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China-Backed Confucius Institute Turns Its Attention to K-12 Classrooms

State Department in 2020 declared the group a 'propaganda' arm of CCP

By Alex Nester and Jack BeyrerThe Washington Free Beacon

Getty Images

Several American universities maintained relationships with China after shuttering their Confucius Institute chapters, shifting resources to affiliate K-12 programs and fostering sister relationships with Chinese schools.

Rather than fully cut ties with the Confucius Institute, many universities shifted their resources to affiliate programs aimed at K-12 classrooms. The Confucius Classrooms program offers an array of Chinese language and culture programs to elementary, middle, and high school students across the United States. Often linked to Confucius Institutes at nearby colleges, Confucius Classrooms are funded and run by the Hanban, a division of China’s Ministry of Education.

The shift reveals the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party is ingrained in American educational institutions. American security officials have recently warned about Beijing’s efforts to cultivate links with educational institutions in order to change American perceptions of the Communist regime.

Over a dozen universities closed their Confucius Institute chapters after the State Department declared the organization a Chinese propaganda arm. According to Rachelle Peterson, a China expert at the National Association of Scholars, the Communist regime was ready for the fallout.

“The Chinese government has developed a nuanced and sophisticated network of tools,” Peterson told the Washington Free Beacon. “In the case of Confucius Institutes, the Chinese Communist Party is aware that they are falling out of favor in the U.S., and they’re preparing alternative ways of engaging with the United States—many of which are equally problematic.”

Confucius Classrooms are just some of those “problematic” alternatives. The National Association of Scholars estimates that, at its height, there were upward of 500 Confucius Classrooms in operation—significantly more than the 41 active Confucius Institute chapters. And because most federal oversight is directed at higher education, China has been able to covertly entrench itself in the K-12 education space.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R., Utah) told the Free Beacon that he is concerned Confucius Classrooms operating in his district teach an inaccurate view of the Chinese Communist Party to children.

“The Confucius Classrooms are a little bit different and a little bit harder [than Confucius Institutes] because they’re not as obvious,” Stewart said. “The thing we’re trying to do now is to show that they’re not using it for intelligence access, computer access, or to propagandize adults, but they are using it to soften children.”

The Confucius Classrooms operating in Stewart’s district are just a few such outposts that grew out of shuttered Confucius Institute chapters across the country.

A consortium of Confucius Classrooms serving nearly 1,200 K-12 students in Ohio continues to operate more than a year after Miami University in Ohio announced it shuttered its Confucius Institute. In western Kentucky, a coalition of more than 30 staffers led by Simpson County public schools has taken up the mantle of the Western Kentucky University Confucius Institute, which closed in 2019.

When Michigan State University’s Confucius Institute closes this year, the school plans to transfer the program’s resources “to other areas within the university” so as to “benefit K-12 students and teachers who would not otherwise have these learning options available in their schools,” a spokeswoman told the Free Beacon.

In addition to shifting resources from universities to elementary and high school classrooms, China has found ways to maintain a foothold at universities that have closed their Confucius Institutes. Several universities have sought out partnerships with Chinese “sister schools” to replace their Confucius Institutes.

Middle Tennessee State University closed its Confucius Institute in August 2020, after receiving criticism from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.). But the school continues to foster ties with sister universities in China. The University of Nebraska said it remains “deeply committed” to its connections with Chinese universities after its Confucius Institute closed in December 2020.

In a statement to the Free Beacon, Tufts University—which plans to close its Confucius Institute chapter in September—said the school will “focus on expanding and deepening” its ties with Beijing Normal University. Similarly, the College of William and Mary closed its Confucius Institute at the end of June, but will continue to offer China-related programs “through university-to-university agreements,” a spokeswoman told the Free Beacon.

In at least one case, China has continued to donate to a university in order to bolster ties. Peterson uncovered Education Department documents that show the University of Michigan received a $300,000 gift from China after the school closed its Confucius Institute in 2019.

“All the signs are that there are replacements for Confucius Institutes,” Peterson said. “Alternative forms of engagement are popping up—many in ways that are going to have the same problems as the Confucius Institutes.”


Viktor Orban’s Harum-Scarum China Gambit

By Dr. Miklos K. RadvanyiFrontiers of Freedom

On July 5, 2021, Nathan Law, a pro-democracy activist and politician of Hong Kong, published a Letter to Orban from his London exile in Politico.  In his Letter’s opening paragraph, Mr. Law states that “It’s difficult to imagine how somebody who battled against the brutal repression of a communist party at a young age could later become a staunch supporter of another.”  Then, he continues thus:  “Since assuming power in 2010, your growing intimacy with the Chinese government has made it difficult for the EU to put pressure on Beijing when it comes to human rights violations.  Hungary was the first EU country to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2012, paving the way for Beijing to export its authoritarian model to the world.  And in the years since, your country has served as China’s biggest defender in the EU.”

Nathan Law is absolutely correct.  The second son of an unskilled laborer who became the Communist party secretary at the local gravel mine, Viktor Orban used his personal hatred toward his cruel father to rebel against the Soviet occupation and the resulting one-party dictatorship.  Having entered public life on June 16, 1989, the day of the symbolic reburial of Imre Nagy the failed leader of the 1956 Revolution, Viktor Orban called at Budapest’s Heroes’ Square for free elections and the removal of the Soviet military from Hungarian soil.  

From there on, his journey in the discombobulated terrain of Hungarian politics has been marked by self-induced narcissistic turns in opposition, through leading between 1998 and 2002 an utterly inexperienced as well as woefully incompetent government that failed miserably within four years, to reestablishing the one-party dictatorship of the pre-1990 Hungary in its barely disguised oppression and all-encompassing corruption in his second reincarnation as Prime Minister.  As proof of his sickening egomania, Viktor Orban has repeatedly claimed that his 1989 speech was the reason for the Soviet Union to remove its military from Hungary.  Notwithstanding Viktor Orban’s laughable as well as baseless assertion, the decision about the retreat of the Soviet military was made years before his speech and the actual withdrawal of several military units was already ongoing or partially completed. 

Viktor Orban’s destructive transformation of Hungary from a developing democratic state to a neo-Communist fiefdom has come with a heavy price.  Viktor Orban has become politically a fatally wounded non-entity and personally a persona non grata within the European Union.  His Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto has only exacerbated Viktor Orban’s international misery.  Having proved himself more as a pompous amateur, Mr. Szijjarto has made Hungary with his grossly undiplomatic statements about President Biden and the Democrat Party in the United States of America unwelcome too.  As a result, the Viktor Orban-led Hungary has become a pariah in Washington, D.C. as well as in Brussels.

