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China, Paper Dragon

By The Washington Free Beacon EditorsThe Washington Free Beacon

Demonstrators spray-paint an upside-down picture of Chinese leader Xi Jinping / Getty Images

As the rest of the world reeled from the COVID pandemic in 2020, it looked like China had things under control. Americans and Europeans sheltered in place, while the Chinese enjoyed pool parties and weddings. The World Health Organization concluded in a February 2020 report: “China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic. This decline in COVID-19 cases across China is real.”

Turns out, China’s “bold approach” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. For weeks now, the country’s Communist leaders have imposed lockdowns on some of its largest cities to grapple with a spike in hospitalizations. China’s COVID vaccines are far less effective than those developed and produced in America and Europe. Despite state censorship, cell phone videos of average citizens yelling at the authorities have gone viral (so to speak). People don’t have enough to eat. They are imprisoned in their own apartments. Meanwhile, even the bluest cities in America are lifting mask mandates.

None of this should surprise anyone. On the one hand, China invests a great deal in trying to convince the rest of the world that it should be feared, and its leader, Xi Jinping, has accumulated increasing power.

But the regime has also blundered. Xi this year signed a sweeping pact with Vladimir Putin on the eve of Russia’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine. And China is gaining little from picking a fight with India in the Himalayan Mountains.

What Xi and his apparats do not understand is that every time they bully a neighbor or con an international organization, they are making a strong argument to weaker states that it is better to align with America than to accept Chinese hegemony. When the rest of the world sees that Beijing cannot control a virus that likely originated from one of the regime’s biological laboratories, that case gains strength.

None of this is to say that America should not prepare to confront China in the coming years. The Chinese have surpassed us in hypersonic weapons technology. China’s military buildup is real. But just as the world is now learning through Russia’s blunders in Ukraine just how incompetent and corrupt the Russian Army is, we should not assume a military untested in battle will be as menacing as Chinese propaganda would have us believe.

Totalitarian regimes look fearsome right until they crumble. Xi’s is unlikely to be any different.


China’s Inhumane Covid Lockdowns Became A Wake-up Call For Some Chinese

The Chinese government has chosen to enforce its ‘Zero Covid’ policy with a degree of cruelty and zealousness the Chinese people haven’t experienced since the Cultural Revolution.

By Helen RaleighThe Federalist

china lockdown covid
TODAY/NBC NEWS

Reportedly responding to more infectious Covid-19 variants, the Chinese government has recently put 46 cities and 343 million residents under strict lockdowns. The ruthlessly enforced lockdown policies, empty shelves in grocery stores, and widespread food shortages have become a wake-up call for many. 

After the Chinese Communist Party brutally cracked down on the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square in 1989, it offered the Chinese people an unwritten grand bargain: exchanging their political freedom for economic growth. The last four decades of economic reforms have lifted China’s living standards.

“Many Chinese believe that the country’s recent economic achievements—large-scale poverty reduction, huge infrastructure investment, and development as a world-class tech innovator—have come about because of, not despite, China’s authoritarian form of government,” observe Rana Mitter and Elsbeth Johnson in Harvard Business Review. The party’s censorship, tight control of all aspects of Chinese society, and the rising nationalist movement have left little room for dissenting from this view. 

The CCP’s genocide in Xinjiang against the Uyghur Muslims and other minorities and the party’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement were stories that either received no coverage or distorted coverage in mainland China. Many mainlanders chose to believe the Chinese government’s rhetoric that these stories were manufactured by hostile Western forces who sought to destabilize China and stop the nation’s inevitable return to its rightful place as a dominant power in the world. 

The majority of Chinese supported Beijing’s “Zero Covid” policy between 2020 and 2021, which relied on mandatory vaccination, testing, quarantines, and border control to isolate the entire nation from the rest of the world for more than two years. They point to China’s low Covid case numbers and deaths (many outside of China found those numbers highly questionable), in contrast to high case numbers and fatalities in the West, as evidence that China’s political system is superior to Western democracy. 

Some in the West agreed. Early last year, New York Times China correspondent Li Yuan gleefully tweeted her piece, “In a Topsy-Turvy Pandemic World, China Offers Its Version of Freedom.” She claimed that “the pandemic has upended many perceptions, including ideas about freedom. Chinese don’t have freedom of speech, freedom of worship, or freedom from fear, but they have the freedom to move around and lead a normal day-to-day life,” thanks to the Chinese government’s aggressive response to the pandemic.

Cruelty in Shanghai

But the Chinese people and overseas cheerleaders of the CCP regime had a rude awakening this year thanks to the lockdown in Shanghai, a city of 26 million people known for their wealth and sophistication. The Chinese government has chosen to enforce its “Zero Covid” policy with a degree of cruelty and zealousness the Chinese people haven’t experienced since the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). 

For example, residents have been locked inside their apartments like animals, and some even have metal barriers and fences outside their homes. One foreigner in Shanghai told the BBC, “No one can get out, and I feel helpless.”

There’s widespread hunger because people are not allowed to go grocery shopping and the government-run food delivery has been meager. Guards in white protective gear beat residents who attempted to sneak out to buy some food or even tried to dig up herbs in the yard.

People with chronic illnesses or medical emergencies couldn’t get timely treatment. After a video showing a community worker in a white hazmat suit beating a corgi to death, pet owners have additional concerns. 

Chinese social media is full of posts of desperate Shanghai residents pleading for food, medical help, or someone to take care of their pets. Adults have been taken from their homes and forced to spend weeks in poorly run mass quarantine camps, and young children have been cruelly separated from their parents.

Losing Faith in Chinese Government

Some of the Communist regime’s overseas cheerleaders have changed their minds following the brutal Shanghai lockdowns. Yuan of The New York Times, who lectured Americans that the Chinese version of freedom is more preferable than the freedom in the United States, recently wrote, “China’s ‘Zero Covid’ Mess Proves Autocracy Hurts Everyone.”

More importantly, what happened in Shanghai has evoked the older generation’s memories of the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, and shattered younger generations’ confidence in the government. More and more Chinese people have shown they’re losing faith in the Chinese government’s policies and narratives.

Some chose to speak out. Zhong Hongjun, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, said the government’s actions are so “inhumane” that he regretted supporting the “Zero Covid” policy. 

Repression Sparks Protests

Some chose to protest. In one residential compound, residents clashed with health authorities and police in a desperate attempt to block the government from turning their housing complex into quarantine camps for Covid patients. Police arrested several protesters. 

Since speaking out and protesting in broad daylight are dangerous in an authoritarian regime, others chose more discrete ways to express their anger and frustration. A six-minute video titled “The Voice of April” went viral in China on April 22. It included voices of Shanghai residents complaining about food shortages and lacking medical care and revealing the human toll of the government’s Covid policies.

The video had millions of views, and Chinese netizens tried many creative ways to preserve and share it before the censors took it down, including saving copies on blockchains. Zeyi Yang, a writer for Technology Reviews, calls the Chinese netizens’ actions an example of “digital protesting.”

Drastically Eroding Trust in Government

There are other signs that more Chinese people are losing faith in the Chinese government after witnessing what has happened in Shanghai. China’s capital city Beijing is facing a Covid-19 outbreak. Worrying that Beijing would undergo a Shanghai-style lockdown, Beijing residents stocked up on food and wiped grocery stores clean, despite government officials’ repeated announcements of no food shortages. 

There are indications the lockdowns will result in an exodus of people and capital. An online survey revealed that about 85 percent of Shanghai’s expat residents were considering leaving China due to its lockdown policies. Shanghai-based immigration consultants reported that immigration inquiries from wealthy Shanghai residents have skyrocketed.

One consultant received more than 200 immigration inquiries in one day. He explained that “The authorities are making people sacrifice their basic needs to fight a disease that’s a bit more severe than seasonal flu. Our clients chose to vote with their feet.”

Since the Chinese government has put hundreds of millions of residents under lockdown, Shanghai residents’ torment has been repeated in many other parts of China, so many share Shanghai residents’ anger and frustration. Not surprisingly, more Chinese people have woken up from the government’s lies and cruelty. Beijing’s insistence on harsh “zero Covid” measures may become the regime’s undoing, as more and more Chinese have finally learned that their health, safety, and prosperity are not secure without political freedom. 


President Xi’s Not So Heavenly Kingdom

By Dr. Miklos K. RadvanyiFrontiers of Freedom

Even before the absolutely illegal and sickeningly barbaric invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China as well as his predecessors have done their utmost to crank up their country’s excessively ambitious territorial demands vis-a-vis their neighbors.  Accordingly, waving the red flag of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” President Xi has indulged himself in gross historical falsifications and the threat of nuclear armageddon, if his vision of China’s civilizational superiority and great power status are not accepted unconditionally by the rest of the world.  This outlandish  behavior, combined with President Putin’s increasingly insane demeanor, requires an uncompromising and firm resolve of the world community.

