Opinion: China, the True Enemy Within
Commentary by Bruce Abramson and Robert B. Chernin
February 10, 2021
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently warned that if the Biden administration gets America’s China policy wrong, we will find ourselves living in a very “different world.”
It’s a chilling yet accurate formulation that Americans can’t afford to ignore. China is out to change the world in ways hostile to American interests and American values. Those changes are already affecting our life and our liberties.
Data confirms China’s growing influence across our economy and culture. China maintains a controlling interest in over 2,400 American companies, including some of the very largest. Their reach now cuts across every sector of American business, including leading-edge information and communications technology. As we learned during the pandemic, China controls critical supply chains, including food and medicine. China’s growing investments in American education, entertainment, and media increasingly shape everything we hear and learn (and what we don’t hear).
The Chinese regime uses its monetary and fiscal policy as a weapon in its strategic attack. Its currency controls manipulate market forces and pricing of the yuan. Chinese industry floods the world with underpriced consumer goods, food, medicine, technology, education subsidies, and entertainment products—all too often to the detriment of our domestic industries.
On human rights, China imprisons Uyghurs in concentration camps, brutalizes practitioners of Christianity and Falun Gong, and uses political prisoners for organ harvesting. In 2020, they crushed the freedom and autonomy of Hong Kong and spread vast misinformation about its role in the origins of the coronavirus epidemic.
Yet far too many of America’s leaders seem unconcerned. Even the disclosure of alleged Chinese spies developing close, years-long relationships with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)—two Democrats with access to sensitive intelligence critical for national security—has been met with indifference. Strangely, Swalwell, was immediately rewarded with a renewed seat on the Intelligence Committee and was selected as one of the impeachment managers.
Despite the growing awareness that China is challenging the United States for global leadership, the threat posed to our freedoms and way of life remains unclear to most Americans. The Biden administration, not surprisingly, sees China as a competitor, not a real threat. They are wrong.
Throughout history, the basic structure of international relations (i.e., “the world order”) has essentially mimicked the structure of the dominant power or powers. Post-World War II, the world came to look to the United States for that model. Countries around the world routinely hold elections because elections confer legitimacy upon the regime. Even the United Nations is structured as a bicameral assembly. Member states are nominal equals, and human rights are a perpetual topic of discussion, debate, and diplomacy. Rule-based approaches to trade and dispute resolution characterize all major international organizations.
Even though many of those elections are shams, the U.N. is a hotbed of anti-Americanism, and human rights are widely violated, the key point is that nearly the entire globe feels compelled to pay at least rhetorical homage to American values and the American system.
In a China-dominant world, Chinese values and systems will assume that universalizing role. Human rights, civil liberties, rule of law, and representative government will be greatly diminished. More than the world order will change. National governance, including our own, will follow suit. Understanding that is critical to protecting and preserving American freedom and prosperity.
The outline of an America unknowingly yet willingly sacrificing its freedom and prosperity to absorb those values is already becoming clear. American progressivism already follows a soft form of the Chinese model. An enlightened, elite oligarchy broadcasts official facts, beliefs, and values that none may question. Those who fall in line are allowed to prosper in ways that serve the oligarchy’s conception of the public interest. Others are put on the dole in exchange for embracing authorized narratives and expressing gratitude for government largesse. Citizens are encouraged to inform on each other to curry favor with local oligarchs. Those deemed objectionable, either for their ethnicity or beliefs, are being removed from polite society.
An America without the fundamental rights and liberties that have always defined our national soul is an America fertile for an era of Chinese dominance. Nearly every trend in contemporary American life appears to be heading in that direction. The accommodationist policies already taking shape within the Biden administration pose a grave threat to American ideals, values, and welfare. They are leading to a world, and an America, that conforms to Chinese ideals and values instead of our own.
It’s one thing to explain the threat China poses to everyday Americans or their families. The real concern is that the missteps the Biden administration is already making threaten to render a very different world. Pompeo’s warning is exactly right. The Chinese Communist Party and their alliance with American progressivism is the true enemy within.
Bruce Abramson and Robert B. Chernin are directors at the American Center for Education and Knowledge. Abramson is the author of the forthcoming “The New Civil War: Exposing Elites, Fighting Progressivism, and Restoring America” (RealClear Publishing, 2021).