Wendi Deng Murdoch was born Deng WenGe during the height of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Her birth name in fact is translated as “Cultural Revolution.” Deng Murdoch changed her own name to rid herself of those Chinese communist ties but recent allegations call into question whether or not she has been an intelligence darling of the Motherland all along.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that U.S. Counterintelligence officials warned Jared Kushner in early 2017 that the former Mrs. Rupert Murdoch — owner of the WSJ– might be using his and his wife Ivanka Trump’s friendship to benefit Chinese government interests. Concerns were also raised about Deng Murdoch’s lobbying on behalf of a Chinese-funded construction project in Washington, D.C.
The project is a planned U.S. $100 million Chinese garden at the National Arboretum, located adjacent to Congress and not far from the White House. The issue is not so much the garden as the proposed 21 meter tower that could be used for surveillance.
A spokesman for Wendi Deng Murdoch said she “has no knowledge of any FBI concerns or other intelligence agency concerns relating to her or her associations,” and denied she was aware of the garden project.
Wendi Deng Murdoch was born in China, educated at Yale, and worked as an intern at Star TV in Hong Kong. Star TV is where she met Murdoch, the Australian media magnate 37 years her senior. They married in 1999, had two children and divorced in 2013.
Before Michael Wolff wrote the exposé that ended any positive relationship between President Trump and Steve Bannon, he wrote a tell-all biography of Rupert Murdoch. Wolff tweeted on January 15, 2018:
“Since their divorce, Murdoch has been telling anybody who would listen that Wendi is a Chinese spy–and had been throughout the marriage.”
The report stirred a social media debate inside China as to whether the U.S. is just paranoid in light of China’s growth on the world stage, or if the argument might have merit. Chinese officials, as expected, are putting a favorable spin on the story and claiming it has no validity.
Yuan Zheng, a U.S. affairs expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said “The absence of strategic trust between the U.S. and China is a long-standing issue. As the U.S. becomes less confident, their skepticism and accusations against China have become more frequent. All China can do is … become as open and transparent as possible and reduce official intervention to avoid criticism.”
Yuan gave the example of the government-funded Confucius Institutes. China has opened 500 of them worldwide and they offer language and cultural classes. It should be noted that they have been the subject of long-standing accusations as centers of intelligence collection and recruitment for the PRC Intelligence apparatus.
Was Deng Murdoch a spy? She was certainly well-placed for collecting intelligence, even if just for social engineering campaigns in high places. Her ex husband is the current Chairman of 21st Century Fox as well as the former Chairman and CEO of international media conglomerate News Corp– parent company of Fox News. He and Wendi rubbed elbows in a variety of influential circles worldwide. It is unknown if Deng Murdoch is currently under any type of ongoing counterintelligence investigation. She resides part-time in California and New York City.