Most importantly, the world in general and the United States of America as well as its allies in particular must internalize the lessons from not preempting President Putin’ war on Ukraine.  Mindlessly rushing to Moscow and trying to dissuade him from taking a violent course of action without a clear strategy of absolute deterrence, including the credible threat of indirect military intervention on behalf of Ukraine by NATO, was doomed to abysmal failure from the beginning.  Courting President Putin only gave the appearance both domestically as well as internationally that he is on the right side of history, namely, that his fallacious grievances and blatant lies about the internal conditions in Ukraine are well justified.  Moreover, begging him to change his mind and to be rational only projected the West’s predicted  Marxian softness and decadence vis-a-vis the overwhelmingly mighty Russian Despot.  In reality, however, Putin’s despotism is a weak political construct.  In its core, it is woefully incompetent and irredimably corrupt.  Regrettably, the same mistakes are being committed in the West’s dealings with President Xi’s politically equally incompetent and economically precariously corrupt People’s Republic of China.

As Russia’s illegitimate war against Ukraine has stalled and President Putin’s badly trained military is reduced to barbaric terrorism against civilians, President Xi’s excessively praised military is also weaker by degrees from its official presentations by the self-serving narratives of the Chinese Communist Party bureaucrats.  An effective military cannot be created, let alone maintained, unless its fundamental principles are rooted in the political, economic and moral stability of the government.  Since the People’s Republic of China’s political system has been based on the despotic reign of a succession of ruthless manipulators, oppression has always been an instrument of power that has been unleashed uncontrollably rather than moderated by reason.  In this context, President Xi, like Mao Zedong, abhors proven political and cultural principles of the pre-Communist era and has only used them for the sake of deception.  Accordingly, neither of them has been a realist – they both have been illusionary visionaries.  For men like these, nothing is more annoying than realists who try, albeit mostly unsuccessfully, to curb them. 

The results have been political leaders who are no longer pragmatists, namely, politically sane individuals.  In this manner, their underlings are nothing but useful idiots who have been tasked with fortifying the unrealistic illusionary visions of their Leader de jour.  Thus, the Chinese military mess has always been closely related to the regime’s manifold problems.  While Mao’s ragged “people’s army” has destroyed the existing as well as the old regimes and superimposed on their ruins the “Dictatorship of the Peasants and Workers,” it was incapable of establishing a stable and peaceful administration to replace them.  The product of all these vague aspirations and unrealistic visions is the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. 

Because of its badly defined functions within the Chinese version of Asiatic despotism, the People’s Liberation Army has been more a tool of domestic power struggle and oppression than a military designed to carry out offensive objectives.  When it did in 1969 in the Sino-Soviet border war, against Vietnam in 1979 in response to Vietnam’s military actions against the rule of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge, and the ongoing China-India border hostilities in Pangong Lake, in Ladakh as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region between 2020-2022, the Chinese military has done rather poorly.  Its ranks filled with the male products of Mao’s “one child policy,” those pampered boys’ mental strength and physical endurance could not match the discipline of their enemies.

The common denominator in Presidents Putin’s and  Xi’s policies is the desire to destroy the present order of the world in the belief that their successive creation would be better and more equitable.  Yet, by now it is abundantly clear that Russia has remained as backward as it has been for centuries and China’s economy has been in steady decline since 2013, when President Xi first ascended to the pinnacle of political and military power.  The case in point is Mr. Liu Ho’s recent desperate plea to foreign investors to stay with their Chinese investments, because there is nothing wrong with the Chinese economy.  Mr. Liu, who is the most influential economic advisor to President Xi, has promised major government actions to stimulate the economy to perform better.  However, a large dose of skepticism is in order.  The structural miseries of the Chinese command economy could only be solved by opening up the political system and by allowing both domestic and foreign businesses to operate under legally transparent conditions – without political pressures and the systematic as well as institutionalized Chinese corruption. Russia’s war on Ukraine has not been born out of the belligerence of NATO or the “Fascist” and “Genocidal” nature of President Zelenskyy’s administration.  It has been born – like all the previous wars of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union – of the political, economic, financial, cultural and moral disorder which this troubled country has been subjected to from its very inception in the middle of the 16th century.  The Chinese state in its present reincarnation is not different from President Putin’s self-engineered internal chaos and coming international catastrophe.  The fate of Hong Kong, the future of Taiwan, the completely illegal expansion of China in the South China Sea and beyond and the ubiquitous corruption accompanying China’s expansion across the globe, should be sufficient reasons to establish an uncompromising strategy against its wholesale attempts at global destruction.  If the anti-Russian and anti-Chinese coalitions remain strong, the world will be saved again from the monsters of evil despotisms.                            


Congress must protect IP from Big Tech and China

By George LandrithThe Desert Review

The U.S. economy runs on startups. For all of America’s mega-corporations, it’s young firms that create most of our new jobs during periods of economic growth. Those startups depend on America’s famously strong laws protecting their inventions and intellectual property. The only way someone with a big idea but minimal resources can out-compete established firms is through government protection of their innovations.

Today, we are failing in that responsibility. Our laxity is empowering predators foreign and domestic — endangering not only the next Apple, Microsoft, or Facebook, but our entire economy.

For years, the greatest threat to American intellectual property has been China. Chinese IP piracy became endemic — totaling an estimated $600 billion in costs to the U.S. per year. A CNBC survey of American corporations found that one-third had experienced IP theft by Chinese pirates. Testifying before Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “I think it’s well documented that the Chinese government steals technology from American companies.”

More telling than Zuckerberg’s acknowledgment was the strange equivocation by other Big Tech executives at the hearing. The CEOs of Apple, Amazon, and Google — individuals famous for their breadth of knowledge and laser focus on their businesses — all shrugged and testified only that they hadn’t personally seen any Chinese IP piracy.

There is a reason those firms might not want to shine a light on IP theft: it’s a valuable part of their own business models.

In January, the U.S. International Trade Commission issued a ruling finding that Google infringed on five patents belonging to Sonos, a company that makes smart speakers. The story is a worst-case scenario for a startup. Sonos developed one of the most advanced wireless audio systems in the market — a product so impressive that Google wanted to partner with the company. Sonos alleges that early in the partnership, Google lifted Sonos-patented technology for Google’s own audio equipment.

Sonos was no fluke. Google faced 48 patent infringement lawsuits in 2021. But Google is not the only perpetrator.

In 2020, a federal jury ordered Amazon to pay $5 million to Texas-based Vocalife for infringing on its patents. Apple was recently ordered to pay $300 million in damages to Optis Wireless Technology for infringement.

It’s no accident that the number of IP lawsuits rose in 2020 for the first time since 2015, and court awards rose to $4.67 billion from just $1.5 billion in 2019.

It makes holding China to account much harder. If the richest and most powerful businesses in America are ignoring our intellectual property laws — why shouldn’t our global adversaries?

The issue here isn’t complicated: When laws against theft aren’t enforced, thieves are going to steal. Slaps on the wrist aren’t going to deter pickpockets in Beijing, Silicon Valley, or anywhere else. Congress has to tighten up our IP laws and stiffen penalties, and the Justice Department needs to ramp up enforcement while there are still startups left to save.

One noteworthy aspect of the American Dream is that the most important businesses of 20 years from now are probably ones we haven’t heard of yet. In order for them to lead us into the future, the government must protect them from foreign adversaries and Big Tech.


Biden Touts Chinese-Backed Company at Made in America Event

Pentagon gives $35 million to subsidize MP Materials's rare earth mineral production

By Chuck RossThe Washington Free Beacon

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting on securing critical mineral supply chains (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House on Tuesday featured a mining company partially owned by a Chinese mining conglomerate at an event dedicated to strengthening the domestic supply chain.

President Joe Biden announced at the event that the Pentagon would award $35 million to the Las Vegas-based MP Materials in an effort to boost U.S. rare mineral production. But MP Materials has arguably allowed China to tighten its grip on the world’s rare earth minerals supply chain. Shenghe Resources Holding, which is partially owned by the Chinese government, owns 8 percent of the company. Shenge spearheaded the deal in 2017 to help MP Materials purchase a mine at Mountain Pass, Calif., out of bankruptcy. The Chinese company is also MP Materials’s largest customer, accounting for nearly all of its $100 million annual revenue.

MP Materials’s links to China have long concerned American officials. The Department of Energy warned its scientists in 2020 not to collaborate with MP Materials executives because of China’s links to the company, Reuters reported.

“Clearly, the MP Materials ownership structure is an issue,” Tom Lograsso, an official with the Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute, told Reuters.

The Pentagon award will subsidize MP Materials’s production of heavy rare earth minerals at its mine at Mountain Pass. The minerals are used to produce high-powered magnets used in electric vehicle motors, wind turbines, and defense systems.

James Kennedy, a consultant in the rare earth minerals industry, has raised concerns about other Pentagon grants to MP Materials. Kennedy called Shenghe’s investment in MP Materials a “geopolitical ruse” that helps China maintain a monopoly on the rare earth minerals market.

