A $39.9 million Vancouver real estate listing is drawing attention, Business Intelligence for BC (BIV) reports, not just for the high price but because the owner had listed her occupation as “student.”

That was hardly the only unusual aspect of the deal for the upscale property, and others in the immediate area.

Hanying Chen listed her occupation as “student” when she bought the Drummond Drive property for $14.68 million in 2012. How the student managed to come up with the money remains a mystery. According to realtor Vivian Li, Chen became the founder and director of Circle Bright Productions, a live theatre and arts company that focuses on Chinese and English audiences.

Hanying Chen’s $39.9 million listing is near another Drummond Drive property that sold for $51.8 million in 2015. The buyer was Mailin Chen, and when BIV asked Li if Hanying Chen and Mailin Chen were related, the realtor declined to disclose “personal information,” on the “family holding.” On the other hand, information has already emerged.

Mailin Chen was “once a duck farmer who became a hotel developer, and is now head of a China-based conglomerate and a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a high-profile advisory body in China,” according to a 2015 article by Canada’s National Post. The CPPCC, as BIV noted, “directs the United Front Work Department [UFWD], a foreign propaganda and influence network of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP].”

As China.org explains, the CPPCC is also “an important organ for the development of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC [CCP].” The CCP “founded the CPPCC shortly before the birth of New China.” The CPPCC looms large in China’s united front operations.

According to the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission, China uses united front work “to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).” The CCP focuses on potential opposition in China but the united front strategy “conducts influence operations targeting foreign actors and states.” Under Xi Jinping, united front organizations “are playing an increasingly important role in China’s broader foreign policy.”

The CCP “is strengthening its influence by co-opting representatives of ethnic minority groups, religious movements, and business, science and political groups,” explains Alex Josek of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in “The Party Speaks for You,” subtitled “Foreign interference and the Chinese Communist Party’s united front system.”

According to the June 2020 ASPI study, the CCP “claims the right to speak on behalf of those groups and uses them to claim legitimacy.” Through the United Front Work Department (UFWD), the CCP manages a coalition of entities working toward the Party’s goals, and the CCP’s role “is often covert or deceptive.”

In China, the CCP is the sole ruling force. In this totalitarian dictatorship, people rise or fall based on their loyalty to the CCP. To say the least, it’s a stretch that a humble “duck farmer” should come to head a building conglomerate and then purchase a Vancouver mansion for $51.8 million.

According to the Financial Post, the property was “not listed and not conducted by real estate agents.” Mailin Chen bought other luxury properties in Vancouver, including a $10.5 million home in the upscale Shaughnessy neighborhood. Starting in 2012, the Post report notes, “Chinese nationals could apply for a 10-year, multiple-entry visa, giving them new mobility to travel and buy property” in Canada.

Mailin Chen also operates Chunghwa corporation, dedicated to “building a better tomorrow,” which “means a future that benefits everyone in the community.” Chunghwa is involved in real estate and bills itself as “an advocate for positive change.”

It’s also a stretch that Chinese “student” Hanying Chen can pay more than $14 million for a luxurious Vancouver property. If people thought she had some help from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which directs the United Front Work Department, it would be hard to blame them. As BIV noted, Chen’s theatrical company organized a charity concert titled “One World One Love—China and Canada.”

Mailin Chen was a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which directs the United Front Work Department, a foreign propaganda and influence network of the CCP.

As Alex Josek notes, China’s united front operation “is an exportation of the CCP’s political system. It reaches into foreign political parties, diaspora communities and multinational corporations.” The CCP strategy “undermines social cohesion, exacerbates racial tension, influences politics, harms media integrity, facilitates espionage, and increases unsupervised technology transfer.” And the CCP’s role is “often covert or deceptive.”

This is what happens when Western democratic nations grant trade and travel privileges to a one-party communist dictatorship.