Thus, Viktor Orban’s epiphany from a young firebrand against Communist oppression to an egomaniacal monster has had its roots in his primitive communist upbringing and the related worshipping of power and money by persons who only knew hardships and destitutions in their miserable youth.  Naturally, so-called scholars like Dorit Gerva are talking and writing about “Orbanism” as a new ideology.  They are all badly mistaken.  For Viktor Orban ideology has always meant an interchangeable and disposable semi-intellectual garbage whose sole purpose has been to conceal his insatiable appetite for power and money.  Moreover, for people with Viktor Orban’s mentality, countries or individuals do not count as supreme political and humanistic values.  Consequently, for Viktor Orban democracy with its glorification of individual rights and its protection of personal freedoms is meaningless platitudes that must be continuously attacked and decisively rejected.  For these reasons, the combination of his ostracism by the leaders of  NATO and the European Union and his personal inclination toward authoritarianism, moving closer to China  has been an obvious solution.

 Domestically, Viktor Orban and his propaganda machine has tried to sell his “Eastern Opening” as hugely beneficial for Hungary.  However, the facts have belied his promises of large investments, preferential loans and new markets concerning China, Russia and many other Asian countries.  Specifically, Hungary’s exports to China in 2020 were $2.04 billion.  On the other hand, Hungary’s imports from China in 2020 have reached $8.72 billion.  This means a trade deficit of more than $6 billion.  Thus, while being up in arms against any foreign interference in domestic affairs, Viktor Orban is quietly and surreptitiously turning Hungary into an economic “Canton” of the People’s Republic of China.  

The Chinese-built Budapest-Belgrade railway’s Hungarian section, a highly ballyhood accomplishment of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, is costing about $3 billion.  Of this amount, 85 percent is financed with Chinese loans, with interest between $500 and $800 million.  This means that the entire project’s cost around $3.7 billion.  Thus, this railway project is wholly financed by the Hungarian taxpayers.  Again, the project is much more beneficial to China than for Hungary.  First, the new railway does not connect Hungarian towns.   Second, tourism from the Balkan region has never been significant. Third, the railway is constructed mostly by Chinese companies.  Fourth, the railway is designed to carry freight more than passengers.  Fifth, the strategic penetration of the European Union’s infrastructure markets will become much easier for Chinese state-owned companies.  Notwithstanding these negative aspects, the railway is being built and the entire project with all the documents connected to the bilateral deal were declared a national strategic matter, and thus top secret.  

Similarly, fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Viktor Orban has never criticized China.  On the contrary, he and his cabinet members have only had the kindest words for Beijing’s efforts to fight the pandemic and its willingness to supply Hungary and the rest of the world with vaccines, masks as well as badly needed medical equipment.  Accordingly, the Hungarian government bought at the beginning of 2021 five million doses of Chinese Sinopharm vaccines for $36 (30 Euros) each.  In comparison, the European Union paid only 15,50 Euros per dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  For a dose of AstraZeneca, the European Union paid $2.15, according to Belgium’s budget secretary.  

Even more suspicious is the way the Hungarian government acquired the five million medically absolutely useless doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccines.  The intermediary company from which the Hungarian government purchased the vaccines was an offshore company with a registered capital of $10,700 (9,000 Euros).  The net value of the bilateral contract was $179 million (150 million Euros).  Such arrangements clearly raise red flags for anti-corruption watchdogs, as The New York Times article on March 12, 2021, rightly stipulated.  

The Chinese vaccine was aggressively promoted by Viktor Orban himself.  Claiming that he got the Sinopharm vaccine, he encouraged Hungarians of all ages to do the same.  Yet, while promoting and using the vaccine, it lacked full approval even by the competent Hungarian authorities until January 2021.  Adding insult to injury, the European Union and the American FDA have never approved the Sinopharm vaccine for use on humans.  To prove the uselessness of the Sinopharm vaccines, Hungarians who were vaccinated with Sinopharm have never developed antibodies in their bodies. 

The background story of the Shanghai-based Fudan University is equally strange, or more precisely, typical Orbanesque.  This story has started with the forced expulsion of the George Soros-established Central European University from Budapest, Hungary.  This University was accredited in both the United States of America and Hungary.  In addition, it ranked in quality way above any indigenous school of higher education. The ensuing saga of the very personal feud between George Soros and Viktor Orban has been portrayed and analyzed exhaustively by the media in Hungary as well as across Europe and the United States.  

To summarize it, the Central European University rejected government control.  The University’s argument was that in a democracy institutions of higher education must be independent of political influence.  Moreover, the President of the Central European University Michael Ignatieff argued that the Orban government destroyed the independence and the high quality of Hungarian university education by politically as well as professionally crushing their independence, while simultaneously liquidating the free-thinking intelligentsia.  Yet, utilizing his artificially created two-thirds majority in the unicameral Parliament, Viktor Orban’s party adapted a law that made the functioning of the Central European University in Hungary impossible.  The Central European University departed to Vienna, Austria, leaving Viktor Orban and his battered educational system enjoying in their miserable isolation their pyrrhic victory.

This self-congratulatory gloating about the triumph of Viktor Orban’s “illiberal democracy” over the “Leftist liberalism of George Soros” has culminated in the Hungarian government’s sudden announcement about rolling out the red carpet for the Shanghai-based Fudan University.  Preemptively declaring that the Chinese university’s mission would be strictly educational, the ensuing nation-wide protest against the “Trojan Horse” of Communist influence and potential spying expressed the real opinions as well as the anti-Chinese feelings of the Hungarian people.  

Clearly, the pivoting towards China, defined vaingloriously by Viktor Orban as “Eastern Opening,” is extremely unpopular among all Hungarians.  Adding fuel to the already existing popular discontent is the cost and the size of the Fudan University project.  Planned to spread over twenty six acres, with an additional forty acres accounting for the surrounding park, and estimated to cost a whopping $1.687 billion, it would exceed the total cost the Hungarian government spends on the annual operation of its over two dozen state-run public universities.  No wonder that the suspicion of another gigantic government corruption has again raised its ugly head throughout the country and beyond.  

To top this monstrous political and financial ploy, the construction of the campus is carried out exclusively by Chinese banks and Chinese companies, involving only Chinese workers.  More specifically, the Hungarian government agreed that the Chinese only involvement also means that the job must be done by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), the world’s largest construction company.  Again, bribery and corruption suspicions are justified by the tarnished reputation of the Chinese company that has been involved across the globe in numerous scandals and foul plays.  To prove this point, the Chinese company’s financing offer that would cover all expenses only amounts to $1.06 billion.  The difference between the published figure of $1.687 billion by the Hungarian government and the Chinese estimate speaks for itself.  Even more glaring is the Chinese financing proposal of $1,81 billion that is supposed to cover only 80% of the construction costs.  This unprecedented and unjustified overfinancing of the Fudan University project potentially could be another proof of the long-suspected high-level corruption in state-funded construction business deals.

The secrecy surrounding the Fudan University project thickens by its legal construct.  While in the case of the Budapest-Belgrade railway reconstruction an international agreement was executed, the relevant contracts of the Fudan University deal were designed to exclude public procurements and open biddings even in the management of the campus.  The obvious sleaziness of these arrangements was crowned by the establishment of a consortium of two Chinese and a single Hungarian company, in which the latter is wholly owned by Viktor Orban’s childhood friend and straw man, Lorinc Meszaros.