Those concerns have not deterred the White House. MP Materials chairman James Litinsky spoke at the virtual White House event alongside Biden, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D., Calif.), White House infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu, and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

Litinsky said MP Materials was “committed to bringing the supply chain home” to the United States but made no mention of his company’s links to Shenghe Resources Holding. He said MP Materials has partnered with General Motors to produce magnets for 500,000 electric vehicle motors.

It is unclear whether the Pentagon has placed any restrictions on MP Materials’s dealings with Shenghe going forward.

Shenghe’s investment in MP Materials is part of an ambitious plan to stabilize China’s supply of rare earth minerals. The company has also partnered with companies in Greenland and Australia to mine rare minerals, Quartz reported. One goal is to “consolidate the achievements of overseas cooperation projects.”

MP Materials did not respond to a request for comment.


Pentagon’s Latest Strategy: Promote Socialism To Combat China

By Adam KredoThe Washington Free Beacon

Getty Images

The Pentagon is slated to host an event on Wednesday making “the case for global justice and democratic socialism” as a means to combat China’s rise, sparking ire on Capitol Hill.

The event, titled, “Responding to China: The Case for Global Justice and Democratic Socialism,” is being hosted by the Institute for National Strategic Studies, a department of the National Defense University, the Pentagon’s top policy shop. The event is open to the public and will be held on the Pentagon’s Strategic Multilayer Assessment platform, a Defense Department initiative that studies global challenges, according to an invitation for the event posted online.

Featured speaker Thomas Piketty, a French economist, “will argue that the right answer” to addressing China’s rise “lies in ending Western arrogance and promoting a new emancipatory and egalitarian horizon on a global scale, a new form of democratic and participatory, ecological and post-colonial socialism,” according to the event invitation. “If they stick to their usual lecturing posture and a dated hyper-capitalist model, Western countries may find it extremely difficult to meet the Chinese challenge.” Piketty is the author of the book Time for Socialism.

The event, which was first reported by the Conservative Brief, is raising eyebrows on Capitol Hill, with Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, telling the Washington Free Beacon that the Biden administration is politicizing America’s military.

“Thanks to Joe Biden, our military is more political than ever and the world is less stable than it’s been in decades,” Banks said. “The Pentagon has a lot on its plate. They need to focus on their mission: keeping all Americans safe from foreign threats.”

Banks said events of this nature are becoming increasingly common and prove the findings of a recent congressional investigation that determined the U.S. military is distracted by political and cultural trends, impacting its warfighting readiness.

That report, authored by Banks and Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), pinpointed specific issues in the Navy and other branches of the service.

“Sometimes I think we care more about whether we have enough diversity officers than if we’ll survive a fight with the Chinese navy,” one lieutenant on active duty told congressional investigators in the report. “It’s criminal. They think my only value is as a black woman. But you cut our ship open with a missile and we’ll all bleed the same color.”

The study also found “there was a broad consensus across interviewees on numerous cultural and structural issues that impact the morale and readiness of the Navy’s surface force. These include: an insufficient focus on warfighting skills, the perception of a zero-defect mentality accompanied by a culture of micromanagement, and over-sensitivity and responsiveness to modern media culture.”

One recently retired senior enlisted officer was quoted in the report as saying, “I guarantee you every unit in the Navy is up to speed on their diversity training. I’m sorry that I can’t say the same of their ship-handling training.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.) and colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee additionally disclosed on Tuesday that the military has spent six million man-hours on “woke” training under the Biden administration.

The trainings were held after the Pentagon issued a controversial “stand down” order on Feb. 5, 2020, to address extremism in its ranks. In total, U.S. service members have spent 5,889,082 man-hours on discussions about extremism and “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” training, which the GOP leaders say is part of a leftist attempt to promote liberal ideologies in the military.

“We face real threats across the world, yet the Biden administration is more focused on promoting its leftist social agenda in the military instead of countering China, Russia and Iran or creating an effective counterterrorism plan,” Wicker and his colleagues said in a statement. “Our military is not an extremist organization, and our service members, by and large all good people, are dedicated, faithful patriots.”

A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the event, directing the Free Beacon to the National Defense University for comment. An email to the Institute for National Strategic Studies, which is hosting the event, was not returned by press time.


China’s Covid Victory Over America Turns Out to Be Pyrrhic

The pandemic has revealed Americans to be tacit Social Darwinists, while trapping the Chinese in a vast Panopticon.

By Niall FergusonBloomberg

Zero tolerance.
Zero tolerance.Photographer: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Authoritarian regimes tend to boast about themselves and denigrate their rivals. President Xi Jinping’s China is no exception. “As the Covid-19 epidemic takes away hundreds of lives every day in the U.S.,” wrote Hu Xijin, the former editor-in-chief of the Global Times, on Jan. 14, “that country’s propaganda machinery is engaging in vicious smears against China’s dynamic zero-case policy of epidemic prevention … Think about it. More than 800,000 Americans died from Covid-19 in the U.S. Behind these numbers, how many sad and desperate stories are there?”

“The experience and facts of the past two years,” wrote Guo Yan in the Economic Daily five days later, “have shown that China’s general strategy of ‘foreign defense against imported [cases] and domestic defense against breakouts’ and the general policy of ‘dynamic clearing’ are the Covid prevention policies best suited to China’s own national conditions on top of being beneficial to the world … It is the inaction and chaotic actions of some policy makers that have caused the American people to fall into the epidemic crisis time and time again.”

Might the Chinese be right? As we reach the second anniversary of the Covid pandemic, perhaps the most surprising thing is how many Americans have lost their lives compared to how few have perished in China. How are we to explain this astonishing divergence?

The simple answer is that, despite being the source of the virus that caused the pandemic, the Chinese managed containment very successfully, while the U.S. bungled everything from testing to mask-wearing to quarantining.

Some people go even further, arguing (as does Chinese Communist Party propaganda) that the difference in death tolls illustrates the superiority of China’s political system over America’s corrupt and self-indulgent democracy. However, I have never bought this second argument. And I am no longer satisfied with the first.

We now have a U.S. death toll of between (depending on your source) 860,000 and 883,000 deaths due to Covid, the 20th-highest mortality relative to population globally. Actual mortality is running at 19% above the expected figure (compared with 5% in Canada). We are heading for a million deaths by May. According to the Economist, we may already be there.

True, in relative terms — deaths per million — U.S. mortality is not the worst in the world (it ranks 19th). In terms of excess mortality, too, the U.S. has fared better than a number of Latin American and Eastern European countries. The puzzle remains that on paper — according to the Global Health Index published in 2019 — the U.S. was better prepared for a pandemic than any other country.

Even more remarkable is how few Chinese the new coronavirus has killed: Fewer than 5,000, meaning a death rate three orders of magnitude smaller than the U.S. rate. Considering that the pandemic originated in Wuhan, this is an astonishing achievement. Of course, skepticism is always warranted where Chinese statistics are concerned. But even the Economist’s estimates, which suggest that there may have been significantly higher excess mortality in China, point to a far lower relative death toll than in the U.S.

Two things explain the remarkably high mortality the U.S. has suffered in this pandemic. First, the American public health bureaucracy failed utterly. Initially, when we knew very little except that it was contagious and dangerous, the relevant agencies were staggeringly complacent when they should have been frantically testing, tracing and isolating.Sponsored ContentWhy Decisions Made Now Will Steer the Net Zero TrajectoryUBS

Then, in March 2020, the official mind flipped from complacency to panic, partly on the basis of a paper by the British epidemiologist Neil Ferguson (no relation), who argued that we had to lock people in their homes until vaccines were available or 2.2 million Americans would die.

As it became clear that this approach would wreck the global economy, the public health officials resorted to improvisation, alternately tightening and loosening restrictions on economic and social life in a reactive and mostly ineffective way. Masks were at first dismissed as unnecessary, then became mandatory even in some outdoor locations, where they served no purpose.

When some skeptical scientists challenged the wisdom of lockdowns, the public health establishment was dismissive. The Great Barrington Declaration, published in October 2020 by Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff, Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta and Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya, offered a persuasive critique of blanket pandemic lockdowns, arguing instead for “focused protection” of vulnerable groups such as the elderly or those with medical conditions.

“This proposal from the three fringe epidemiologists … seems to be getting a lot of attention,” Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, emailed Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. “There needs to be a quick and devastating published take down of its premises … Is it underway?”

Now that we have vaccines with high efficacy and a variant that causes mild flu-like symptoms in most vaccinated people, the official mind remains wedded to its playbook — in the parts of the U.S. where most people are vaccinated, such as northern California, where I live. Educational institutions have reverted to remote learning (an oxymoron, as everyone knows); masks are ubiquitous, even outdoors; a host of petty regulations persist.

Meanwhile, in the states with significant numbers of unvaccinated and vulnerable people, almost no precautions are taken. Consequently, the intensive care units are filling up once again. I make this the fifth wave of Covid in the U.S., and already mortality relative to population is higher than in South Africa, Denmark and the U.K., where the omicron variant struck sooner.

