The involvement of the Communist Party of China (CCP) in India’s information dissemination has been under discussion since the New York Times (NYT) exposed American businessmen. The businessman, Neville Roy Singham, is connected with the Chinese government and provides funding to media outlets based in India and Brazil. He is also accused of funding several news publications worldwide (including India) to peddle Chinese propaganda.
On August 8, the Rajya Sabha MP for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) Mahesh Jethmalani, questioned if CCP’s India operations have a Congress link. In a post on formerly Twitter, he pointed out that Neville Roy Singham, who is at the centre of the NewsClick controversy, served as Chief Technical Officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei from 2001-2008.
He directly questioned the links of Jairam Ramesh and Rahul Gandhi with the CCP during the tenure of Singham as CTO of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
He wrote, “Neville Roy Singham was Chief Technical Officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei from 2001-2008. Huawei is a CCCP and PLA-controlled company. In 2006 Jairam Ramesh published his book CHINDIA in which he first extolled Huawei. His lobbying for that entity’s interests continued at least till during his stint as Environment Minister in UPA 2”
#NevilleRoySingham was Chief Technical Officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei from 2001-2008. Huawei is a CCCP and PLA controlled company. In 2006 #JairamRamesh published his book CHINDIA in which he first extolled Huawei. His lobbying for that entity’s interests continued at…
— Mahesh Jethmalani (@JethmalaniM) August 8, 2023
“Significantly #RahulGandhi too on behalf of the INC signed an MOU in Sonia’s presence with the CCCP in 2008. All this happened during Singhams stint with Huawei. Did either or both of them meet Singham during his employment with Huawei or anytime thereafter? And what were their links? Shouldn’t NIA investigate?” he added.
It is noteworthy that, Huawei is often cited as a company controlled by the Chinese government. It has also been flagged by multiple governments across the world for security issues over its links to the CCP.
The News Click Controversy
In July 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), during an investigation, found that the leftist-propaganda website NewsClick (active in India) received funds from China. The flow of funds was traced to an American millionaire, Neville Roy Singham, who is closely associated with the propaganda arm of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The findings also claimed that the money was transferred to Bappaditya Sinha, a CPM IT Cell executive. The ED observed that some ‘Anti India’ elements were “part of a conspiracy to demean the country and target the ruling Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government”.
Readers may recall the days after the Rafale deal, NewsClick was running anti-government propaganda by spreading lies through their articles. Joining the site were others like Wire, Scroll, Newslaundry, Hindu, AltNews and others.
Almost two years later, the NYT published an investigation report on August 5, 2023. This report claims that the founder of the leftist website NewClick, Neville Roy Singham, is a member of nonprofit groups and shell companies that are funding several news publications worldwide (including India) to peddle Chinese propaganda.
“What is less known, and is hidden amid a tangle of nonprofit groups and shell companies, is that Mr Singham works closely with the Chinese government media machine and is financing its propaganda worldwide,” the article stated.
As per the details available, Singham works closely with the Chinese government media machine and is financing its propaganda worldwide.
From a think tank in Massachusetts to an event space in Manhattan, from a political party in South Africa to news organisations in India and Brazil, The NYT tracked hundreds of millions of dollars to groups linked to Singham that mix progressive advocacy with Chinese government talking points.
“In New Delhi, corporate filings show, Singham’s network financed a news site, NewsClick, that sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points,” The NYT said.
“In New Delhi, corporate filings show, Mr Singham’s network financed a news site, NewsClick, that sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points. “China’s history continues to inspire the working classes,” one video said,” noted the NYT.
“It is part of a lavishly funded influence campaign that defends China and pushes its propaganda. At the centre is a charismatic American millionaire, Neville Roy Singham, who is known as a socialist benefactor of far-left causes,” the NYT said.
Funding to journalists and urban Naxals
The NYT report mentions the name of a website from India as well, the ‘NewsClick’ known for its left propaganda. Notably, in 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) also made similar claims and also seized a sum of Rs 38 crores.
Other than Abhisar Sharma, Rohini Singh, and Swati Chaturvedi, the names of Teesta Setalvad and her family are also linked with the controversy and the money laundering. Newsclick was not just a Chinese Funded propaganda website but also a source of funding for Left activists who work to destabilise India.
As per a viral Twitter thread, Gautam Navlakha, a Left Extremist activist who is allegedly linked with Maoists and is in Jail for violence, fuelling Bhima Koregaon violence also received the money from NewsClick.
The thread also claims that journalist, Paranjouy Guha also received a sum from the organisation to carry out the leftist propaganda, he also wrote a book on Rafale (fighter jets).
