1992 -1996: Chinagate – John Huang, Mochtar Riady, and James Riady

In Clinton Foundation Timeline by Katie Weddington

Huang and Clinton at White House coffee in 1996. (Credit: public domain)

(…) In 1996, John Huang would raise $3.4 million for the Democratic Party. More than half of this money was returned because some of these donations were foreign.

In 1980John Huang met Mochtar Riady at an event in Little Rock, Arkansas. The featured speaker was then-Governor Bill Clinton. Riady’s son, James, would later hire Huang at one of his companies. At the same time, Huang would serve as a fundraiser for Clinton’s 1992 campaign. He became an expert in fundraising among different Asian-American communities.

Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, (r), and his wife Hillary Clinton, chat with Mochtar Riady, chairman of the Hong Kong Chinese Bank at a reception hosted by Riady, Oct. 7, 1985. Clinton is in Hong Kong for a three-day trade promotion tour. (Credit: Dick Fung/AP)

In late 1993, Clinton appointed Huang to serve as deputy assistant secretary for international economic affairs at the Commerce Department. Huang got a severance package of $750,000 from the Lippo Group (below). In 1995, Clinton recommended him to work at the DNC.

In 1996, approximately $1 million in donations to the Democrats were from people with close ties to the Lippo Group. One of them was Hashim Ning who was a business partner with the Riady family. Hashim sent $500,000 to his daughter Soraya and his son-in-law Arief Wiriadinata. From November 1995 to July 1996, they donated $450,000 to the DNC.

Mochtar Riady was the son of Chinese immigrants who came from modest circumstances and founded the Lippo Group, a conglomerate in real estate, insurance, and banking. By 1996, the company had over $12 billion in assets.

Mochtar had three sons. The youngest was James and he first met Bill Clinton in the late 1970s. He contributed money to Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. The Lippo Group had many projects in China. A peaceful and stable U.S.-China relationship was in the interests of the Lippo Group.

James Riady, Bill Clinton, and Clinton aide, Maria Haley (Credit: VOA-Islam)

In its report in 1998, the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs noted that both Mochtar and James Riady “have had a long-term relationship with a Chinese intelligence agency.” James Riady was also in the Oval Office on September 13, 1995 when Bill Clinton authorized the transfer of Huang to the DNC. In September 1996, James Riady was again in the Oval Office with Clinton lobbying for better trade relations with China.

According to White House logs, James Riady visited the White House 20 times and met with President Clinton on six of those visits. At the time, Clinton’s top aide, Bruce Lindsey, tried to spin that Riady’s visits were social calls. It was only after the election that White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry admitted that the meetings involved substantive conversations, including about American foreign policy in Asia. (Read more: The American Spectator, 10/7/2016) (Archive)