Finally, leaked documents suggest that the Fudan University deal was in the offing for years but assiduously kept away from the Hungarian and the European public.  During his 2019 visit to Hungary, the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi spoke of the Budapest campus of the Fudan University as a done deal, negotiated carefully for some time before.  Designating it a “priority project,” he emphasized the strategic importance of the Fudan University’s presence in the geographic middle of the European continent for Beijing.  Like in the case of the Budapest-Belgrade railway project, the Hungarian government classified the Fudan University deal as a “national security” matter.  The expropriation and even usurpation of great construction projects affecting the entire country by a single yes-men party, namely the FIDESZ, are another proof that Hungary is not a democracy.  Even more unsettling is the state of democracy in Hungary when the one-party legislature and executive do not govern by consensus but political improvisation and greed. 

Demonstrations against the establishment of the Fudan University have been held across Hungary.  The Mayor of Budapest Gergely Karacsony and the opposition called for a nationwide referendum and already proceeded to rename streets around the planned campus “Dalai Lama Street,” “Free Hong Kong Road,” etc.  The Chinese regime that regularly launches vigorous protests against “interference in Chinese internal affairs” has gone ballistic over the free expression of “anti-Chinese” sentiments in Hungary.  Global Times, one of the many subservient mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party, called in an editorial Gergely Karacsony “an enemy of China.”  The Press Secretary of the Chinese Embassy in Budapest released a statement voicing his outrage thus:  “As a diplomat of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Hungary, I have been working in Hungary for nearly a decade and witnessed the deepening friendship between the Chinese and the Hungarian peoples.  Recently, Hungary has gradually overcome the COVID-19, and people’s daily life is beginning to return to normal.  People on the streets are full of joy and laughter again.  As someone who works and lives in Budapest, I am also delighted by this.”  Clearly, such an idyllic description of the general mood in a country is more reminiscent of the Chinese propaganda lies concerning their own country than the reality in Hungary.   

Referring again to the Mayor of Budapest, his long winded nonsense continued with the following hypocritical sentence:  “In broad daylight, it is unseemly to criticize the internal affairs of another country.”  However, in the same breath he goes on wadding into the internal affairs of Hungary:  “The Mayor’s speech was a serious interference in China’s internal affairs and a deliberate attempt to undermine the friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two nation, which is incompatible with the trend of the era of mutually beneficial cooperation.  We firmly protest, resolutely oppose and strongly condemn it.”

To better understand the real Chinese strategic intentions, one should not search farther than the recent spring visit of the Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe to Budapest.  Praising Hungary as a “good brother” and “partner,” Wei stated that China is ready to strengthen cooperation with Hungary in various fields.  He grew agitated about the sanction imposed by the United States of America and the European Union against his country for the treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, calling them lies and false accusations made by the West.  Then, turning to the President of Hungary, Janos Ader, he thanked him for Hungary’s firm support of China on Xinjiang and other issues concerning China’s core interests.  Janos Ader, on his part, praised China’s vaccine support, claiming that this support has brought hope to Hungary’s fight against the pandemic.  He also called for a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and the strengthening of cooperation in the economy, trade, tourism and military matters.

In line with these essentially anti-NATO and anti-European Union declarations and actions by Chinese grandees, leading Hungarian politicians have given a slew of irresponsible and derogatory statements about both organizations, in which they have claimed to be loyal members.  Just very recently, exactly on July 11, 2021, the Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament Laszlo Kover said on Radio Kossuth that, if a referendum would be held today about Hungary’s joining the European Union, he would definitely vote against it.  And on July 8, 2021, in another interview that he gave to Mandiner, he opined that Hungary will stay a member of the European Union until it collapses.  

Viktor Orban’s dislike for the European Union has been well documented throughout the last nine years as Prime Minister.  Equating any criticism of his government and the Hungarian Parliament that he rules through Laszlo Kover as a condemnation of the Hungarian nation, he has repeatedly insinuated that leaving the organization could be an option.  On September 25, 2020, Reuters reported that he praised Britain’s decision to leave the European Union as a “brave one” and demonstration of “greatness” that Hungary should not follow.  However, signaling his real feelings, he went on to criticize Brussels for its treatment of Great Britain and opined that the 2016 referendum was an act to safeguard the “good reputation” of the British people:  “Brexit is a brave decision of the British people about their own lives…we consider it as evidence of the greatness of the British.”

After years of cutthroat hostility with the overwhelming majority of the European Union’s other member states Hungary’s new legislation that couples pedophilia and anti-LGBT behaviors is the newest bone of contention.  Without descending into the dirty swamp of Hungarian politics, it suffices to state that the values that the Viktor Orban-led government has espoused for the last nine years and the values that the European Union views as compatible with Western civilization have been distinctly different in most of the cases.  While Brussels defends values in general, the Orban government protects its parochial and thus narrow political and financial interests.  For this reason, an ultimate rupture could occur at any time in the future.                

Where does all this leave the Orban regime and Hungary?  It leaves both in an ever widening vacuum full of lies, deceptions, existential corruption, moral depravity and hopelessness concerning the future of the individual as well as the Hungarian nation.  It leaves Hungary hovering between Europe and Asia.  It leaves Hungary in a state of permanent paralysis politically, economically, financially, culturally, morally and existentially.  It leaves Hungary with a government that prioritizes the interests of the privileged one percent to the detriment of ninety nine percent of the nation.  It leaves Hungary with a government that is despotic and inimical to the country’s real interests.  Finally and tragically, it leaves Hungary in a state of utter despondency.

Historically, whenever Hungary has turned away from the West and has attempted to seek its future in the East, stagnation and even backsliding were the results.  Today, when confronted with the uncomfortable facts of his “Eastern Opening,” Viktor Orban’s and his party’s responses rest on two parts.  First, they try to conceal, deny and obfuscate.  Second, when such brazenly authoritarian and shamefully immoral political campaigns fail, they attack with ruthless aggression the motives of their domestic as well as foreign critics.  

Clearly, the worldwide criticism of Hungary has reached a dangerous stage.  Led by Hungary’s incompetent foreign minister, its diplomats call such criticism a shameless plot to slander the country and thwart its progress.  The government controlled media spew ad hominem falsehoods at scholars who analyze Hungarian government statements and documents, as well as open-source materials, describing them as CIA agents or anti-Hungarian fanatics.  Regrettably, such fallacious assertions have had an impact domestically.  It has not been very difficult to meet Hungarians from every walk of life who treat even the mildest criticism of their country as a hostile attack directed against them personally.  