Yet there is a second reason for the relatively high American mortality during the pandemic, which has to do with public attitudes and behavior. I have come to the conclusion, after observing my fellow Americans for two years that — whatever our public health officials may tell us, and whatever some of us may say — in practice and in aggregate we are a nation of Social Darwinists.

Social Darwinism is a contentious term, I know, but its history is illuminating. A century ago, the ideas that came to be summed up as Social Darwinism by historians such as Richard Hofstadter were not limited to a far-right lunatic fringe. They derived from the writings of some of the era’s pre-eminent proponents of social progress.

Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) was the English philosopher who did most to import ideas derived from Charles Darwin and other evolutionary theorists (notably Jean-Baptiste Lamarck) into the study of contemporary human societies. In works such as “First Principles” (1862), “Principles of Biology” (1864) and “The Man Versus the State” (1884), Spencer sought to discern universal laws of evolution.

One of his key contentions was that most social interventions by government were harmful, no matter how well-intentioned, because they interfered with the natural laws of evolution, which were the main driver of progress.

Some Social Darwinists went even further, arguing that infectious disease had a role to play in promoting the survival of the fittest. Franz Ignaz Pruner, a German physician, anthropologist and racial theorist, wrote “The Global Cholera Pandemic and Nature’s Police” (1851), based partly on his observations in Egypt. Wherever Europeans and Americans established colonies in the tropics, officials would periodically muse that the terrifyingly high mortality rates arising from disease — and of course from poor sanitation and malnutrition — must, like famines in India, be part of some providential design.

It was a relatively short step from Social Darwinism to eugenics — the theory popularized by Francis Galton, Karl Pearson and others that government should actively promote the reproduction of the “fit” and limit the reproduction of the “unfit.”

It is easy to forget today how influential such notions were a century ago, when they appealed almost as much to progressives as to proto-fascists. Chicago sociologist and reformer Charles Henderson opposed immigration of the “unfit,” proposed that the “feebleminded and degenerate” be banished to rural labor colonies and sterilized to “prevent their propagation of defects and thus the perpetuation of their misery in their offspring.”

As Spencer had made clear, it was a guiding principle of Social Darwinism that public-health legislation “defeats its own end” and “favours the multiplication of those worst fitted for existence, and, by consequence, hinders the multiplication of those best fitted for existence.”

In “Social Statics,” he used language echoed today by American libertarians:  

If … it is the duty of the state to protect the health of its subjects, it is its duty to see that all the conditions of health are fulfilled by them. Shall this duty be consistently discharged? If so, the legislature must enact a national dietary: prescribe so many meals a day for each individual; fix the quantities and qualities of food, both for men and women; state the proportion of fluids, when to be taken, and of what kind; specify the amount of exercise, and define its character; describe the clothing to be employed … and to enforce these regulations it must employ a sufficiency of duly-qualified officials, empowered to direct every one’s domestic arrangements.

Like many of today’s critics of the public-health agencies, Spencer argued that the medical profession and bureaucrats were actuated by self-interest rather than altruism and had an “unmistakable wish to establish an organized, tax-supported class, charged with the health of men’s bodies, as the clergy are charged with the health of their souls.” 

Reading “Social Statics” today, you see how completely Spencer lost the argument. As we enter the third year of the Covid pandemic, the public-health clergy have established themselves in precisely the kind of well-paid positions of power that Spencer foresaw, leaving a motley array of lockdown skeptics and anti-vaxxers to rehash his old arguments.

I have tended to steer clear of the lockdown skeptics and to heap opprobrium on the anti-vaxxers. But what we really see in both cases is a kind of revival of Social Darwinism that extends beyond the militant opponents of lockdowns and vaccines to include the many millions of Americans who over the past two years have simply flouted the pandemic rules. Ignoring the prescriptions of an intrusive nanny state, or complying with them so carelessly as to render them ineffective, they have tacitly given free rein to the principle of the survival of the fittest.

Compared with Western Europeans and especially with East Asians, Americans have a remarkably high tolerance of excess mortality, especially when it is heavily concentrated in politically underrepresented social groups. The same is true with respect to the relatively high death toll from firearms that Americans tolerate, not forgetting the staggering mortality caused by opioid overdoses in the past decade, which has no parallel in any developed country. 

Now contrast the American experience of the pandemic with the Chinese. If Americans resemble modern-day Social Darwinists, the People’s Republic is a utilitarian Panopticon worthy of the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s idealized penitentiary of the late-18th century, which relied on prisoners’ uncertainty about whether they were under observation to incentivize good behavior.

No country has more effectively used non-pharmaceutical restrictions on social and economic life to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2 than China. True, these restrictions were widely imitated, as in New Zealand. But the reason they were more effective in China than elsewhere is precisely that the Communist Party’s system of surveillance creates what Bentham called “the sentiment of a sort of invisible omnipresence.”

And yet there turns out to be a catch, in the form of a new and much more infectious variant of the virus. In omicron, Xi Jinping’s Panopticon faces a new and ghastly challenge. Not only does the Chinese population have essentially no natural immunity from previous infections, thanks to the Zero-Covid strategy; the inferior Chinese-made vaccines also offer little protection against omicron. As a consequence, China must impose tighter restrictions than ever before.

Currently, over 20 million people are under some form of lockdown in half a dozen cities, notably Xian and Tianjin, because small numbers of people tested positive. Traditional Lunar New Year celebrations are being restricted. The Beijing Winter Olympics will take place with almost no foreign spectators. The volume of international flights to China has been reduced by more than 90%.

In some ways, China’s reversion to being a closed society is of a piece with Xi’s attempt to revive other aspects of Maoism: his reassertion of the Communist Party’s dominance over the private sector, his call for more egalitarian social outcomes, his intolerance of domestic dissent and ethnic minorities, his readiness to threaten war. But it is not at all clear how any of this helps the Chinese economy grow sufficiently fast to overtake that of the U.S.

By contrast, the American propensity to ignore (or at least honor mainly in the breach) the bureaucracy’s rules and regulations — combined with the opening of the fiscal and monetary floodgates — has meant that paradoxically, the public health disaster of the pandemic has been accompanied by an economic recovery so red-hot that U.S. inflation has jumped to a rate not seen since 1982.

In the eyes of today’s Western public health experts, none of this makes sense. Neil Ferguson gave an interview last year in which he described how he and his fellow scientific advisors to the British government realized that they might be able to copy the Chinese strategy for containing Covid. “People’s sense of what is possible in terms of control changed quite dramatically between January and March [2020],” he recalled. “They [i.e., the Chinese] claimed to have flattened the curve. I was sceptical at first. … But as the data accrued it became clear it was an effective policy.”

The question was: Could the West copy China’s lockdown?  “It’s a communist one-party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought,” said Ferguson. “And then Italy did it. And we realized we could.”

It continues to puzzle me that so many smart people were convinced that the People’s Republic of China should be the role model for a free society faced with a pandemic (as opposed to the East Asian democracies like South Korea and Taiwan that have contained the virus with minimal lockdowns). But that was the road we attempted to go down, inflicting immense economic disruption until we realized that it was unsustainable — that not even Ferguson (or, it turns out, the government he was advising) could adhere to a system of universal house arrest, much less don’t-tread-on-me Americans.

In the U.S. today, Covid has become as much a bureaucratic as a medical condition. Having had omicron in December, I and my family remain subject to a plethora of rules that make absolutely no sense, as we can neither catch nor transmit the virus again so soon after having been infected. I pointlessly wear a mask at meetings and on planes. I pointlessly submit to regular Covid tests. I pointlessly fill out online forms attesting to my children’s health.

Perhaps at some point this year a new variant — Pi, Rho, Sigma, take your pick — will emerge that I can catch and that will give me and others something more than a mild cold. But until that time comes, I shall feel a sense of individualist resentment — that I now realize is very American — about the whole dysfunctional edifice of rules and regulations. When (if?) they are finally swept away, I shall rejoice.

And, if the Chinese Panopticon finally loses control of Chinese virus in this, the third plague year, I’ll recall that, in the history of struggles between rival empires, the fitness that determines survival is seldom correlated with a state’s power over the individual — or its propensity to boast.


How The United States Needs To Start Deterring China From Taking Over Taiwan

By Rebeccah HeinrichsThe Federalist

China military

Deterring Chinese aggression against Taiwan is realistic and must be the commitment of any U.S. leader who refuses to accept American decline. Americans agree that China poses a serious threat to the United States, but there is disagreement about the ways China poses a problem and to what degree we can and should do something about it.

China’s economic coercion, censorship, theft, and pernicious efforts to make America more like China, or at least make Americans of the view that there is nothing wrong with the Chinese Communist way, are meant to help China exert greater influence over U.S. business, trade, speech, religious expression, travel, medicine, etc. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) snuffing out of liberties in Hong Kong and its domestic repression make perfectly clear what the CCP values and what behavior, speech, and thought they reward and punish.

