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Jim Banks at a congressional hearing

Source: (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – China is using “sister city agreements” with cities in the United States as outlets for espionage. That’s the accusation being made by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN-3rd).

“These agreements are part of an umbrella operation by Communist China called ‘The United Front’,” Banks told All Indiana Politics. “The FBI has warned us (this) is part of their espionage effort.”

Banks believes Chinese leaders are buttering up local leaders and getting them to sign these agreements which allow the ruling party in China to have access to sensitive information that city leaders may have.

One example Banks claims is a recent sister city agreement that Carmel made under former mayor Jim Brainard.

“The former mayor of Carmel, going to China in his final weeks in office. He was wined and dined – expensive liquor, massages. In the midst of all that he signed a new sister cities agreement.”

Banks is concerned that the agreement may include an acknowledgment of Taiwan as being part of China under the country’s “One China Policy.”

He cited a similar happening in Prague, Czech Republic, where that city ended its sister city agreement with China claiming it was because of that very stipulation.

Banks says he brought this to the attention of current Carmel mayor Sue Finkam who he says is now reviewing the new agreement.

He is urging his fellow lawmakers in Congress to pass legislation ending all sister city agreements between U.S. and Chinese cities.