Yet, facts are stubborn things.  Since his election victory in 2010, Viktor Orban has governed Hungary as an elected despot.  The safeguards of democracy have been eliminated gradually.  With his “Eastern Opening,” Viktor Orban is preparing to tear up all pretence of democracy and develop his “illiberal democracy” into a full fledged dictatorship.  The obvious question is why?  The answer is almost self-evident.  Viktor Orban and his associates fear defeat in the upcoming elections in the spring of 2022.  As Nathan Law stated, Viktor Orban and his FIDESZ party has betrayed its democratic past for a semi-Feudal and arch-Communist regime, combined with nepotism and dynastic pretensions.  While capturing total control over the legislative, judicial and executive branches as well as vertically the local councils, he has courted the rural population with monies that the European Union has given to Hungary.  Simultaneously, the pliant media are selling in unison Viktor Orban’s “illiberal democracy” as identical with the desires of the whole nation. 

To add political insult to existential injury, the declared election alliance of the thus far fragmented opposition parties might not be enough to stop another triumph at the ballot boxes for Viktor Orban and his FIDESZ party.  While the 2018 elections were laden with irregularities, suspicions are rife throughout the country that the upcoming poll might be fraught with more shenanigans.  As in the past, the most contentious issue  will be the voting rights of Hungarians living abroad without registered Hungarian addresses, mainly in the neighboring states of Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania and Serbia.  The emotional manipulation, financial bribery, voting by mail without proper verification, practically ensures that the overwhelming majority of these ethnic Hungarians, estimated to be close to ninety percent, will cast their ballots for FIDESZ.  To illustrate the shocking political nature of courting the ethnic Hungarian votes, the Fuggetlen Nemzet (Independent Nation) revealed that ethnic Hungarians with barely any elementary school education claimed to have been directors of large Ukrainian companies with outlandishly high salaries, collect huge retirement pays from the Hungarian Pension Disbursement Office.  

Such an electoral system clearly distorts the will of all Hungarians who live within the international borders of Hungary.  Leaders of the opposition parties and foreign observers have claimed in 2018 that the voting laws installed by FIDESZ enabled electoral fraud through uncontrollable manipulation of the mail-in ballots.  Hungarian humor has it that being buried in one of the neighboring states as a Hungarian guarantees the dead person’s resurrection and a second life in Hungary proper through elections.

In stark contrast to this extremely liberal treatment of ethnic Hungarians, Hungarians who live in Hungary proper but work or live abroad with real Hungarian residency must be registered on the electoral roll a maximum of fifteen days before election day.  Moreover, on election day they must go to a Hungarian consulate or embassy to cast their votes in person.  Registration has been slow and laden with bureaucratic obstructions.  Consulates and embassies have posed additional hurdles to Hungarians suspected of not voting for Viktor Orban’s party.  The nefarious political intent is clear.  Those Hungarians who live outside the country are alleged of not always agreeing with the domestic situation.  Thus, they must be prevented from voting by dictatorial bureaucratic fiat.  Those who have been bribed by the Hungarian government abroad must cast their votes without any bureaucratic difficulties, because they are presumed to be loyal to Viktor Orban and his regime.  This is ethnic discrimination by voting, plain and simple.     

In these and similar manners, Hungary’s march away from Western values and democracy toward Socialism/Communism with Chinese characteristics is in full swing.  As for the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, creating enemies and demonizing opponents have been the order of political culture for Viktor Orban and his FIDESZ party.   Meanwhile, Hungary proper has been torn by deep hatred, unbridgeable divisions and the danger of civil war.  Moreover, the country lacks a large middle class and is divided into the miniscule group of the very rich and the vast majority of destitute survivors as well as hopeless Have-nots.  

Yet, the greatest threat to Hungary’s future is the fatalistic complacency of its people.  To overcome this deadly cultural disease, the Hungarian people must take back their past, present and future.  In doing so, they should be able to rely on the active and decisive assistance of all the member states of NATO and the European Union.  Conversely, the latter should start to take democracy as well as political, economic and cultural morality seriously – meaning that they must enforce the values of both alliances more rigorously.  Otherwise, NATO and the European Union will cease to be multilateral bodies of free nations.  Even worse, they will continue to nurture internal enemies within their ranks that ultimately will destroy both alliances.  Clearly, it is high time to put a stop to the destructive madness of the current Hungarian government by calling it to full account.  In closing, Hungary must be made to understand that membership in both organizations comes with rights and obligations that are inextricably linked.  Joining both organizations was voluntary.  No one forced the competent Hungarian government to join.  However, once Hungary joined, it must fulfill its obligations fully.  Claiming that Hungary has only rights but only selective obligations is unrealistic.  Comparing Washington, D.C. and Brussels to the Kremlin of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, is wrong and self-defeating. Such comparison is simply idiotic.  Yet, Hungarian politicians, with Viktor Orban in the lead, have played the victimhood card often and shamelessly in the last eleven years.  Enough is enough.  Either the Hungarian government will start to play fairly or it must be asked to leave both organizations.  The future effectiveness and unity of NATO and the European Union are at stake.  Time is of the essence.  Before the Orbanesque cancer could metastasize, it must be stopped peremptorily. 


Yes, It’s Ungrateful to Turn Your Back on the National Anthem

By Ben ShapiroRealClear Politics

This week, heretofore nearly anonymous hammer thrower Gwen Berry made international headlines when, during the podium ceremony for winning bronze in an Olympic trial, she turned away from the United States flag as the national anthem played. The anthem wasn’t played for her, or for the other competitors in the hammer throw; every day during the trials, a pre-scheduled anthem went out over the sound system.

Berry turned 90 degrees from the flag, stood with her hand on her hip, and glared directly into the camera. It was a deliberate provocation and a deliberate attempt to raise her own profile. “I feel like it was a setup,” she later complained, “and they did it on purpose.”

Actually, Berry just saw an opportunity to maximize her profile, and she seized it with alacrity. In the United States, there’s far more money to be made and fame to be achieved by spurning the American flag and the national anthem than by embracing it: Colin Kaepernick makes millions because he failed as a quarterback but succeeded as a self-aggrandizing symbol of supposed racial bravery. Meanwhile, the thousands of athletes with track records superior to either Kaepernick’s or Berry’s who stand for the national anthem remain anonymous.

That’s because America currently rewards an entitled sense of grievance. Most Americans know little about foreign countries; they somehow believe that the United States is inferior, or that the prosperity, health and free lifestyle to which they have become accustomed is the global and historic norm.

It most assuredly is not.

While Berry was protesting the national anthem, the Chinese government was busy arresting the editor of the pro-democracy Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily. That arrest came on the heels of the arrest of one of Apple Daily’s columnists for “conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security.” While Berry was protesting the national anthem, the Taliban was busy spreading like a metastasizing cancer over Afghanistan, preparing its new subjects for the tender mercies of brutal Islamist rule. While Berry was protesting the national anthem during an event at which she threw heavy objects for sport, billions of people were living in absolute privation the world over.