The thread also mentions an amount that was given to these journalists and influencers to propagate the Chinese ideology in India. These sums are; Journalist Urmilesh got Rs 22.78 lakhs, Abhisar Sharma got Rs 45.69 lakhs, Paranjoy Guha got Rs 40 lakh, and Gautam Navlakha was paid Rs 20.53 lakhs from NewsClick.
China was funding Teesta Setalvad via NewsClick.
Javed Anand, Husband of Teesta- 12.61 lakh
Tamara, Daughter of Teesta- 10.93 lakh
Jibran, Son of Teesta also got money
Newsclick is not just Chinese Funded propaganda website but also a source of funding Left Activist… pic.twitter.com/oNqpsHUHh5
— Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) August 7, 2023
The illegal funding
The report by NYT reported that hundreds of millions of dollars have been traced to groups linked to Neville Roy Singham that “mix progressive advocacy with Chinese government talking points”.
The NYT untangled the web of charities and shell companies using nonprofit and corporate filings, internal documents and interviews with over two dozen former employees of groups linked to Singham. Some groups, including No Cold War, do not seem to exist as legal entities but are tied to the network through domain registration records and shared organizers.
None of Singham’s nonprofits have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as is required of groups that seek to influence public opinion on behalf of foreign powers. That usually applies to groups taking money or orders from foreign governments. Legal experts said Singham’s network was an unusual case.
At present, Nevilla Singham (69) is in Shanghai. One of his network outlets is co-producing a YouTube show, partly financed by Shanghai’s propaganda department. Two other outlets of the tech mogul are working in close association with a Chinese university to “spread China’s voice to the world.”
In July, Neville Roy Singham attended a Communist Party workshop about promoting the party internationally.
From black to white
The network where Singham worked is built on the back of American nonprofit groups, the NYT said, with its probe revealing the web of charities and shell companies. Some groups, like No Cold War, do not exist as legal entities but are instead tied to Neville Roy Singham’s network through domain registration records and shared organisers.
The report says, “None of Singham’s nonprofits have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as is required of groups that seek to influence public opinion on behalf of foreign powers. That usually applies to groups taking money or orders from foreign governments. Legal experts said Singham’s network was an unusual case.”
While other millionaires and billionaires have their names stamped on nonprofit organisations, Neville Roy Singham chose to conceal his ties to them.
Four non-profit organisations, with names like “United Community Fund” and “Justice and Education Fund, were found to have almost no real-world footprints. Their addresses were listed as UPS store mailboxes in Illinois, Wisconsin and New York. But these four non-profits threw out “a shower of money from an invisible source”.
Singham is not listed as a board member or donor in the public filings by these nonprofits. In fact, he has categorically denied controlling them. “I do not control them,” he said in his statement, “although I have been known to share my opinions.”
The largest of the four nonprofits is run by Singham’s wife, Jodie Evans. The group’s founding bylaws say that Singham can fire Evans and the rest of the board. The bylaws also require that the group dissolve after Singham’s death.
The other three groups have been founded by former Thoughtworks employees, the NYT probe revealed. Thoughtworks is a Chicago-based IT consulting company founded by Singham in the 1980s.
One of them is the Massachusetts-based think tank Tricontinental. Its executive director, Vijay Prashad, recounted Singham’s financing in 2021. “A Marxist with a massive software company!” he wrote on Twitter.
Though Singham claimed that he is not associated with these four organisations, the NYT claimed that he has ties with all of them.
Because American nonprofit groups do not need to disclose individual donors, these four nonprofits worked like a financial geyser, throwing out a shower of money from an invisible source.
The Huawei connection
As per a report of New Lines Magazine published in 2022, Chinese Recruitment platform Boss Zhipin, Singham worked with Huawei from 2011 to 2008 as a strategic technical consultant. While speaking to Fortune Magazine’s senior editor David Kirkpatrick, he profusely praised China. He said, “China is teaching the West that the world is better off with a dual system of both free-market adjustments and long-term planning.”
While Neville Roy Singham’s networks have been accused of having ties to the Chinese government, the tech mogul has denied the charges.
“I categorically deny and repudiate any suggestion that I am a member of, work for, take orders from, or follow instructions of any political party or government or their representatives,” he wrote in an email to the NYT. “I am solely guided by my beliefs, which are my long-held personal views.”
NYT reported, he shares the office with a Chinese media company called Maku Group, which says its goal is to “tell China’s story well,” a term commonly used for foreign propaganda. In a Chinese-language job advertisement, Maku says it produces text, audio and videos for “global networks of popular media and progressive think tanks.”
His associates confirmed Singham’s admiration for Maoism, the Communist ideology that gave rise to modern China. In the past, Singham praised Venezuela under the leftist president Hugo Chávez as a “phenomenally democratic place”, and had said the world could learn from China’s governing approach.
Majdi Haroun, a former employee at Thoughtworks, recalled Singham lecturing him on the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. Haroun said employees sometimes jokingly called each other “comrades.”
