Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden, worked for a Shanghai investment firm involved in government- and military-linked deals that bolstered the Chinese military, including the purchase of an American auto parts maker, according to a new documentary film.

The younger Mr. Biden, a lawyer and investment banker, until recently was a director at Bohai Harvest RST, known as BHR, formed with $1 billion in Chinese government funding shortly after then-Vice President Biden visited China in December 2013, according to the investigative report.

Since then, the firm has worked with a division of the major Chinese defense contractor Aviation Industry Corp. of China, known as AVIC, and several other Chinese companies linked to the People’s Liberation Army.

Peter Schweizer, head of the Florida-based Government Accountability Institute and narrator of the film “Riding the Dragon: The Bidens’ Chinese Secrets,” said the documentary is based on corporate records, financial documents, legal briefings and court papers. Mr. Schweizer is perhaps best known for an investigative book in 2015 tracing the foreign sources of income for Bill and Hillary Clinton after Mr. Clinton left the White House in 2001.

The Hunter Biden investigation revealed a largely hidden financial relationship between China and both Bidens, Mr. Schweizer said in an interview.

“It’s a relationship that grew while Joe Biden was vice president of the United States and shortly after he was appointed the point person on U.S. policy towards China,” Mr. Schweizer said.

“It’s the story of the second most powerful man in the world at the time and how his family was striking deals with America’s chief rival on the global stage, the People’s Republic of China.”

The release of the 41-minute documentary, posted on YouTube, highlights the role of China in the presidential election.

President Trump has repeatedly suggested that Joseph R. Biden and Hunter Biden’s deals in China were corrupt.

“His son walked out with $1.5 billion of money to invest, where he’ll make hundreds of thousands of dollars — maybe millions of dollars a year,” Mr. Trump told reporters in July. “I asked one of the biggest people on Wall Street — maybe the biggest — ‘Is that possible?’ He said, ‘No.’ He’s never seen it. [The Chinese] don’t do that.”

A spokesman for the Biden campaign declined to comment on Mr. Schweizer’s findings.

Asked recently whether he was vulnerable to critics because of his son’s business dealings in China, Mr. Biden said: “No, I don’t believe so at all. My son’s business dealings were not anything what everybody that he’s talking about. Not even remotely.”

An attorney for Hunter Biden did not respond to requests for comment on the film.

The lawyer, George Mesires, said in a statement in October in response to questions about his client’s business activities that Hunter Biden served as an unpaid director to BHR and owned no equity in the company while his father was vice president from 2009 to 2017.

In October 2017, Hunter Biden invested $420,000 for a 10% stake in BHR, but as of October 2019 had not received any compensation for serving as a board member nor any return on the investment, his attorney said.

“Moreover, Hunter played no role in directing or making BHR’s investments,” Mr. Mesires said. “Hunter intends to resign from the BHR board of directors on or by October 31, 2019.”

Hunter Biden promised not to serve on any foreign boards or work for foreign companies if his father becomes president, Mr. Mesires said.

Deals around the world

A BHR spokesman could not be reached, but the company says on its website that it was formed in 2013 as China’s first foreign investment private equity firm and a “cross-border investment arm of Bohai Industrial Investment Fund,” a government-approved equity fund.

“We bring together the financial, market and deal resources of our stakeholders (including the Bank of China) and the structuring and execution capabilities of our experienced investment team,” the company stated.

The film shows that BHR made deals around the world aimed at advancing Chinese government goals.

“This new firm started making investment deals that would serve the strategic interests of the Chinese military,” Mr. Schweizer said.

In 2015, for example, BHR together with AVIC purchased the American auto parts manufacturer Henniges for a reported $1 billion. The deal was approved by the Obama administration despite Henniges’ role in producing goods with potential military applications.

A year earlier, AVIC was sanctioned by the Commerce Department and placed on a list of companies denied export licenses for their role in selling missile goods to Iran.

“AVIC was notorious for its history of stealing U.S. military technologies to build their own fighter jets and drones,” Mr. Schweizer said.

BHR also invested in military surveillance technology and facial recognition software called Face++, a division of the Chinese company Megvii. Face++ is a key element of the government’s mass surveillance network used throughout China and is now being marketed to Third World governments.

BHR also assisted China’s effort to corner the world market on rare-earth minerals, which are essential for a broad range of high-technology products. In 2014, BHR joined with a company called China Molybdenum in announcing plans to buy half of one of the largest copper mines in the world.

BHR also invested in China General Nuclear Power Corp., or CGN, which U.S. prosecutors have linked to the theft of commercial nuclear power technology secrets.

“Is it really that crazy to think that by partnering with the son of the vice president, [the Chinese] were trying to buy them too?” Mr. Schweizer asked. “And make no mistake: These firms Hunter was dealing with are directly tied to the Chinese military.”

Both CGN and AVIC were listed by the Pentagon as military-linked Chinese companies in June.

The film concludes that much remains unknown about the Bidens’ dealings in China.

“We also know that these deals didn’t just make the Bidens’ money; they had potentially dangerous consequences for our national security,” Mr. Schweizer said.

Despite Hunter Biden’s announced resignation from BHR, “Hunter quietly maintains an ownership stake in the firm, a stake worth millions of dollars, and stands to be worth even more as its China partnership prospers,” he added.

The film quoted the former vice president’s widely cited comment in May on the campaign trail in Iowa that China is not a strategic threat.

“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” he said.

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