Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the Heritage Foundation dramatically changed its assessment of Malaysia after a consulting firm founded by Heritage President Ed Feulner signed a lucrative contract to represent Malaysian business interests.
As it turns out, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In 2001, John Judis of the New Republic chronicled a strikingly similar story about Heritage’s approach to China.
In the 1980s Heritage wrote position papers on China like this:
[S]hould a free nation under any but the most compelling circumstances establish a policy of seeking close relations with a regime whose policies are anathema to free men?… [E]ven in the cynical world of realpolitik, does not the abandonment of an old friend and ally … constitute the crossing of a fundamental moral line which would be morally reprehensible for the greatest free nation in the world?
Then in the early 1990s many Heritage donors began to invest in China:
To overcome its isolation after the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 1989, China opened its doors, first to Taiwanese and other Asian businesses and shortly thereafter to American ones as well. Soon many Heritage corporate donors had a stake in the Chinese market-and no longer wanted the foundation to antagonize the Chinese government.
By 1996, Ed Feulner was writing editorials blasting those who opposed Most Favored Nation trading status for China:
In Washington, pressure will be applied to “teach the Chinese communist leaders a lesson” by with-drawing Most-Favored-Nation trade status when it comes up for its annual renewal in June. This would be a mistake and counterproductive. The only beneficiaries would be trade officials at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in Tokyo and at the European Union headquarters in Brussels. They would quickly pick up the orders and the long-term business relationships that U.S. companies would be forced to relinquish.
There’s lot’s more in Judis’s full article. Check it out.