Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WSJ Article Mentions Concerns Over Chinese Garden Planned for National Arboretum

Screenshot from the website

A reader sent me a piece from the Wall Street Journal titled "U.S. Warned Jared Kushner About Wendi Deng Murdoch" that has a local link you might not expect. The article is about intelligence community worries regarding a Chinese-American woman (and American citizen) named Wendi Deng Murdoch who is apparently good friends with Kusher and Ivanka Trump. She's also the ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch, and the WSJ cited a source who suggested officials "had concerns about a counterintelligence assessment that [she] was lobbying for a high-profile construction project funded by the Chinese government in Washington, D.C." The article quotes a spokesperson for Ms. Murdoch as saying she "has absolutely no knowledge of any garden projects funded by the Chinese government."

The project of interest is the China Garden planned for the U.S. National Arboretum. The China Garden, which has been in the works since at least 2003, is supposed to occupy 12 of the Arboretum's 446 acres. The misgivings center around the potential for a 70-foot-tall tower, that would be erected as part of the garden, to be used for surveillance. The article says "[t]he project has since been shelved" due to the concerns, but then goes to mention that representatives from both the Chinese Embassy and the USDA (which controls the Arboretum) say the project is still ongoing.

This Washington Post story from spring of 2017 explains more about the plans for the garden, which sounds pretty spectacular. The WaPo article says the National China Garden was expected to boost the number of visitors to the Arboretum by "as much as 40 percent."

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