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On August, 19, 2011, during the heat of the Obama Administration’s trade negotiations with China, Vice President Joe Biden huddled with his top trade advisors at the St. Regis Hotel in Beijing, China. One seat away from Mr. Biden sat Robert Roche.
Mr. Roche is a mysterious figure, an American expatriate and Obama bundler living in Shanghai, China. Mr. Roche’s company, Acorn International, is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and is in partnership with Hu Jintao’s government.
The importance of this partnership was exemplified at the 2011 State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao (above), where something rare and virtually unprecedented in American politics occurred.
Three living presidents--Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter--all attended the event and were seated at the head table. Also seated at the power table were Sen. John Kerry and his billionaire wife, Theresa Heinz Kerry; General Electric chief Jeffrey Immelt; Coca Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent; and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Joining them was Robert Roche--a man whose inconsequential infomercial business hawks everything from cell phones, to exercise equipment, to breast enhancement products.
Telegraphing his influence, Mr. Roche received the most coveted honor of all, a seat just one seat away from President Obama. Left in the cheap seats were former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and numerous other titans of politics, finance, and business with billions of dollars in assets in China, including JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, CEO of Disney Robert Iger, and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
Acorn has ties with “four established domestic [state-controlled] banks through which we directly market products through specialized catalogues to credit card holders at these banks. As of March 31, 2009 we have established relationships with 13 domestic banks.” This allowed Acorn to gain revenue through credit card transactions with Chinese banks. Between 2007 and 2010, the revenue stream from that line of business grew 180%...Acorn’s prospectus states that “since commencing [its] operations in 1998, [the company has] formed close and strong relationships with various CCTV and national satellite channels….”
Given the Chinese regime’s control over the operations of Chinese businesses, this information raises alarming questions. Former Financial Times Beijing bureau chief and author Richard McGregor explains that for state-owned enterprises, Communist Party meetings are held before corporate board meetings and Party officials make management decisions. As McGregor writes, Party “control over personnel appointments has been inviolate.”
Put simply, the success of Robert Roche’s Chinese company is, by its own admission, contingent on remaining in the good graces of Chinese President Hu Jintao, the regime in Beijing, and the People’s Liberation Army. And in late September 2011, Mr. Roche traveled to Capitol Hill to thwart U.S. efforts to pressure China to increase the value of its currency, the renminbi.
Mr. Obama has since come under fire for his Administration’s inability to jawbone China into significantly raising the value of its currency. The renminbi’s value during Mr. Obama's first term has only increased 8.5%, versus the 21% it rose from 2005-2008 under President George W. Bush. This issue stands at the very heart of America’s trade imbalances with China......"Roche fits the classic profile of someone the Chinese use as ‘agents-of-influence.’ They set these guys up in business in China and then let them use their access to gain influence and recognition
Breitbart News has learned that a major television network tried to track Robert Roche down with no luck. Newsweek contacted Mr. Roche by email but he declined comment. On Sunday, the New York Post reports that efforts to reach Mr. Roche for comment had been unsuccessful. "Roche’s mother in Chicago referred calls to the Obama campaign," wrote the Post's Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein. "The campaign declined to comment."
But Americans deserve to know immediately why an infomercial executive with direct business ties to the Chinese regime has gained such influence and proximity to power inside the Obama White House.