China’s growing influence over U.S. culture, sports, and big business leaders will not simply fizzle out on its own. Stopping Chinese domination will require determined U.S. leadership. To do what, exactly? To untangle our countries’ financial interdependence, to create significant disincentives for Americans to bend to the CCP’s preferences and demands, to reshore critical manufacturing, to revitalize American education in research and technology, and to reassert U.S. sovereignty and promote and defend the American way of life.

So the astute American who appreciates how badly this country needs highly motivated and sustained political leadership to support a renewal in our civic and democratic institutions will also appreciate that this national renewal necessarily includes competing with and at times confronting China.

China’s Influence Due to Size and Military

China has become much more influential in international institutions such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization, in addition to private companies, because of the size of its economy and the strength of its military. China has been amassing a large, precise, and diverse arsenal of missiles and has practiced using them against mockups of U.S. ships and the bases the United States has in the region. China has also built a Navy bigger than ours. It has invested in cutting-edge space and cyberspace technologies.

As China grows in strength militarily and economically, relative to the United States, it grows in its ability to coerce and pressure the United States and our allies. As China scholar Denny Roy summarized in an essay, China’s hegemonic intent is increasingly hard to deny:

Equally obviously, however, Beijing pressures, corrupts and coerces foreign governments to act in support of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) agenda in various ways, including military intimidationcutting off tradebribing foreign officialsgrey zone activities, harassment in contravention of professional norms, hostage diplomacycyberwarfare and collusion with other outlaw governments. The frequent result is Beijing forcing other governments to abandon their preferred course of action – to ‘suffer what they must.’

Where Taiwan Fits in China’s Plan

This brings us to the question of Taiwan. “Unifying” the vibrant democratic and capitalist Taiwanese island to mainland communist China is the CCP’s highest priority. China has been harassing Taiwan incessantly, trying to intimidate and cause to despair its population of 24 million, who have repeatedly voted to remain autonomous and free.

Reasonable and decent people agree that Communist China’s ongoing assault against Taiwan is unjust, and that China is the aggressor against the democratic island that just wants to be left alone. But the first step for the CCP to establish hegemony over Eurasia is to overturn the status quo and to absorb Taiwan — including by military force if necessary.

Adm. Phil Davidson, in his outgoing congressional testimony as head of the Indo-Pacific Command last spring, estimated that China would invade Taiwan in six years. Analysts now refer to this ominous prediction as the “Davidson Window.”

The debate over whether the United States should be concerned over Taiwan’s fate would be more constructive if people knew that successfully deterring Chinese aggression against Taiwan is technically possible. It is. This is not to suggest the steps necessary to deter Chinese aggression are easy; they are not. But the steps are eminently doable, and defeatism is unwarranted.

Deterrence Must Be Sustained

But whatever we are going to do to deter Chinese aggression must begin now and be sustained over the next several years and then for the foreseeable future. Presumably Chinese leaders have not attempted to forcibly occupy Taiwan up until this point because they are not confident that the cost would be worth the gain.

The job before the United States is to make sure they continue to draw this conclusion. Broadly, this will require the United States to lead a coalition (the Aussies and Japanese are on board) to credibly convince the Chinese that we would prevent China from getting across the 80 miles of ocean to the Taiwan Strait before it could launch a full-scale invasion.

First, arm and cooperate heavily with our allies. This includes Taiwan, whose officials and public opinion polls repeatedly show have the will to fight off CCP invaders. Taiwanese polling data over the past several years emphatically shows a willingness of the people of Taiwan to fight (almost 80 percent in a recent poll) despite CCP disinformation to convey the opposite.

Importantly, a leading Taiwanese analyst noted: “the more supportive the United States appears, the more confident the people are; when the United States is less supportive, the people then lean toward China.” But they need to spend a lot more money on their defense and they must buy the right kinds of weapon systems necessary to pose an asymmetrical threat. We should insist they do so, privately.

There are other good conversations going on now to collaborate with allies for “capacity building,” for example, stockpiling munitions in and with Japan. But Japan should also buy from the United States and field a long-range strike capability. That’s still politically fraught in Japan, but less than it used to be, as Japan stares down the proverbial barrel of a CCP gun. 

Good things are happening without the United States, too, but our steady hand in the region is undoubtedly needed. (Japanese warships have cooperated with Taiwanese warships to get Chinese ships to back off Taiwan.) There is also considerable potential for basing Unmanned Aerial Systems in the nearby Japanese and Philippine islands and Guam with relatively small landing strips. Unmanned Aerial Systems with long-range strike missiles could be formidable against transport ships, for example.

Hardening U.S. Assets

Second, the United States must prepare to withstand and then prevail in a Chinese-initiated missile attack. This means working on defenses to limit the damage of an attack and deploy offensive weapons to respond with formidable combat power. This requires hardening U.S. assets with passive and active defenses.

The good news is we can get started on this now if we do not permit bureaucratic inertia to get in the way. We don’t need more government reports to tell us it would be extremely good to put a robust (not impenetrable!) missile defense architecture that includes the full spectrum of already developed missile defense systems on the U.S. territory Guam.

Guam will be critical for any U.S. effort to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific and to prevent China from dominating it. It also means investing in new technologies like hypersonic weapons and defenses and the attendant sensor and tracking architecture. Some of this good work is underway but it needs to move faster. Our testing programs should also move faster and more obviously demonstrate a real-world ability against a Chinese attack. It also means investing in underwater warfare capabilities — submarines, submarines, submarines.

Revitalize Nuclear Deterrence

Third, the United States must revitalize and update our nuclear deterrence so it disabuses a potentially dangerous Chinese misunderstanding that it would be wise to use a low-yield nuclear weapon against U.S. forces. Well-meaning idealists might wish that nuclear weapons and their deterrent impact have no role in contemporary geopolitics. But our adversaries do not share that wish. In 2017, China announced its intention to build a “world-class military by the middle of the century.” 

To their mind, this clearly means they want to be on the same level as the United States — and Russia (which has far more theater nuclear weapons than the United States) in nuclear weapons. Estimates are that China will at least double its nuclear warhead stockpile in the next decade.

Because the United States has not invested in theater-range nuclear weapons, China has exploited this. As Dr. Christopher Yeaw, who was the chief scientist of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC)and theDepartment of Energy’s lead official in the development and rollout of the 2018 Trump administration Nuclear Posture Reviewhas written:

In these wargames, adversary crossing of the nuclear threshold has been deemed by players as quite credible, given the paucity of reciprocal US deterrent capabilities and the minimized collateral damage afforded by such adversarial employment. US players have found response options to be uncomfortably insufficient or even non-credible, largely because of a paucity of sufficient prompt, assured, proportional NSNW capability.

To bolster deterrence in the China context, we should address the paucity and we should be fully modernizing and adapting U.S. nuclear deterrence — not weakening, restricting, or shrinking it.

China has imperialistic ambitions, and it is naïve to insist it is not so. But, like the United States, it also has problems. We should not permit defeatism to reign, thereby surrendering the next century to one where Chinese Communism is the most influential global power. 

China’s pandemic-spreading, bullying, coercion, lying, and opacity generally, but especially during the last two years, has seriously harmed its global reputation and galvanized U.S.-led coalitions opposing it. We have ample reason to be encouraged that we can exploit China’s weaknesses while keeping clear eyes to the threat and necessary moves to fight for American preeminence. 

The goal for the United States must be to prevent a war with China and to fight for American sovereignty. The goal is to deter aggression that could lead to further escalation. If deterrence fails, we should be prepared to outmaneuver and out-muscle China to cause them to back down.

War is always a tragic outcome — but it is sometimes not the worst outcome. We could simply let the Chinese Communists take democratic Taiwan and the rest of Eurasia while we focus on worthy domestic debates and crises at home; and when we are finished with those domestic fights, we will look up to see that our country is at the mercy of Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communism. It is not a good trade.

We can successfully take on our domestic challenges while deterring CCP domination, and in doing so, preserve and strengthen American security and the American way of life — and we must.


Citing ‘Safety’ Concerns, China Tears Down Statue Commemorating Tiananmen Massacre Victims

By Edmond Ng and Jessie PangThe Washington Free Beacon

A woman and child look at the ‘Pillar of Shame’, a statue that commemorates the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing, at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in Hong Kong on October 10, 2021. / Getty Images

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A leading Hong Kong university has dismantled and removed a statue from its campus site that for more than two decades has commemorated pro-democracy protesters killed during China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

The artwork, of anguished human torsos, is one of the few remaining public memorials in the former British colony to remember the bloody crackdown that is a taboo topic in mainland China, where it cannot be publicly commemorated.

Known as the “Pillar of Shame,” the statue was a key symbol of the wide-ranging freedoms promised to Hong Kong at its 1997 return to Chinese rule, which differentiated the global financial hub from the rest of China.

The city has traditionally held the largest annual vigils in the world to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

The Council of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) said in an early Thursday statement it made the decision to remove the statue during a Wednesday meeting, “based on external legal advice and risk assessment for the best interest of the University”.

“The HKU Council has requested that the statue be put in storage, and that the University should continue to seek legal advice on any appropriate follow up action,” it said.