None of this means that the shortcomings of America should be ignored. But to protest the flag or the national anthem as particular symbols of grievance is to demonstrate full-scale your own ignorance and ingratitude. “I’m here to represent those who died due to systemic racism,” Berry said. But she herself is an excellent indicator of just how much promise America holds for its citizens. She grew up in the home of her grandmother, with 13 people in the house; she had a baby out of wedlock at 15 and then earned a college scholarship. She got two jobs and helped support her extended family. Now, she’s going to the Olympics. And presumably, there, she will turn her back on the flag and the national anthem if she makes it to the podium.

In doing so, she’ll become a hero to millions. She’ll get richer; she’ll get more famous. Perhaps, like pseudo-Marxist Patrisse Cullors of Black Lives Matter, she’ll buy herself a few houses; maybe, like Kaepernick, she’ll make the cover of Sports Illustrated. Like self-declared Marxist Cullors, who currently owns three separate houses worth over $1.5 million each, Berry is in it for the attention and the profit. Yesterday, nobody had heard of her. Today, everybody has. It’s that simple.

One thing is certain, however: Those who spend their days championing their own ingratitude at a society that gives them extraordinary opportunities — opportunities unavailable to nearly all humans for nearly all of human history, and unavailable to most people on the planet right now — aren’t likely to live happier lives. And they’re unlikely to make their nations better, either.


How to Make China Pay

Engage Taiwan, boycott the 2022 Olympics, and impose a carbon tariff

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping / Getty Images

The debate over the origins of the coronavirus—did it come from a wet market in Wuhan or from the virology lab nearby—has exposed the bias of media and technology companies and the potential danger of so-called gain of function research. But it also has led to something of an intellectual cul-de-sac. Barring a high-level defection from the Chinese Communist Party, we are unlikely ever to learn the answer. And even if we did have conclusive evidence one way or another, we still would have to decide what to do about it. The real question isn’t whether the pandemic is China’s fault. It’s whether China will pay a price for the catastrophic damage it caused the world.

Wherever the virus came from, we know that the Chinese government lied about it for weeks. Dr. Ai Fen shared information about a novel coronavirus with her colleagues on December 30, 2019. The next day, as Lawrence Wright recounts in The Plague Year, China removed social media posts that mentioned “unknown Wuhan pneumonia” or “Wuhan Seafood Market.” Dr. Li Wenliang, who warned the public that the virus could be transmitted from human to human, was arrested and forced to deliver a televised confession. He died of COVID-19 on February 6, 2020.

Beijing prevaricated for a month while the deadly pandemic spread. China did not allow the World Health Organization to visit Wuhan until January 20, 2020. The same day, one of China’s top doctors finally admitted the obvious: COVID-19 is a communicable disease. By the time the Communist leadership took action, it was too late. On January 21, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first case of coronavirus in America. China did not quarantine Wuhan until January 22. “By that time,” according to Wright, “nearly half the population of Wuhan had already left the city for Chinese New Year.”

The dishonesty and incompetence of the Chinese Communist Party turned a national crisis into a global one. A March 2020 study estimated that cases might have been reduced by anywhere from 66 percent to 95 percent if Chinese authorities had acted earlier. Why was Beijing slow to move? Because bureaucratic collectivist societies such as Communist China are especially prone to delays and coverups as underlings attempt to avoid punishment from above. The same powers of draconian coercion that China used to lock down its population inspired fear among the midlevel and regional officials who allowed the virus to leave China in the first place. The problem wasn’t scientific. It was political. And punishment is deserved.

What to do? Writing in the Washington Post, Mike Pompeo and Scooter Libby call on the “leading democracies” to “act together,” leveraging “their great economic power” to “persuade China to curb its dangerous viral research activities, cooperate with the investigation of the coronavirus’s origins, and, over time, pay some measure of the pandemic’s damages to other nations.” It’s a worthy strategy with a potentially fatal flaw: The other democracies might put economics ahead of accountability.

Another proposal in Congress would strip China of its sovereign immunity and make it liable for damages in U.S. courts. That plan would also leave American foreign policy dependent on outside actors—in this case, judges. And millions of potential claimants attempting to seize Chinese assets in the United States could make for a mess.

China never will volunteer to open its labs. Nor will it compensate either nations or individuals for the havoc it unleashed. Costs must be imposed that Beijing cannot avoid.

I have three suggestions. Each is more controversial than the last. But all of them would ensure that China paid some price for its lax hygiene and sanitation standards, loosey-goosey research protocols, and reckless attitude toward human freedom and human life.

Engage Taiwan. To its credit, the Biden administration has continued the stepped-up engagement with Taiwan that began under President Trump. In April, Biden sent an unofficial delegation to the island that included his close friend Chris Dodd. Most recently, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai raised the prospect of new trade talks in a conversation with her Taiwanese counterpart. This pattern of contacts bothers mainland China to no end.

Keep it up. But also do more to train and equip Taiwanese military forces, as my American Enterprise Institute colleagues Gary Schmitt and Michael Mazza suggested last year in The Dispatch. Taiwan is a reminder that Chinese people can be free and that open societies can deal effectively with pandemics. The very existence of Chinese democracy in Taiwan is a threat to the legitimacy of Communist rule in the mainland. It’s an obstacle to Beijing’s ambitions in the Pacific. Taiwan’s defense is imperative.

Boycott the Olympics. One day before he left office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Chinese Communist Party “has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.” Here, too, the Biden administration has not deviated from its predecessor’s course. The United States openly accuses its arch-rival of crimes against humanity. This is a pretty big deal, is it not?

Well, start acting like it. Why the participation of U.S. officials in the Beijing Olympics next year is even up for debate is a mystery. The White House has said that it is not exploring a boycott. That needs to change. On June 7 a bipartisan resolution was introduced in Congress demanding that the International Olympic Committee explore other venues. A declaration that no U.S. government personnel will participate because of China’s actions at home and abroad would embarrass Beijing. It would encourage other democracies to do the same. China deserves neither the honor of nor the revenue from the participation of U.S. officials. Let the athletes compete. But cheer them on from home.

Impose a carbon tariff. President Biden has also maintained the tariffs that President Trump levied against Chinese goods. Economist Irwin Stelzer of the Hudson Institute has a better plan. He would replace these tariffs with a border tax on the carbon content of Chinese exports. The strategy has appeal for environmentalists and China hawks alike. Everyone knows that China is the world’s largest emitter. Everyone knows that China’s promise of greenhouse gas reduction is worthless. Beijing won’t do anything that jeopardizes the economic growth on which it bases its claim to rule.

“In effect,” writes Stelzer, “by selling us ‘dirty’ products, China is adding to the competitive advantage it has from selling us stuff made by slave and other laborers paid wages with which we cannot decently compete, around $2 per hour in Beijing.” The EU already is at work on what it calls a “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism” on Chinese exports. By pushing for a carbon tariff of its own, the Biden administration would please not only hawks and greens, but also the European allies whose opinion it values so highly.

