Issues & Insights

China’s Disguised Global Threat Comes Alive

I&I Editorial

To twist Lenin’s quip, it will be a communist who sells capitalists the cheap advanced telecommunications technology with which China hangs them.

A new and exciting movie was just released illustrating through semi-fictional dramatization how the Chinese government-controlled telecom company Huawei is a primary economic weapon in an arsenal through which Beijing seeks global domination.

The names of the people and the company are all changed, but “Claws of the Red Dragon” dramatizes Canada’s arrest at U.S. request last year of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s financial chief and daughter of its founder, for violations of sanctions on terrorist Iran and other offenses. In retaliation, Beijing detained two Canadians, an ex-diplomat and a businessman, for spying, and retried a 36-year-old tourist serving a 15-year drug offense, sentencing him to the death penalty.

It depicts a real life-based Chinese-Canadian reporter reluctantly taking on the story and risking her life to connect the dots between the company and the Communist Party and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. And the film goes behind closed doors to show the scheming of party operatives whose sights are set on global dominance in our lifetimes.

Having premiered over the weekend on the One America News Network, which will show it again Friday evening, the film is the work of New York-based Chinese-American New Tang Dynasty Television. The production values and acting, particularly Dorren Lee as journalist Jane Li, are top notch. Ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon, who’s an executive producer, hosted a press screening in New York City last week, where he brandished a well-worn copy of “Unrestricted Warfare,” a 1999 book by two senior Chinese air force colonels. They argue that economic warfare, attacks on digital infrastructure, and terrorism can enable a lesser power to win a war against the U.S., especially as part of a “grand warfare method” pairing military and non-military tactics. Beijing hasn’t veered far off that strategy in the two decades since.

As the U.S. and the rest of the industrialized free world transition to 5G, Huawei seeks global market dominance by providing the new infrastructure through artificially low pricing – and likely bribery and other acts of corruption. It’s tough for other firms to compete when your rival’s got a $100 billion line of credit from its undemocratic government. The U.S. in May imposed bans on Huawei’s access to U.S. technology for fear of the firm incorporating “back doors” in its hardware allowing China to spy in the future.

In May, I&I detailed the threat, as well as the increasingly prioritized U.S. response. Already covering more than a third of the population of the world in 170 countries, Huawei has been red-lighted by the Trump administration, which now insists that our allies look to other firms to build their countries’ 5G high-speed mobile networks, warning that Beijing could use Huawei hardware and future software upgrades for espionage, and even to cripple vital national services or industries that will depend on 5G in only a few years.

Big Brother Beijing Already In 230 International Cities

Huawei’s “Safe Cities” facial recognition surveillance technology is already well entrenched within lesser economies with which Beijing has cultivated deep diplomatic and economic connections, from Angola, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Laos, and Uganda in the Third World, to Turkey, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine, and even France, Italy and Germany, encompassing 230 cities and tens of millions of individuals.

The National Basketball Association recently found out how swift and brutal the Chinese regime can be when its repression is pointed out even beyond its borders. Beijing demanded that Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey be fired for his now-deleted tweet in support of the people of Hong Kong as they demonstrate against the Chinese communist government for full freedoms.

Even the New York Times, not known for worrying about reds under the bed, editorialized against Beijing and those excusing its behavior in America. “China’s assertive campaign to police discourse about its policies, even outside of its borders, and the acquiescence of American companies eager to make money in China, pose a dangerous and growing threat to one of this nation’s core values: the freedom of expression,” the paper wrote this week. Now maybe the Times can turn to the dangerous and growing threat to that core value of freedom of expression that’s found on our own country’s leftist-dominated college campuses.

Remarkable how it takes a juicy temptation to attack capitalists – “American companies eager to make money in China” – to get the Gray Lady to sound a warning against communism. But the editorial does insightfully identify the most important difference between the U.S.-China conflict and the Cold War with the Soviet Union. “The United States and China are economically intertwined: The trade volume between the two countries is the greatest of any between two countries in the history of the world. … But far too many American companies have shown that their values are for sale.” It cited the sad spectacle of foreign airlines kowtowing to Beijing’s diktats and scrapping references to Taiwan from their websites, “and Marriott firing a social media manager in Omaha for ‘liking’ a tweet posted by a group that backs Tibetan independence.”

There has been plenty of naivete across the political spectrum in America on the expectation of China’s embrace of a market economy inevitably leading to Chinese freedom, from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Hillary Clinton, and of course including theorist Francis “The End of History” Fukuyama, whose fond hope of “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government” has aged very badly indeed.

Some claim the Chinese threat is overblown. National University of Singapore professor and “Has the West Lost It?” author Kishore Mahbubani wrote in Harper’s earlier this year that China as an adversary is manageable for the U.S. “If it agrees to be constrained by multiple global rules and partnerships, China could very well remain a different polity — that is, not a liberal democracy — and still not be a threatening one,” according to Mahbubani. “This is the alternative scenario that the ‘China threat’ industry in the United States should consider and work toward.” But that places a great amount of faith in paper promises.

A cause for cheer is that Huawei’s 5G technological superiority is actually more hype than reality, and countries and firms alike would be foolish to hitch their wagon to it for the long haul; the competition from other 5G companies such as Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung, rather than a Huawei monopoly, is the brighter global future for the new platform.

So the argument against Huawei and its communist masters is economic, as well as based on saving or enhancing political freedoms. Now it’s up to the Trump administration, and 5G companies whose strings aren’t pulled by expansionist tyrants, to spread the truth brought to life so well by “Claws of the Red Dragon.”

— Written by Thomas McArdle

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