to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the CPPCC is a "critical coordinating body that brings together representatives of China’s other interest groups and is led by a member of China’s highest-level decision-making authority, the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee." The Diplomat reports that the CPPCC is a "key part" of China’s "United Front" work and that it is "designed to liaise with non-Communist Party members – and ultimately see them work with the CCP to advance its interests" and target prominent figures like athletes, businesspeople, and politicians.
Hunter Biden's attorney and Schwerin did not respond to a series of questions or say whether Hunter still had a stake in Harves.