From BlackRock to Washington Again: Biden Adds Big China Fan to Foreign Policy Board

The revolving door between Washington and Wall Street continues unabated with Thomas Donilon, an ex-Obama official, is leaving his post at BlackRock to become a foreign policy advisor to the State Department.

State Department Secretary Anthony Blinken made the announcement on June 17 in a press release. Advisor to President Obama, then left to work at the BlackRock Investment Institute. He is their chairman. The Institute is the macro-economic investment research arm of BlackRock, arguably the biggest China bull in the market.

Donilon is quintessential modern Washington. He was a National Security

Donilon’s appointment as co-chair of the Board is more BlackRock influence inside the Biden administration. BlackRock has been a major proponent of making sure China investments are not ostracized from military pension funds.

The Foreign Affairs Policy Board was first created in the Obama/Biden years in 2011. It is designed to provide independent advice on U.S. foreign policy from an outside the Beltway perspective. It is globally focused, not U.S. focused.

Now back in the saddle in Washington, Donilon is far from an outside the Beltway perspective on American foreign policy. He has served under three presidents.

Blinken has sought to build a diverse board that could advance the Department’s efforts to better root American diplomacy in the needs and aspirations of the American people, the State Department said in a statement last month. Donilon and the 18 others picked by Blinken last month will focus on issues including energy, international economics, global health, and “strategic competition with China,” the State Department said.

While Donilon will not be the only voice on the Board, as a co-chair, CPA envisions the BlackRock Investment Institute chairman to be neutral to soft on China. BlackRock recently opened a mutual fund business in China. If it has a ticker symbol in China, BlackRock has money in it.

In September, George Soros famously called out BlackRock for its big bets on China in an op-ed in the WSJ.

Other members on the Foreign Affairs Policy Board:

Cecilia Muñoz, Co-Chair

Another Obama/Biden appointee. Worked as White House Domestic Policy Council in the Obama years and led the domestic and economic policy team for the Biden/Harris presidential transition. Currently a senior advisor to New America in Washington, DC covering public interest technology. Co-founded Welcome.US, a pro-refugee and immigration group. She started her career at the National Council of La Raza.

David Autor

MIT economics professor, Vice President of the American Economic Association, codirector of the NBER Labor Studies Program and the JPAL Work of the Future experimental initiative. A known researcher on the labor-market impacts caused by technological change and globalization.

Dr. Hal Brands

Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at the globalist American Enterprise Institute. He is also a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.  In an op-ed in November 2020, just days after Trump’s electoral defeat, he wrote in favor of Trump’s China policy and overall views of military engagement: “Trump’s hardline nationalist administration was the first to explicitly point out that China was exploiting the openness of the global economy to pursue an agenda starkly at odds with U.S. interests. That nationalists, whether Trump or Senator Jesse Helms in the 1990s, are so critical of international organizations can provide the U.S. with greater leverage when it seeks to reform those organizations. It is also healthy to have a check on the American impulse to promote its democratic values abroad — not because doing so is a bad idea, but because there are limits to what even a superpower can achieve.” He is the author of “The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry Today” (2022), and “Danger Zone: The Coming Crisis with China” (2022).

Cathy Feingold

Feingold is the director of the AFL-CIO’s International Department. She is a known advocate on foreign policy centered on working people and their families. She brings more than 20 years of experience in trade and global economic policy, and worker and human rights issues.

On September 17, 2020, Feingold said in testimony to Congress: “Aside from the Chinese government and its state-owned enterprises, multinational corporations from around the world profit from forced and prison labor at levels not seen since World War II. There is no debate about the gravity and scale of the abuse in the Xinjiang Region of China. The time has come to act to end it. This will require a new and far more effective approach to regulating global supply chains and enforcing our trade policies.”

For the full list see here.




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