Salvo 01.15.2021 5 minutes

How the U.S. Could Lose to China


America’s unserious political class is totally unequipped to deal with the threat.

The Chinese Communist Party is deathly serious in its pursuit of global hegemony, which, if achieved, would be a nightmare for all who believe in liberty and justice.

By contrast, can it be said of our political class that it is deathly serious about anything fundamental to preserving our way of life?

As 2021 dawns, contrast how the CCP ended last year, with how America’s leaders started this one.

The CCP should have come out of 2020 badly wounded, withering under severe isolation and punishment from a newly resolute West spurred to action over China’s primary culpability in the cover-up and spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it rang in the new year with a diplomatic, economic, and strategic coup—all with the aid of the West.

China and the European Union agreed in principle to an investment pact that the EU’s president described as “an important landmark in our relationship with China” that would “provide unprecedented access to the Chinese market for European investors.” This was quite a reward given China’s depredations—from the coronavirus casualties on Europe’s streets, to the victims of the crackdown on Hong Kong, to the prisoners in the mushrooming Xinjiang gulags.

The agreement enabled China to drive a wedge between America and its putative allies and partners, reap the pecuniary benefits, and generate a golden opportunity to exert even greater leverage and therefore control over Europe by binding it ever-closer economically and, by necessity, politically and socially.

All in all, China capped a year that could have proven catastrophic for its ambitions by notching a major victory as it continued its ruthless pursuit of global power and influence. Besides which, it exposed our friends’ stated devotion to the so-called liberal international order, and concerns about the environment and human rights, as hollow—particularly given China’s worst-in-class record on the last two counts. Above all, it revealed the EU’s, greed, cowardice, and most concerningly, its readiness to hedge should Communist China eclipse the U.S. as the dominant world power.

What might give it such an idea?

Consider what was happening in Washington, D.C.

Joe Biden’s team’s reacted in toothless fashion to the then-impending EU-China investment pact, stating it “would welcome early consultations with our European partners on our common concerns about China’s economic practices.” Those concerns are not standing in the way of Team Biden’s desire, however, to “cooperate” with Beijing, the world’s largest polluter, on climate change—which Biden claims is a greater threat than China—nor to “engage” with it in the strategically vital realm of space. For the first time in his nearly 50-year career, Biden himself is acknowledging that China presents multiple challenges, but that is about the best that can be said of the arguably compromised, erstwhile loud and proud China cheerleader. One will search in vain for a single piece of evidence that would give the likes of the EU the impression that a Biden administration would be more serious about taking on China than a Trump one. For its part, Communist China has indicated it will welcome a President Biden with open arms.

Meanwhile, Washington’s lack of seriousness on other matters showed too.

Fresh off the heels of passing a pork-laden spending bill unmoored from its headline aim of providing relief from the economic hardship our political class inflicted upon us through its arbitrary, capricious, and draconian coronavirus response—a bill that lavished billions of dollars on projects ranging from “gender programs” in Pakistan, to failing Amtrak, to the closed Kennedy Center—Congress turned to other vital matters.

The House Rules Committee proposed a slew of changes for the next Congress, including, according to a press release, “honor[ing] all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral.”

All of these events transpired before Congress demonstrated its overwhelming refusal to show even a modicum of interest in investigating the corruption of the 2020 presidential election (while telegraphing it would federalize its assault on election integrity going forward); endeavored to undertake another dubious and pathetic impeachment effort; and threatened to further exploit the Capitol Hill riot by violating the rights of Americans directly and via their adjuncts in Big Tech. Punishing and purging dissenters from the bipartisan establishment’s orthodoxy indeed seems to be the one thing of consequence the feds are truly serious about.

In the spirit of the new rules package, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) concluded his opening prayer for the 117th Congress by saying “amen…and a-woman.”

It would seem clear that in 2021, as concerns Congress, we can expect still-greater profligacy with a side of gender pronouns.

Surely, one would think members of our political class would at least show some seriousness with respect to the coronavirus pandemic for which they advocated we upend our lives for months on end. Yet, demonstrating how unserious they were about the stringent epidemic-combatting standards they enthusiastically endorsed, several Democrat House members who recently tested positive for the coronavirus nevertheless returned to the nation’s capital to cast their vote to re-elect Speaker Pelosi.

If you thought maybe things at the state level looked brighter, think again. 

On China, governor’s offices around the country responded with almost unanimous silence to my inquiries about what measures they were taking to combat the CCP’s malign influence.

With respect to the not only economically disastrous, and socially ruinous, but liberty-imperiling state and local level coronavirus responses, the Empire State showed the potential for ever-greater tyranny on the horizon.

A New York assemblyman put up a bill for consideration that would allow the governor or official of his choosing by order to detain and/or remove individuals or groups of individuals to a “medical facility or other appropriate facility” should the governor believe they “pose an imminent and significant threat to the public health resulting in severe morbidity or high mortality” during a pandemic.

In sum, at every level, we see unseriousness among wide swathes of our political class: About the threats facing us, and the values and principles that we must rekindle if we are to be able to counter them. Many of our putative leaders refuse to take the China challenge remotely as seriously as China is taking its march to power. Many have put ClimatismWokeism and pandemic hysteria over America’s interests, freedoms, prudence, and frankly, sanity.

That not just the political class but the ruling class itself is literally and figuratively invested in China’s rise for decades, only makes the situation more grim.

Nothing is preordained about China’s ascent, or America’s decline.

But China’s rise will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if our most formidable adversary remains doggedly devoted to its cause, while America’s “elites” are devoted to any other cause but that of putting America, its people, and their liberty and justice first.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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