Singham funded left-wing causes while at Thoughtworks. He sold the company to a private equity firm in 2017, by which time it had 4,500 employees across 15 countries, including South Africa and Uganda. A copy of the sale agreement put the price at 785 million dollars, the NYT reported.
“I decided that at my age and extreme privilege, the best thing I could do was to give away most of my money in my lifetime,” Neville Roy Singham said in his statement.
On the personal front, Singham’s wife, Jodie Evans, who helped form Code Pink, was once a strident critic of China’s authoritarian government. “We demand China stop brutal repression of their women’s human rights defenders,” she wrote on Twitter in 2015.
But Jodie Evans now voices support for China, casting it as a “defender of the oppressed and a model for economic growth without slavery or war.”
“If the US crushes China,” she said in 2021, it “would cut off hope for the human race and life on Earth
While world leaders and human rights experts have condemned China’s internment of Uyghurs, Evans describes the Uyghurs as terrorists and defends their mass detention. “We have to do something,” she said in 2021.
As per the NYT probe, the Chinese state media accounts have retweeted people and organisations in Singham’s network at least 122 times since February 2020, mostly accounts connected with No Cold War and Code Pink.
Jairam Ramesh’s Chindia
BJP MP Jethmalani Tweeted on January 24, 2023, saying, “Since 2005 #JairamRamesh has been lobbying for Chinese telecom co Huawei’s activities in India (see below excerpts from his book) Huawei has been banned in several countries as a security threat. Jairam now questions GOIs China stand. It behoves him to disclose his Huawei links”
Since 2005 #JairamRamesh has been lobbying for Chinese telecom co Huawei’s activities in India (see below excerpts from his book) Huawei has been banned in several countries as a security threat. Jairam now questions GOIs China stand. It behoves him to disclose his Huawei links. pic.twitter.com/H72w0UQRAB
— Mahesh Jethmalani (@JethmalaniM) January 24, 2023
The screenshot that Jethmalani shared in his post was from Jairam Ramesh’s book that was released in 2005 titled “Making sense of Chindia: Reflections on China and India”.
As per a report by The Hindu, Jairam Ramesh in his book mentioned his interest in China’s history, culture and other aspects. He talked about how competition and confrontations on several occasions did not make India and China natural enemies and discussed in detail how the relationship between India and China can be beneficial. Interestingly, Huawei found its mention four times in the 130-page book.
The 2008 MoU between Congress and CCP
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi signed with the Communist Party of China in 2008 came under fire for allegedly having aims that went well beyond nation-to-nation relations and instead were centred on the individual advancement of the two political parties of nearby nations. The two sides have the “opportunity to consult each other on important bilateral, regional, and international developments” thanks to the memorandum of understanding (MoU).
Rahul Gandhi, the then-Congress general secretary, signed the MoU on behalf of India. It was signed on the Chinese side by none other than Xi Jinping, who at the time was the vice president of China and a member of the CPC’s standing committee.
Sonia Gandhi travelled to Beijing in 2008 with Rahul, Priyanka, and Robert Vadra, her son-in-law.
The emails between NewsClick editors and Singham
The Indian media network Times Now in an exclusive report claimed that Newsclick exchanged communications with the controversial US millionaire Neville Roy Singham, to peddle a Chinese narrative in India. Supporting the allegations Times Now presented some emails.
On January 6, 2021, at 5:09 PM, Singham sent an email to many individuals in which Newsclick Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha was one among those many receivers.
One of the purported emails read, “I think we missed the dotted line between India and China to the (left of Bhutan)”, while seemingly discussing issues about the India-China border dispute. It adds, “Clearly China and India will have to have two maps inside their countries.”
With an attached picture of Arunachal Pradesh on China’s side, the mail replied, “Here is a map from Diplomat where China claims Arunachal Pradesh.”
The other emails exchanged between the two show that, the two were in discussions to show China in a positive light as regards its handling of the coronavirus crisis vis-a-vis India and the United States.
The email exchanges dated March 30, 2020, on China’s handling of COVID-19 between Prabir and Singham were shared by Zee News journalist Sudhir Chaudhary. The copies said, “We are working together on a three-part series of articles on China and the handling of the coronavirus They will be originally syndicated by Globetrotter. Then all three will be assembled into a TriContinental publication. The first is almost done (final editing by Globetrotter),” Singham wrote in an email addressed to his team based out of China, the United States and the NewsClick team in India.
Neville Roy Singham’s email exchanges with Prabir Purkayastha, various journalists and CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat. Mails focus on
1. Defending China’s position on COVID
2. Supporting Farmers Protests in India
3. Collaborating with Indian communists
4. Promoting… pic.twitter.com/7ZrZYXGIap
— Sudhir Chaudhary (@sudhirchaudhary) August 8, 2023