A group of four high-class private schools in New York City is owned by a company that is run by a man identified as a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
According to the New York Post, the Basis Independent Schools (BIS) district has two campuses in Manhattan and another two in Brooklyn. The district charges as much as $44,500 a year in tuition, and promotes itself as a district that produces graduates who “gain entry into some of the world’s most prestigious colleges.”
The district consists of a Pre-Kindergarten to Second Grade school in downtown Brooklyn, a Pre-K to Fifth Grade school in the Upper West Side, a Third Grade to Twelfth Grade school in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and a Sixth Grade to Twelfth Grade school in Chelsea. The Red Hook campus was recently ranked by Niche as among the best college prep schools in the country.
However, the district was sold in 2019 to the Spring Education Group (SEG), which itself is owned by the Hong Kong-based Primavera Capital Group (PCG). PCG’s chairman and CEO is a man named Fred Zuliu Hu, a Harvard graduate and adviser to Harvard and Columbia University, a former Goldman Sachs banker, and senior member of the CCP.
Both PCG and SEG have since issued statements denying that Hu is or was ever a member of the CCP, with the former claiming that “he is not a member of the CCP or any other political party,” and that “he was not a CCP member at the time when he was an executive at Goldman Sachs.”
PCG bought out the founders of BIS, Michael and Olga Block, for an undisclosed sum in 2019. Prior to the buyout, the couple had founded at least four more schools in China itself. After the deal, the Blocks bought numerous luxury properties, including an $8.4 million penthouse in a Tribeca tower, and a $6.7 million “spacious modern masterpiece” estate in Phoenix.
The district itself acknowledges in a disclaimer that it is owned by Spring Education Group, which is controlled by Primavera, which “is itself owned by Chinese persons residing in Hong Kong.” However, it does not admit to the link between Primavera and the CCP.
Despite the insistence from both companies that Hu is not a CCP member, Hu has in fact advised the Chinese government on debt restructuring, and has also given lectures at the Communist Part School in Beijing.
These revelations come at a time when the CCP has been strategically buying assets in the United States, including farmland and areas of land located near American military bases, raising concerns among lawmakers and leading to several states passing laws prohibiting such purchases by foreign entities.