Late on Wednesday night, security guards placed yellow barricades around the eight-metre (26-foot) high, two-tonne copper sculpture.

Two Reuters journalists saw scores of workmen in yellow hard hats enter the statue site, which had been draped on all sides by white plastic sheeting and was being guarded by dozens of security personnel.

Loud noises from power tools and chains emanated from the closed off area for several hours before workmen were seen carrying out the top half of the statue and winching it up on a crane towards a waiting shipping container.

A truck later drove the container away early on Thursday. The site of the statue was covered in white plastic sheets and surrounded by yellow barricades. University staff later placed pots of Poinsettia flowers, a popular Christmas decoration in Hong Kong, around the barricades.

‘MEMORIES WRITTEN WITH BLOOD’

Several months ago, the university had sent a legal letter to the custodians of the statue, a group which organised the annual June 4 vigils and has since disbanded amid a national security investigation, asking for its removal.

A June 4 museum was raided by police during the investigation and shut, and its online version cannot be accessed in Hong Kong.

Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot, who created the statue, said in a statement he was “totally shocked” and that he would “claim compensation for any damage” to his private property.

Galschiot, who values the statue at around $1.4 million, had offered to take it back to Denmark, but said his presence in Hong Kong was necessary for the complex operation to go well and asked for reassurances he would not be prosecuted.

HKU said in its statement that no party had ever obtained approval to display the statue on its campus and that it had the right to take “appropriate actions” any time. It also called the statue “fragile” and said it posed “potential safety issues.”

Tiananmen survivor Wang Dan, who now lives in the United States, condemned the removal in a Facebook post as “an attempt to wipe off history and memories written with blood.”

The campus was quiet early on Thursday, with students on holiday. Some students dropped by the campus overnight after hearing the news.

“The university is a coward to do this at midnight,” said 19-year-old student surnamed Chan. “I feel very disappointed as it’s a symbol of history.”

Another student surnamed Leung said he was “heart-broken” to see the statue “being cut into pieces”.

TIANANMEN ERASED

The removal of the statue is the latest step targeting people or organisations affiliated with the sensitive June 4, 1989, date and events to mark it.

Authorities have been clamping down in Hong Kong under a China-imposed national security law that human rights activists say is being used to suppress civil society, jail democracy campaigners and curb basic freedoms.

Authorities say the law has restored order and stability after massive street protests in 2019. They insist freedom of speech and other rights remain intact and that prosecutions are not political.

China has never provided a full account of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Officials gave a death toll of about 300, but rights groups and witnesses say thousands may have been killed.

“What the Communist Party wants is for all of us to just forget about this (Tiananmen). It’s very unfortunate,” John Burns, a political scientist at the university for over 40 years who had called for the statue to remain, told Reuters.

“They would like it globally to be forgotten.”

(Additional reporting by Sara Cheng, Alun John, Eduardo Baptista and Marius Zaharia; Writing by James Pomfret and Marius Zaharia; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Michael Perry)


Diplomatic Boycott Of Olympics Shows Biden’s Weakness On China

The announcement of the boycott came as the administration lobbied Congress to weaken a bill regarding the forced labor of Uyghurs.

By Helen RaleighThe Federalist

Diplomatic Boycott Of Olympics Shows Biden’s Weakness On China
Photo Sasha India/Flickr

The Biden administration announced it will hold a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, meaning U.S. athletes will still attend and compete, but the U.S. government won’t send any officials. The Chinese government vowed to retaliate.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration made the decision due to China’s ongoing human rights violations. Activists and human rights organizations have been calling to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics since 2015. The Chinese government’s recent forced “disappearance” and “reappearance” of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has only energized the boycotting Beijing Winter Olympics movement. The Biden administration’s announcement is a welcome step.

But the announcement took place at the same time the administration faced criticism of its lobbying Congress to weaken a bill regarding the forced labor of Uyghurs. Those two contradictory actions raise questions about whether the administration is committed to standing up to China and upholding universal values such as human rights.

Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, aiming to “ensure that goods tainted with the forced labor of Uyghurs, and others, in the Xinjiang” do not enter the U.S. market. In July, the U.S. Senate passed its version of a similar bill co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. But House Democrats stalled the bill until it passed Wednesday 428-1, as the Biden administration asked Democrats to slow and water down the bill.

Resistance from Biden Administration

Two key players led the Biden administration’s lobbying efforts. One is the administration’s climate czar John Kerry, who reportedly lobbied against the bill out of the fear it would dissuade Beijing’s cooperation on climate change. Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., criticized Kerry on social media.

Another key player is Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. According to the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin, “Sherman’s specific criticism relates to a part of the bill that would require a presumption that all products coming from Xinjiang are tainted by forced labor unless the importer can prove otherwise.” Big corporations such as Apple have been lobbying against the same provision since last year. It is not a coincidence that the Biden administration and big corporations’ interests are aligned.

Frustrated by House Democrats’ inaction, Rubio reintroduced the Uyghur forced labor bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate Democrats used a procedural excuse to block the vote on Rubio’s amendment. Rubio tweeted, “The Biden Administration is actively working to stop the passage of an anti-slavery bill targeting # China’s genocide. That is why they don’t want my amendment on this to get on the defense bill.”

Why did the Biden administration act as if the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) atrocities against Uyghur Muslims is reason to hold a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, but not to support a bill that will prevent goods tainted with forced Uyghur laborers’ blood, sweat, and tears from entering the U.S. market?

Administration’s Ambivalence

Since day one, the Biden administration’s China policy has been full of contradictions like these. On the one hand, it continued some of former President Donald Trump’s tough approaches on China, including expanding the Trump-era blacklist of Chinese companies that Americans companies should not invest in.

The Biden administration also deepened the U.S. partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom by establishing the AUKUS. This alliance will begin with helping Australia develop nuclear-powered submarines as a counterweight to China’s naval expansion in the Asia Pacific.

On the other hand, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced plans to bring American executives to China and further deepen Sino-U.S. economic ties as if everything is fine. The Biden administration also repeatedly capitulated to the CCP’s hostage diplomacy.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) set free China telecom giant Huawei’s senior executive Meng Wanzhou, although Meng admitted she was guilty of some of DOJ’s charges. In return, China released two Canadian hostages it had detained since 2018.

Days before president Biden and Chinese leader Xi Xinping’s virtual summit, the Biden administration sent back to China seven Chinese nationals who were found guilty and served prison terms in the United States. In return, China permitted one U.S. citizen it illegally detained and never formally charged to return to the United States.

During Biden and Xi’s highly anticipated virtual summit, Biden didn’t even bring up important topics such as how the CCP has obstructed an international investigation of the origins of Covid-19.

The Biden administration’s messages on Taiwan are especially confusing. During a CNN town hall, President Biden said that the United States was committed to defending Taiwan if it came under attack from China. The next day the White House clarified that the president wasn’t announcing any policy on Taiwan. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, warned: “Words are important, and we can’t be careless in how we talk about an issue that is so vital to U.S. interests and the security of the Indo-Pacific.”

Ramifications of Incoherent Policy

It seems that after being on the job for almost a year, the Biden administration still doesn’t have a coherent China policy. The mixed signals the administration sent are problematic for three reasons.

First, they do not inspire confidence in the American people that the administration has the competency to protect them and American interests. Consequently, people may not want to lend the administration the popular support it needs to make difficult choices when confronting China.

Second, when the United States needs its allies to establish a united front to stand up to China and uphold universal values, few will follow the U.S. lead because of a lack of confidence that the Biden administration has the political will to see it through.

Third, the CCP may take the Biden administration’s mixed signals as a sign of weakness and be encouraged to take risky actions, such as invading Taiwan sooner rather than later. China’s invasion of Taiwan will not only threaten regional peace but also jeopardize the survival of the liberal democratic world order.

The great power struggle between the United States and China is the most consequential event in our lifetime. Ambiguity in policies and mixed signals could lead to disastrous consequences. The Biden administration needs to show clarity, commitment, and coherence in its China policy.


China Vows To Open Fire on US Troops That Come to Taiwan’s Aid

By Adam KredoThe Washington Free Beacon

Hypothetical attack points from China to Taiwan (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

China’s military “will heavily attack U.S. troops who come to Taiwan’s rescue” if a war between China and Taiwan breaks out, a possibility that is increasingly likely as the Communist regime readies its war machine on Taiwan’s borders.

The latest threat to attack the United States during any standoff between China and Taiwan was issued Thursday in the Global Times, an official Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece that prints the regime’s propaganda. “It is credible that the [People’s Liberation Army] will heavily attack U.S. troops who come to Taiwan’s rescue,” the paper wrote. “Such credibility is increasingly overwhelming the deterrence that U.S. troops may have.”

China’s latest threat to escalate tensions with Taiwan comes on the heels of remarks by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who said the United States is prepared to counter an attempt by China to forcefully seize Taiwan and bring it back into the Communist country’s orbit. The long-simmering standoff comes as the Biden administration confronts Russian attempts to invade Ukraine, a situation that could also prompt U.S. intervention.