The problem with a “carbon border adjustment mechanism,” of course, is that the process of calculating a good’s carbon content might turn out to be overly complicated, bureaucratic, and subject to politicization. I’m not in the habit of taking economic advice from Brussels. But these problems must be weighed against the justice and potential benefits of such a tax. And the additional cost could be rebated to low-income U.S. consumers along the lines that Senator Tom Cotton proposed in a slightly different context in 2019.

In the end, whether or not the United States adopts a tax on Chinese carbon is less important than moving the debate from the pandemic’s origins to the pandemic’s endgame. The despotic regime whose malign indifference killed so many and cost so much cannot be allowed to pretend that nothing happened. We can hold China responsible. And we can make China pay.


The ‘Endless Frontier Act’ Is Not Merely a Wasteful Boondoggle, It Will Likely Slow High Tech Innovation

By George LandrithTownhall

The ‘Endless Frontier Act’ Is Not Merely a Wasteful Boondoggle, It Will Likely Slow High Tech Innovation
Source: Yao Dawei/Xinhua via AP

The advertised purpose of the “Endless Frontier Act” is to increase high tech competition with China.  This, of course, is a goal that every American should be able to get behind.  However, the advertised purpose of the bill, as laudable as it may be, is not actually what the bill will do.  In other words, the “Endless Frontier Act” was sold under false pretenses and using fabricated promises. 

If the Senate were serious about helping America win the high tech competition with China, it would do a number of important things, including, but not limited to:  (1) protect our nation’s intellectual property from theft and abuse by the Chinese; (2) make our tax code more competitive; (3) allow research and development costs to be deducted more easily thus encouraging capital investment in high tech solutions; (4) review and reform our regulatory regime that in many cases is outdated and hindering the development of new technologies and making us less competitive. 

But the Senate isn’t considering any of that.  Instead, their so-called plan is to spend about $110 billion in taxpayer dollars via government grants to promote new technologies to be administered by the National Science Foundation.  In other words, a government agency with a horrific record of waste, fraud and abuse is going to decide what technologies look most promising and then hand out taxpayer dollars to give them a boost. This sounds like the Solyndra scandal on steroids. 

So in an era when our national debt has been rapidly increasing at unsustainable rates, we are going to borrow even more money from China and become even more indebted to China — all for the purpose of being more competitive with China. Let that sink in.

But the problem doesn’t end there. The truth is the National Science Foundation (NSF) has a horrible record of waste.  The NSF has funded a project to develop a robot that could fold a towel in 25 minutes. A child could fold a whole load of towels in 25 minutes, but for this stupidity you paid $1.5 million. They’ve funded studies of shrimp running on a miniature treadmill. That wasted $500,000 of your hard earned dollars.  They’ve spent millions studying what motivates individuals to make political donations.  They’ve spent millions studying if athlete’s perception that the basketball rim is as large as a hula-hoop, or that a baseball is as large as a grapefruit, or a golf hole appeared as big as a manhole cover impacts the athlete’s performance.

As Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) highlighted on the floor of the Senate,  the NSF spent $700,000 that had been allotted to study autism to listen to a tape of Neil Armstrong’s first moon walk. They wanted to determine if he said “one small step for man …” or “one small step for a man …” It took them a year and $700,000 of your money to determine that they couldn’t tell.  And that was money that was supposed to be spent on autism.  The NSF also spent half a million dollars developing a climate change themed video game to help children feel more alarmed. 

Government is inherently wasteful.  For example, our government spent over $40 million building a natural gas station to refuel cars that run on natural gas in Afghanistan to help them reduce their carbon footprint. Yet Afghanistan is a nation where the annual income is about $800 and often cook their food on open fires, and few drive any sort of car, much less a natural gas powered car.  Any high schooler could have told you that building a natural gas station in a nation that doesn’t have many cars is a dumb idea. 

Government has funded studying whether you and I are more or less likely to eat food that has been sneezed or coughed on by someone else. You and I could answer that question for free. We’d prefer food that hasn’t been sneezed on — even before the pandemic.  But government bureaucrats spent $2 million to get the same answer.  

So now we are going to rely on these same government bureaucrats to make sure we compete in the high tech arena with the Chinese and we will borrow the money that these bureaucrats decide to spend from the Chinese.  What could possibly go wrong?! 

I have grown to expect liberals to gladly fund such utter foolishness from our paychecks.  But it isn’t just them, there were 19 Republicans who voted for this insanity:  Blunt (MO), Capito (WV), Collins (ME), Cornyn (TX), Crapo (ID), Daines (MT), Graham (SC), Grassley (IA), McConnell (KY), Murkowski (AL), Portman (OH), Risch (ID), Romney (UT), Rounds (SD), Sasse (NE), Sullivan (AK), Tillis (NC), Wicker (MS), and Young (IN).

Those who voted for this bill will undoubtedly defend their vote telling you that they want America to compete and win against China in the high tech arena.  We all would like that!  But let’s try something novel. Let’s do things that would actually help our innovators innovate; and help our businesses and industries compete and win. Also let’s not put a wasteful and often silly government agency in charge of the program.  Instead, let’s unleash America’s entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. And let’s not borrow the money from the very nation we claim to be trying to out compete. 


The ‘Endless Frontier Act’ Is Not Merely a Wasteful Boondoggle, It Will Likely Slow High Tech Innovation

By George LandrithTownhall

The ‘Endless Frontier Act’ Is Not Merely a Wasteful Boondoggle, It Will Likely Slow High Tech Innovation
Source: Yao Dawei/Xinhua via AP

The advertised purpose of the “Endless Frontier Act” is to increase high tech competition with China.  This, of course, is a goal that every American should be able to get behind.  However, the advertised purpose of the bill, as laudable as it may be, is not actually what the bill will do.  In other words, the “Endless Frontier Act” was sold under false pretenses and using fabricated promises. 

If the Senate were serious about helping America win the high tech competition with China, it would do a number of important things, including, but not limited to:  (1) protect our nation’s intellectual property from theft and abuse by the Chinese; (2) make our tax code more competitive; (3) allow research and development costs to be deducted more easily thus encouraging capital investment in high tech solutions; (4) review and reform our regulatory regime that in many cases is outdated and hindering the development of new technologies and making us less competitive. 

But the Senate isn’t considering any of that.  Instead, their so-called plan is to spend about $110 billion in taxpayer dollars via government grants to promote new technologies to be administered by the National Science Foundation.  In other words, a government agency with a horrific record of waste, fraud and abuse is going to decide what technologies look most promising and then hand out taxpayer dollars to give them a boost. This sounds like the Solyndra scandal on steroids. 

So in an era when our national debt has been rapidly increasing at unsustainable rates, we are going to borrow even more money from China and become even more indebted to China — all for the purpose of being more competitive with China. Let that sink in.

