Home Venture Capital EXCLUSIVE: The Pentagon Is Paying A Chinese Communist Party-Linked Venture Capital Firm...

EXCLUSIVE: The Pentagon Is Paying A Chinese Communist Party-Linked Venture Capital Firm For Tutoring Services

Fred Hu, CEO of Primavera Capital, is a member of the Chinese People

The CEO of a Chinese venture capital firm that quietly bought up a U.S. education company holding a Pentagon contract has long-standing connections to multiple Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence units, the Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

Primavera Capital, a Hong Kong-based venture capital firm, was an early investor in TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, and owns Princeton Review and Tutor.com. However, a review of the firm’s Chinese-language website found that CEO and founder Fred Hu has extensive ties to the Chinese government and belonged to organizations that the U.S. government has identified as part of the CCP’s “United Front” system. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: China’s Military Could Be Reaping The Benefits Of Takeover Of US Ag Giant)

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) says the CCP uses its United Front system to influence foreign actors and collect intelligence. China’s United Front is overseen by the United Front Work Department (UFWD), which USCC has characterized as a “Chinese intelligence service.”

The USCC was established by Congress to monitor and investigate the national security implications of the economic relationship between the U.S. and China.

Primavera, through its ownership of Tutor.com, now holds a contract with the Pentagon, Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton wrote to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in February 2024. The tutoring service is a “long-standing provider” to U.S. military servicemembers and their families, and is funded by the Pentagon’s Defense Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) General Library Program.

In 2008, Hu became a delegate of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Hunan province, according to his company’s website, which the DCNF translated from Chinese. Hunan’s CPPCC membership roster identifies Hu as a delegate in 2013, 2021 and during the most recently listed 2022 congress.

“CPPCC delegates attend a high-profile annual meeting to receive direction from the CCP regarding the ways its policies should be characterized to both domestic and foreign audiences,” according to the USCC. “Delegates to the CPPCC serve as proxies for CCP interests by virtue of their participation in this forum, and they frequently act as interlocutors with foreign government officials, businesses and academic institutions.”

The CPPCC’s charter states that delegates must “uphold the leadership” of the CCP, “facilitate implementation of state foreign policy,” “take advantage of the CPPCC as a united front organization” and even “keep state secrets.”

Hu appears in photos on the Hunan CPPCC’s website and on Chinese state-run media social media accounts wearing the CPPCC’s distinctive red, clip-on delegate’s badge at the organization’s meetings and during interviews.

Despite this, a Primavera spokesperson denied that Hu any ties to the Chinese government.

“Dr. Fred Hu is not a member of the CCP or any other political party, and Primavera Capital has no ties to any political party in China or any other country,” Primavera’s spokesperson told the DCNF by email. “Dr. Hu is not an advisor to the Chinese government, and belongs to none of the United Front organizations.”

Yet, Hu is also listed on the Western Returned Scholars Association’s (WRSA) website as a “director” of the organization’s “Entrepreneur Alliance.”

“WRSA is subordinate to the United Front Work Department, the CCP agency tasked with coordinating influence operations at the operational level” and seeks to “meet the requirements of the [CCP] leadership that it should ‘become a bridge between the Party and overseas students and scholars,’” a 2020 USCC staff research report states.

Toward that end, WRSA conducts “influence operations by disseminating propaganda,” the 2020 report states.

Fred Hu, CEO of Primavera Capital, is listed as a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and a Chinese government adviser. [Screenshot of Sohu.com video]

Fred Hu, CEO of Primavera Capital, is listed as a delegate of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. [Screenshot of Sohu.com video]

U.S. lawmakers have raised concerns over Primavera’s ownership of Tutor.com, an online tutoring platform.

Tutor.com partners with universities, K–12 schools, libraries and the U.S. military to “provide 24/7, on-demand tutoring and homework help,” according to its website.

Most recently, Cotton sent a letter to the Department of Defense (DOD) concerning a contract that the Pentagon has with Tutor.com. Cotton’s letter characterized the relationship as “ill-advised, reckless and a danger to U.S. national security,” citing a May 2023 Wall Street Journal investigation.

“While providing educational services, Tutor.com collects personal data on users, such as location, internet protocol addresses and contents of the tutoring sessions,” Cotton wrote. “As Chinese national security laws require companies to release confidential business and customer data to the Chinese government, we are paying to expose our military and their children’s private information to the Chinese Communist Party.”

Parents Defending Education, a “grassroots organization working to reclaim our schools,” recently identified dozens of U.S. K-12 schools using Tutor.com.

In 2018, Primavera was also one of several venture capital firms to invest a total of $3 billion into ByteDance, which owns TikTok.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Application Act, which, if passed, would force ByteDance to sell its interest in TikTok.

The vote came just days after FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that ByteDance is “beholden to the CCP” during questioning from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

“The different kinds of influence operations you’re describing, are extraordinarily difficult to detect, which is part of what makes the national security concerns represented by TikTok so significant,” Wray told Rubio.

Primavera’s portfolio shows that the firm has also invested in companies tied to alleged human rights violations, including Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime.

In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security blacklisted SenseTime for allegedly developing racial profiling facial recognition technologies to track ethnic minorities in China’s western province of Xinjiang, which the Chinese government has used in relation to China’s ongoing genocide.

“It’s concerning that a platform providing services to the U.S. military has close connections to a ‘trusted advisor’ to the Chinese government,” a majority spokesperson from the House Select Committee on the CCP told the DCNF. “This issue warrants further scrutiny.”

DOD did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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