China has been threatening to take Taiwan since the Biden administration took office, leading the United States to bolster the island’s defense and warn the CCP against escalation. Thursday’s Global Times editorial marks one of the first times in recent memory that China has actually threatened to attack U.S. troops who might come to Taiwan’s aid.

“If Washington supports the Taiwan authority’s path of seeking secession and encourages the Taiwan authority to rely on it, then reunification by force will definitely happen. The more the U.S. and the island of Taiwan collude, the sooner reunification by force will come,” the propaganda outlet wrote.

Sullivan on Tuesday said in response to questions from reporters that the United States is out to ensure a forceful Chinese takeover of Taiwan “never happens.” The Global Times in its editorial responded directly, saying China will not back down from its reunification effort.

“Mr. Sullivan, please be advised to sort out your mind carefully and think about what bargaining chips you do have in your hands to intimidate the Chinese mainland which is determined to achieve national reunification and has various strategic tools to resist blackmail,” the paper wrote. “You will find your hands empty. Therefore, don’t have a big mouth, Mr. Sullivan, otherwise you will only create more embarrassment for your country.”


Congress Should Stand against Uyghur Slavery

Unfortunately, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Biden officials keep erecting roadblocks.

By The EditorsNational Review

Ethnic Uyghur demonstrators take part in a protest against China in Istanbul, Turkey, October 1, 2021. (Dilara Senkaya/Reuters)

Biden administration officials took to their new posts earlier this year with the pledge that they are “putting human rights back at the center of U.S. foreign policy.” An ongoing congressional fight puts the lie to that promise. 

According to a new report by Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin, deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman expressed the administration’s desire to water down and slow-walk legislation addressing Uyghur forced labor during a call with Senator Jeff Merkley, a cosponsor of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

At issue was a core component of that bill — a provision that presumes any goods imported from the Xinjiang region were produced using forced labor, unless companies prove otherwise. This makes sense, considering that the tangled multinational supply chains with roots in Xinjiang regularly source materials produced with slave labor; it’s difficult to confirm which products are untainted and therefore in violation of U.S. law. But according to Rogin’s account, Sherman said the administration wanted “a more targeted and deliberative approach” and warned against a unilateral U.S. effort to address the problem.

Translation: Sherman wanted to significantly weaken the legislation. Despite lawyerly White House denials, the administration is clearly lobbying against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act — and it is doing so in a way that, as Rogin points out, lines up with the position of major corporations who also oppose the legislation.

Just as important, Sherman’s involvement indicates that the push against the initiative is more than the work of John Kerry, desperate to make cooperation with China on climate the top priority of the U.S., human rights be damned.

All of this makes it easier to understand a rank display of political gamesmanship that played out on Capitol Hill this week just ahead of Rogin’s scoop.

Senate Democrats blocked Senator Marco Rubio’s latest attempt to insert the Uyghur forced-labor legislation into the annual defense-authorization package. The Senate actually passed the Uyghur bill unanimously in July, but the House still hasn’t put it to a vote. Frustrated by the House’s delay, Rubio initially tried to get it into the defense bill a week before Thanksgiving but was blocked. He was stymied for the second time this week.

Senate majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi hid behind a procedural excuse, arguing that measures with a bearing on appropriations must begin in the House. But this was a smokescreen. For one, the legislation would have an “insignificant” impact on revenues and spending, according to the Congressional Budget Office. And if Pelosi had actually wanted to advance the act, she could have done so easily at any point since July.

Pelosi relented Thursday when she met with Representative Jim McGovern, an author of the House’s version of the forced-labor bill. Rubio had hinted that a House vote on the Uyghur legislation could get him to drop his objections to moving the NDAA process along. Just after his meeting with Pelosi, McGovern announced that his bill would indeed receive a vote in the House — a victory for Rubio.

But the act is still far from the finish line. Even if the House adopts McGovern’s bill, that would only begin a new process around that measure (which differs from the Senate version), and there would be many points at which the administration or corporate interests could continue to block or attempt to gut it. 

In a hard-hitting floor speech Thursday coming to Rubio’s defense amid attacks by Schumer and Pelosi, Senator Mitt Romney pointed to a green motivation for opposition to the act: “Democrats want cheap batteries for their so-called Build Back Better agenda, and nearly 80 percent of the rare earths, including other materials like lithium and cobalt and the like that are used to make these batteries, come from China.”

Meanwhile, companies with sizable supply-chain footprints in Xinjiang will remain dug in against the bill. About a year ago, the New York Times reported that Apple, Nike, and Coke lobbied against key components of the legislation. 

More broadly, following last month’s virtual summit between Biden and Xi Jinping, the White House will be focused on keeping dialogue with the party on track and free of stumbling blocks. 

An effort to disentangle corporate American from an ongoing atrocity shouldn’t be consider an inconvenience to be dispensed with, though. If the U.S. is going to prevail in the geopolitical competition with China, it will require an effort on all fronts, not just involving a robust defense budget, strong alliances, and pushback against Chinese espionage and industrial theft, but a willingness to shine a light on the CCP’s grotesque human-rights abuses. 

Rubio has been right to be relentless on this, and he should keep it up.


U.S. Space Academies Prioritize ‘Diversity’ And ‘Inclusion’ As China Prepares To Eclipse U.S. In Space

By Tristan JusticeThe Federalist

U.S. Space Academies Prioritize ‘Diversity’ And ‘Inclusion’ As China Prepares To Eclipse U.S. In Space
Photo VideoFromSpace / YouTube

The United States may soon lose its status as a truly global superpower, both on Earth and in the heavens of low orbit.

“The threats are really growing and expanding every single day,” Space Force Vice Chief of Operations Gen. David Thompson warned in an interview with the Washington Post published Tuesday.

As the Chinese and Russians continue to enhance their capabilities beyond Earth-bound gravity, the United States finds itself in the midst of a new 21st-century space race, competing with world powers developing new weapons to target satellites.

“We’re really at a point now where there’s a whole host of ways that our space systems can be threatened,” Thompson said, adding U.S. satellites already face attacks “every single day” whether it be by laser, cyber, or frequency jammers.

China is building its own version of satellite-based global positioning systems, said Thompson. That’s in addition to the ‘couple of hundred’ intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance satellites China has now deployed to watch over any part of the globe. China is also putting satellites into space at twice the rate of the United States, meaning that if nothing changes on our end, China will surpass the United States in capability in space in a few years, he estimated.

‘We are still the best in the world, clearly in terms of capability. They’re catching up quickly,’ he said. ‘We should be concerned by the end of this decade if we don’t adapt.’

The nation’s stated 10-year goals in space, however, aren’t focused on countering global threats with enhancements in low-orbit technology.

On Nov. 4., the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released its 10-year survey outlining priorities with funding recommendations over the next 10 years in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. Among them include probing Earth-like planets beyond our solar system, studying the nature of black holes, and seeking to “revolutionize understanding” of galaxy evolution. The report, commissioned by NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Air Force, also makes racially divisive efforts at “diversity” and “inclusion” a centerpiece of its instruction, even tying grant money to compliance.

“This survey was strongly influenced by the urgent need to advance diversity, equality, and inclusion in all aspects of society,” the authors wrote, highlighting the proliferation of the Black Lives Matter movement. “There is momentum to effect change, and the time is overdue to actively focus on these activities. Changing the defaults under which astronomy is practiced will only happen with energetic engagement and a diversity-, equity-, and inclusion-focused lens.”

While China quickly weaponizes space, testing a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in October that can remain in orbit, the woke industrial complex distracts U.S. priorities. The goal to “develop and diversify the scientific workforce” is listed as a “foundational activity” with commitments to “equity.” Equity is mentioned 94 times in the more than 600-page report.

“The ugly realization of continued discrimination in the form of racism, bias, and harassment hampers progress towards building a fully diverse and inclusive workforce,” the authors wrote, justifying recommendations to ramp up data collection efforts to study racism in science. “At the core of a diversity-, equity-, and inclusivity-focused approach is the need for data to evaluate equitable outcomes of proposal competitions.”

The report specifically demands NASA, the Department of Energy, and the National Sciences Foundation (NSF) to consider diversity “in the evaluation of funding awards to individual investigators, project and mission teams, and third-party organizations that manage facilities.”

While not a military agency, the congressionally chartered nonprofit seeks to “inform policy” as an intellectual backbone on major issues, steering agency priorities in the process. The group’s report, commissioned by the federal government, illustrates a misplaced focus on skin color as opposed to a strategy exclusively centered on technology and innovation.

Meanwhile, the Chinese are set to race ahead in space and global warfare capabilities.


America needs more than ‘guardrails’ with China

The Biden-Xi summit revealed only the irreconcilable differences between Washington and Beijing

By Michael R. AuslinThe Spectator World

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President Joe Biden meets with China’s President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White House (Getty)

As recently as a week ago, there was talk that Monday night’s virtual summit between President Joe Biden and Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping was an opportunity to “reset” the US-China relationship. By the time the two leaders sat down in front of their video screens, the summit had been downgraded to a “meeting” and the White House made clear that little concrete agreement, and no breakthrough, was to be expected.

