China’s communist regime has shown a shocking proclivity for lying and deceptive behavior in handling the Wuhan virus pandemic. Now, Australia, already backed by 113 countries, wants a full accounting of China’s unacceptable behavior. China’s answer? Punish Australia.
It’s arguable whether China ever intended to live by the same rules as the rest of the world when it first gained membership in the World Trade Organization in 2001, backed strongly by the U.S. That move, more than anything, cemented China’s accession to world power status, with its economy soaring from just $80 billion in GDP in 1980 to $12 trillion in 2019.
But, as we’re always reminded, with great power comes great responsibility.
And China, under the increasingly totalitarian control of President-without-end Xi Jinping, has flunked that test, as we now plainly see during the COVID-19 disaster. In addition to putting Uighurs in concentration camps and disappearing dissidents, China’s communist regime has all but crushed Hong Kong’s brave freedom movement by arresting its boldest leaders.
That’s just how the Chinese communists deal with things. Smile outwardly, plot inwardly.
When Australia took the lead this week in calling for an independent investigation into the origins and spread of the coronavirus, China didn’t argue or remonstrate or debate. It slapped 80% tariffs on Australia’s exports of barley, a key crop.
While Xi says his regime will “support” the investigation, the decision to go after Australia say otherwise. And China’s state-run media explicitly warn of further action that could deliver a $135 billion blow to Australia’s economy.
Even so, more than 100 nations already have signed on to the inquiry started by Australia. Among them: Russia, Indonesia, India, Japan, Britain, Canada, all 27 European Union members, 54 African nations, as well as Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Turkey and New Zealand. It seems that, around the world, nations hit hard by the Wuhan virus want answers.
The U.S. is taking a far more proactive approach. The U.S. Commerce Department late last week said it would require foreign chipmakers that make products containing U.S. software or hardware to get licenses to sell to Chinese government-controlled telecom giant Huawei.
Huawei has used its government ties and extensive spying efforts to leapfrog the U.S. and others in the coming 5G wireless race that promises to remake much of the tech world. The stakes are enormous.
In retaliation, China now says it might place Apple, Qualcomm and other U.S. companies on its “unreliable entities list.” That could be painful, especially for Apple, which gets about 15% of its revenue from the Middle Kingdom.
China’s former peevish behavior is now moving toward thuggish and outright threatening behavior. The Beijing-controlled publication Global Times recently warned that the communist government “won’t just strike back symbolically, but will impose countermeasures that will make them feel pain.” Its target: the 2020 election.
The regime has lashed out at U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, both Republicans, for their critical comments about the Chinese regime and its inept handling of the Wuhan virus. Hawley’s state is even suing China over coronavirus costs.
No surprise then that the long-term love affair the U.S. and the rest of the West have had with all things China is now coming to a thudding, spectacular end. China’s deceitful behavior has turned it into a global political pariah, as companies divest themselves of key investments there.
We understand that free trade is the gold standard. But we’ve deluded ourselves into believing that our trade with China was free trade, even after discovering that slave labor had been used in some factories. Moreover, the country’s selective access and routine plundering of technology and manufacturing secrets shows it’s acting more like a band of pirates than a growing economic power.
President Donald Trump is working to get U.S. companies to rely less on China as a source, in large part to be less subject to the communist regime’s economic blackmail. While it might not pass muster among free-trade advocates, it is a smart move to balance our interests away from a regime that wishes us ill.
Recent warnings have noted China’s growing belligerence as it faces the possibility of diminished influence in what many once thought would be the “Chinese Century.”
That looks increasingly in doubt. China quite cleverly hid behind the globalization boom for decades as it went about building an enormous military, bullying neighbors, making illegal claims on vast tracks of ocean, and extending its imperial reach around the world, and using recycled trade dollars. Its “21st Century Silk Road Project” utilized hundreds of billions of trade-surplus dollars and loans to build infrastructure in 60 countries across the globe in an effort to elbow the U.S. out of key markets and extend Beijing’s economic dominance.
“China is perhaps the most hypercapitalist regime in the world, but it has used its economic power to become even more politically authoritarian,” wrote J.D. Vance in a recent piece for The American Mind.
Worse, China uses dissidents for slave labor and involuntary organ donations, major violations of international law that have been ignored for years. It’s been allowed to spy on our corporations and government with near impunity, while influencing young Americans through an extensive network of well-funded “Confucius Institutes” located on major campuses.
The U.S. still has much work to do in limiting Beijing’s expanding imperial vision. China itself has well-known plans to be the dominant world power by 2030. The U.S. can’t afford that, nor can the rest of the world. We’re glad to see that Australia and dozens of other nations are now calling China to account for loosing the deadly coronavirus on the world.
If it’s a new Cold War, so be it. Better that than a hot war later.
— Written by Terry Jones