But the problem doesn’t end there. The truth is the National Science Foundation (NSF) has a horrible record of waste.  The NSF has funded a project to develop a robot that could fold a towel in 25 minutes. A child could fold a whole load of towels in 25 minutes, but for this stupidity you paid $1.5 million. They’ve funded studies of shrimp running on a miniature treadmill. That wasted $500,000 of your hard earned dollars.  They’ve spent millions studying what motivates individuals to make political donations.  They’ve spent millions studying if athlete’s perception that the basketball rim is as large as a hula-hoop, or that a baseball is as large as a grapefruit, or a golf hole appeared as big as a manhole cover impacts the athlete’s performance.

As Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) highlighted on the floor of the Senate,  the NSF spent $700,000 that had been allotted to study autism to listen to a tape of Neil Armstrong’s first moon walk. They wanted to determine if he said “one small step for man …” or “one small step for a man …” It took them a year and $700,000 of your money to determine that they couldn’t tell.  And that was money that was supposed to be spent on autism.  The NSF also spent half a million dollars developing a climate change themed video game to help children feel more alarmed. 

Government is inherently wasteful.  For example, our government spent over $40 million building a natural gas station to refuel cars that run on natural gas in Afghanistan to help them reduce their carbon footprint. Yet Afghanistan is a nation where the annual income is about $800 and often cook their food on open fires, and few drive any sort of car, much less a natural gas powered car.  Any high schooler could have told you that building a natural gas station in a nation that doesn’t have many cars is a dumb idea. 

Government has funded studying whether you and I are more or less likely to eat food that has been sneezed or coughed on by someone else. You and I could answer that question for free. We’d prefer food that hasn’t been sneezed on — even before the pandemic.  But government bureaucrats spent $2 million to get the same answer.  

So now we are going to rely on these same government bureaucrats to make sure we compete in the high tech arena with the Chinese and we will borrow the money that these bureaucrats decide to spend from the Chinese.  What could possibly go wrong?! 

I have grown to expect liberals to gladly fund such utter foolishness from our paychecks.  But it isn’t just them, there were 19 Republicans who voted for this insanity:  Blunt (MO), Capito (WV), Collins (ME), Cornyn (TX), Crapo (ID), Daines (MT), Graham (SC), Grassley (IA), McConnell (KY), Murkowski (AL), Portman (OH), Risch (ID), Romney (UT), Rounds (SD), Sasse (NE), Sullivan (AK), Tillis (NC), Wicker (MS), and Young (IN).

Those who voted for this bill will undoubtedly defend their vote telling you that they want America to compete and win against China in the high tech arena.  We all would like that!  But let’s try something novel. Let’s do things that would actually help our innovators innovate; and help our businesses and industries compete and win. Also let’s not put a wasteful and often silly government agency in charge of the program.  Instead, let’s unleash America’s entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. And let’s not borrow the money from the very nation we claim to be trying to out compete. 


China Is A Menacing Threat And Overtly Hostile

By George LandrithNewslooks

China

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been ramping up its military spending to meet its stated goal of replacing the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower.  Many who seek to minimize the risk compare actual dollars spent on defense in hopes of proving the risk that China poses is minimal.  But the truth is, once you adjust for the cost of things, China is approaching parity with the U.S. For example, the pay for military personnel in the U.S. is 16 times higher than in China.*  Yet, China’s armed forces are approximately 2.2 million, whereas the US armed forces are only 1.4 million — roughly equal with North Korea in terms of manpower. 

Moreover, China has long been engaged in high-tech espionage and steals a great deal of the latest and greatest technology from the US. We have foolishly allowed their spies — posing as students or business and cultural exchanges to gain access to our technology. So we spend billions developing new technology and the Chinese regime spends comparative chump change to steal it. These cost savings allow China to spend less, while building up its military more. This is one of the reasons China now has the worlds’ largest navy with over 360 ships — dwarfing the U.S. fleet of 297 ships.  

China is also clearly seeking to exploit for its advantage the recent change in administrations.  President Joe Biden has long been comparatively conciliatory toward the communist regime and has often downplayed the risks China poses. Moreover,  Biden’s son, Hunter, has highly lucrative business dealings with major Chinese firms with strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party — that’s how business works in China. Even if there is nothing illegal about Hunter’s business dealings, it creates a troubling conflict of interest for the White House.

It is clearly not in the interests of the U.S. to downplay the risks and pretend that China’s threat isn’t real.  And China isn’t just a threat to the U.S., they are a threat to the entire world. They don’t intend to simply be a major economic and military power. They mean to rule and dominate the world with an iron fist. 

If you don’t believe me, look at how China deals with those it perceives to be dissidents. Look at how it treats Hong Kong. Look at how Chinese health officials who warned of the COVID-19 virus were punished or mysteriously disappeared. Look at the death camps and “re-education camps” and how China tortures, murders and rapes the Uyghurs and other “dissidents.” If China achieves its stated goal of control and domination, it will be a brutal reign of terror and oppression. 

It Is Not the Backward, Developing Nation It Once Was

Beyond raw military power, China also seeks economic supremacy. World shipping is an interesting case study where China seeks to dominate and is well on its way.  The global trade fleet is about 41,000 ships. China builds about 1,300 new ships each year. The U.S. builds only 8. China is now the dominant player in ship building and in owning and operating and controlling ports around the globe. 

The good news is that China does not, and cannot, dominate U.S. domestic shipping because the Jones Act stands in their way by requiring that ships used to transport goods between two or more American ports, must be American ships with American crews.

The Jones Act was passed shortly after World War I to ensure that the U.S. had sufficient shipping capacity, trained mariners, and a ship building and ship repairing capability necessary for our national security needs. But in the 21st Century, the Jones Act turns out to be a big help in stopping China’s attempts to dominate U.S. domestic shipping. 

Imagine if there were no Jones Act, and China could simply underbid the competition and gain an economic stranglehold on the U.S. and even world shipping markets. Also imagine Chinese ships sailing up and down the 25,000 miles of inland water ways in America with spies and high tech spy equipment intercepting communications at will. 

After being caught unprepared for WWI, the Jones Act seemed pretty necessary in 1920. But 101 years later in 2021, the Jones Act is even more necessary as one of many important ways America must stand up to the PRC and say, “Your oppression, aggression, and brutal domination are not welcome here!”  The Jones Act may not have been written with China in mind, but it is exactly what we need to prevent their expansionism into America’s inland waterways.


Is China Weakening US Intellectual Property Protection?

By George LandrithNewslooks

Is China weakening US intellectual property protection?

There is a global effort afoot to get the United States to suspend intellectual property rights (IP) for any and all COVID-19 medical innovations. Interestingly, China is a big backer of this global effort and has been using the World Trade Organization (WTO) to put pressure on the US. The Biden Administration fairly predictably is now backing the China backed pressure campaign. The communist Chinese state-controlled media has praised President Biden for giving into “global pressure.” 