The meeting lived down to expectations, uneasily combining a more sober and realistic US assessment of the parlous state of bilateral ties with what seems a return to a pre-2017 model of surface bonhomie and references to the “the long-term work that we need to do together,” according to a senior US official. Despite the assurances that Biden wants meaningful and substantive discussions, from Taiwan to AI to hypersonic missiles, the flashpoints between Beijing and Washington continue to grow with little indication that the conflictual trajectory can be altered. The challenge facing Biden and his team is how to deliver on their stated goal of “outperforming” the Chinese while preventing an open clash between the two.

Beyond Xi ironically calling Biden his “old friend,” given Biden’s previous assertion that they are not, the three-and-a-half hour meeting did little to reduce any tension between Washington and Beijing. The sparse readout from the White House instead revealed two sides with largely irreconcilable differences over everything from Taiwan to trade. As a senior administration official noted just before the meeting, the administration is “not trying to change China through bilateral engagement [because] we don’t think that’s realistic.” Xi’s own rhetoric makes clear that the CCP sees itself in a continuous struggle with America and the liberal West, and that not only rejects, but seeks to undermine liberal norms abroad.

Biden and his team seem to be embracing the reality that the days of cooperative engagement with China are long gone. The mantra now is “managing the competition” and installing “common sense guardrails” to avoid armed conflict. Given Beijing’s repeated refusal to discuss crisis management or confidence building measures to improve maritime security, or to engage in discussion over nuclear weapons, calling for guardrails appears to be little more than wishful thinking.

More importantly, one must compete in a competition, and after Monday’s videoconference and contentious, if not failed meetings between administration officials and Chinese in Alaska and Beijing, the administration must come up with a realistic plan of not simply holding the line, but actually advancing American interests. That starts with a serious examination of the greatest risks in the US-China relationship, and honestly assessing what the US can and will do about them.

At the top of the list is Taiwan, where it seems the height of folly for Beijing to abandon its policy of long-term patience and instead risk an armed conflict with Taipei and Washington. Yet, Xi warned Biden yet again over increased US support for Taiwan. Beijing also is not willing to sit by and watch as other nations in Asia and around the globe pledge support for Taipei, thereby raising the costs of any potential Chinese intervention. Of particular concern to the CCP is Japan’s seeming willingness to get involved in a Taiwan crisis. For Biden, he must decide how far to push Beijing on Taiwan and whether he will seriously risk war with the world’s second largest military.

On AI, hypersonics, 5G and the like, Biden needs to come up with a serious plan to ensure American and allied industrial and technological competitiveness over the next generation. Here, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s inclusion of the US Innovation and Competition Act in the annual defense bill, is a step in the right direction, and far better than the pork-laden $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that Biden signed just before his meeting with Xi (none of which should benefit Chinese construction companies).

Biden’s new rhetorical realism is welcome, and he is right to focus on developing American domestic strength. Yet he, and those leaders who come after him, must embrace the uncomfortable reality that Beijing and Washington are not merely competing, but are in an increasingly adversarial relationship, as acknowledged recently by CIA director Bill Burns. Beijing aims at neutralizing the US position in Asia, weakening countries it considers adversaries, dominating the global economy so as to add further to Chinese wealth, and ensuring the survival of its authoritarian, Leninist model of control inside China.

American policymakers are just beginning to break a half-century habit of seeing “win-win” outcomes (as the Chinese would put it) from US-China ties. Avoiding self-delusion is hard enough, but the real work is just beginning. Monday’s Biden-Xi meeting will soon be forgotten as tensions once again rise. The question is whether America has a serious plan to meet the most critical test of its abilities since the 1940s, and possibly since the 1860s.


The Vaporware Summit

President Biden rewards a hostile China

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Biden Xi
President Biden and (on the monitor) Chinese president Xi Jinping / Getty Images

And you think your Zoom calls are important. On the evening of November 15, President Biden spoke over video for three and a half hours with China’s autocrat Xi Jinping. The “virtual summit” was held online because Xi hasn’t left China since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic two years ago. According to official readouts of the conversation, Biden and Xi talked to one another warmly. They covered a lot of ground—everything from ICBMs to global energy supplies. They took the first steps toward improved relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Global media amplified this official message. “The Biden-Xi Summit Was Actually Kind of a Big Deal,” read one headline in Slate.

Don’t believe it. Biden’s tête-à-tête with Xi Jinping was less constructive and more harmful than his in-person visit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in June. At least Biden got something, however insignificant, from that earlier encounter with authoritarianism. The United States and the Russian Federation issued a brief joint statement on nuclear “strategic stability.” They established a “Strategic Stability Dialogue” that would “lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.” The dialogue began in September. Will it go anywhere? Probably not. But the mind-numbing diplomatic process has started. And it involves real people, meeting in real five-star hotels, in real European cities.

That’s not the case with China. The only thing Xi gave Biden was a pledge to make a pledge sometime in the future. The virtual summit was vaporware—the promise of a possible conversation that doesn’t yet exist and most likely never will. At a Brookings Institution event on November 16, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the two heads of state decided to “look to begin to carry forward discussion on strategic stability.” Try saying that diplomatic tongue-twister three times fast. It’s the equivalent of a contestant on The Bachelor gushing, “I think I’m maybe beginning to fall in love with you.” I translate Sullivan’s gobbledygook this way: Xi and Biden had a conversation about having a conversation about China’s rising stockpile of nuclear warheads and the threat it poses to global security and nonproliferation. Nothing more.

This doesn’t even rise to the level of negotiating for the sake of negotiating. It’s talking about having negotiations for the sake of … well, what exactly? Talking some more? Reminding Xi of all the good times he spent on the phone with Biden a decade ago? Apparently, at the outset of the discussion, Xi used a friendly idiom to describe the U.S. president. Whoop-de-do. Does that signal a meaningful change in China’s behavior on trade, the pandemic, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, North Korea, and Taiwan? Of course not.

On the contrary: The most powerful, ideological, and despotic ruler of China since Mao Zedong used this opportunity to remind the U.S. president that the only guarantee of good relations with the PRC is to get out of its way. Even more worrisome, Xi Jinping repeated his threats against Taiwan, but with a twist, saying, “We are patient and willing to do our utmost to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with the utmost sincerity, but if separatist forces provoke and force the issue, or even break through the red line, we will have to take decisive measures.” He also said the United States is playing with fire. And “whoever plays with fire will get burned.”

The Obama veterans who work for Joe Biden have trouble enforcing red lines. Xi Jinping does not. He used similar language in 2017, warning Hongkongers not to challenge the mainland’s sovereignty and Chinese Communist Party control. And, sure enough, when a protest movement emerged in Hong Kong in 2019, Xi crushed it.

Notice, too, how Xi blames Taiwan for cross-strait tensions even as his air force violates Taiwanese airspace with impunity. His message is that China’s policies will remain the same and that it is Biden’s responsibility to rein in Taiwan and to not provoke the mainland. Some “friend.”

Journalists close to the administration emphasize the personal exchanges between Biden and Xi rather than the content, or lack thereof, of the meeting itself. “Monday night’s discussion touched the bedrock of what matters most in the U.S.-China relationship,” wrote David Ignatius of the Washington Post, “and it was at least a beginning of something that could reduce the risk of a global catastrophe.” If Monday really was a beginning, it was not auspicious. Ignatius himself quotes Biden aides “who recalled that when the two men met at Sunnylands, Calif., in 2013, while Biden was vice president, the Chinese leader had raised the possibility of new measures for crisis prevention between the two countries. Little came of that opening.”

Less will come of this one. The vaporware summit was a return to an earlier model of Sino-American relations: the two nations play nice and pretend one isn’t at the other’s throat. It was also a reminder that, since the fall of Afghanistan, President Biden has spurned the China hawks for China doves. The Economist reports that in early September, as the administration reeled from its ignominious and self-inflicted defeat in Central Asia, Xi Jinping “was shockingly testy at the start of a telephone call with Mr. Biden.” Then in late September the United States assented to the swap of imprisoned Huawei executive Meng Wenzhou for two Canadian businessmen held hostage since 2018. On October 7, Jake Sullivan met with Chinese foreign secretary Yang Jiechi in Switzerland to find areas “where the United States and the PRC have an interest in working together.” And on November 10, the United States and China issued a joint declaration to fight climate change.

Words on a page. Another statement China will ignore. This summit was a gift to Xi as he consolidates rule ahead of next year’s winter Olympics in Beijing and his anticipated (and unprecedented) third term as China’s leader. Biden has done nothing to make China pay for its pandemic cover up. He hasn’t increased the defense budget in real terms. He hasn’t further restricted Chinese investment in the U.S. economy. “China’s leaders still want investment and technology from the West,” writes the Economist‘s correspondent, “but they think it is in decadent decline and are decoupling from Western norms and ideas.” America’s leader has done nothing to make them think otherwise.


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