U.S. Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana on Tuesday asked the city of Carmel to withdraw from a sister-city agreement with a Chinese municipality and to refuse trips organized by groups linked to China’s ruling party.
His letter came after a Washington Post report detailing China’s renewed focus on diplomacy with local U.S. leaders featured a trip former Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard took to China. During that tour, Brainard signed a sister-city agreement with Xiangyang.
Brainard left the mayoral post this month after 30 years in office. Mayor Sue Finkam, also a Republican, won the race to succeed him.
“China has successfully leveraged sister-city agreements to force American and foreign politicians to endorse its one-China policy and to oppose policies that could harm China,” Banks wrote. The policy asserts that Taiwan, governed by an opposing party, is part of China.
Banks is a member of the U.S. House’s Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, which he said is “leading Congress’s efforts to combat China’s illicit influence in our country.
“I am committed to fighting this influence in Indiana and other states … You have a golden opportunity to play a crucial part in these efforts and undo others’ mistakes by disentangling Carmel from the Chinese Communist Party,” Banks told Finkam.
At a select committee meeting on Tuesday, Banks said former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned local officials of accepting gifts.
“When the Chinese Communist Party shows up at your school and offers a free swing set, it is not because they care about the health of your children … In the end, it is about them, not us,” Pompeo said. “… This is an effort at every level for the Chinese Communist Party to have the capacity to influence our government. The Chinese
Communist Party is truly evil.”
Finkam’s administration didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Banks said “Carmel has a great opportunity to turn the page and hopefully lead the way by becoming the first of many Indiana cities to distance itself from the Chinese Communist Party by dropping its sister city agreement.”
The congressman also raised concerns about sister city agreements with Chinese cities in 2021.
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