The US can provide humanitarian help without wearing IP protections

The US can certainly help the rest of the world deal with the COVID virus. Humanitarian efforts are about helping save lives, not giving the Chinese regime billions in intellectual property.  The US now has a surplus of vaccines and we have the supply chain and the manufacturing set up to continue pumping out the vaccine for the rest of the world. If China and others wanted access to the vaccine as quickly as possible, that’s already available to them — all they need to do is ask. 

FILE – In this Dec. 14, 2020, file photo, a vial of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 sits on a table at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn. Many parents and educators are excited over the news that the Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine soon for youngsters ages 12 to 15. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

But stealing the IP of those who invested billions in developing it won’t help the rest of the world because it would take them a year, or two, or more to set up the manufacturing process and organize the supply chains to replicate what the US is currently is able to do.  If nations need help to deal with the virus, it isn’t in a year or two — it is now. So what the WTO and China are pushing for won’t help them solve any immediate problem or save lives.  But it will help the communist Chinese regime access billions in research and development which they can use to undercut American jobs and innovation for decades to come. 

Weakening IP Rights Will Slow Innovation, Weaken our Economy, and Compromise National Security 

So that’s how you know the global effort isn’t about helping vaccinate the world.  It is about stealing the IP rights of American innovators.  China has made a living stealing American IP and it has not only harmed us economically, but it has also endangered our national security.  And one thing that the Chinese regime is very good at is using every tool at its disposal to weaken America and seek its own long-term advantage. If we don’t wake up to this, we will live to regret it. 

If people are interested in helping those around the globe get vaccinated, let’s do that. But why is stealing IP part of that discussion?  Especially, since it won’t provide any vaccinations for a year or more from now. But will be used by hostile regimes to undermine American innovation and American jobs. 

The bottom line is that suspending intellectual property rights is bad policy.  It does nothing to help those around the globe who need a vaccine right away. And it also undermines American medical innovation, and American jobs. Plus, under our Constitution, the government may not unilaterally take the property of its citizens without just compensation. The Constitution specially provides for the protection of intellectual property. And that is why America has been the world’s greatest engine of innovation. Let’s not kill the goose that lays golden eggs. 

IP Rights Are the Reason We Obtained Needed Vaccines

The very reason American pharmaceutical companies were able to provide vaccines so quickly to deal with the COVID-19 virus is because our system of intellectual property told them that investing billions of dollars in finding a cure was a good idea.  If we remove that, future innovations and future discoveries will be far less likely.  If we hope to continue to find new earth-breaking cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, etc, and new vaccines for the next horrible disease, we had better keep our intellectual property protections strong. 

The US Shouldn’t Stop Being an Innovative Force

There is a why the United States leads the world in innovation — we’ve historically had the most robust intellectual property protections.  As we’ve allowed those protections to slide, we’ve seen our innovation advantage start to slide as well. So rather than abrogating IP rights, we should be strengthening and reinvigorating them. 

This global initiative to pressure the US into voluntarily destroying its system of intellectual property protections would be very costly — not only the US, but to the entire world because our innovation ultimately benefits the entire globe.  Let’s hope Congress puts a stop to this foolishness.  The Biden Administration has already caved in and signaled its willingness to compromise American law and American strength. Sure, America can, and should help the rest of the world.  No one is suggesting that we hide the vaccine or prevent it from other nations or peoples. But using the pandemic as an excuse to kill off American IP protections and violate US law is akin to a beggar demanding access to your home equity loan when asking for help to buy dinner.  You offer him a nice meal, and he says, “No, I want your home equity loan! Don’t you want to help a guy down on his luck?!” Beware, it’s a scam!


Wall Street Must Stop Enabling Communist China

America’s financial elite is helping to finance America’s prime strategic adversary.

By Senator Marco RubioThe American Prospect

Rubio-China 052621.jpg
After the Trump administration called for the delisting of Chinese companies tied to Beijing’s military last fall, Wall Street went to bat to ensure that three Chinese telecommunications firms, including China Telecom, were spared.

As a new, more skeptical consensus about America’s economic relationship with Beijing emerges in Washington, Wall Street is growing more tightly integrated with China than ever before. The disconnect highlights one of our nation’s biggest vulnerabilities in our confrontation with China over who will determine the course of the 21st century.

American capital markets are the most open, liquid, and valuable in the world. They are also increasingly a source of funds for China’s most strategically important companies. Chinese companies that produce surveillance technology and weapons of war that could one day kill Americans finance their investments with Wall Street capital.

Historically, both Republicans and Democrats have been weak when it comes to identifying and correcting these kinds of problems. Politicians in my own party have too often been reluctant to intervene over concerns about the “free market.” But things are changing. Faced with the catastrophic impacts of deindustrialization, which has choked opportunity for the American working class, and a growing reliance on an authoritarian regime, more of my colleagues in the GOP have awakened to the dangers of economic policymaking that prizes short-term economic efficiency over all else.

American capital markets are increasingly a source of funds for China’s most strategically important companies.

But just as many Republicans have grown more skeptical of big business’s cozy relationship with Beijing, large swaths of America’s financial and corporate sectors are making a play for a new base of political support—this time complete with deep-blue, progressive social stances on hot-button issues in our politics.

It’s the height of hypocrisy. U.S. corporations with lucrative business ties to the Chinese Communist Party will boycott states here over anti-abortion laws, while Beijing systematically sterilizes Uyghur women. They routinely inflame divisive race issues within the U.S. while marginalizing African American actors or erasing Tibetan characters to keep Chinese audiences happy.

And in instances when the U.S. government has acted, our financial sector, fearful of losing out on a lucrative investment opportunity, often intervenes to protect state-tied Chinese firms. For example, after the Trump administration called for the delisting of Chinese companies tied to Beijing’s military from the stock market last fall, it was Wall Street that initially went to bat to ensure that three Chinese telecommunications firms complicit in state censorship, China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom, were spared. (After several reversals and a failed appeal process, the three ended up recently delisted.) And just this month, the Biden administration allowed one of China’s biggest companies, Xiaomi, to relist on U.S. exchanges.

Democrats should be skeptical of the opportunistic progressive social stances in our finance and tech sectors. The presence of a diversity and inclusion czar does nothing if a company is profiting off of slave labor in Xinjiang.

More fundamentally, Wall Street advances the goals of the CCP with its investment in China, which needs American capital to grow its economy. As China has evolved from an export-driven economy to one reliant on state-led investment, it needs foreign investment to help pay for its debts. Investing in China funds the Chinese companies powering Beijing’s economic strategy and industrial policy.

In 2019, the United States became a net investor in China for the first time in history. How did this happen? The answer lies with the fund managers. As China has “opened” its market to American financial companies and sought the listing of its businesses on American stock exchanges, the portfolios of American investors have been increasingly invested in Chinese companies. Many well-meaning Americans may inadvertently be propping up a genocidal regime because Wall Street does it for them.

Furthermore, Chinese firms listed on U.S. securities exchanges are widely shielded by their government from the full oversight of American financial regulators, putting teachers’ pensions and retirees at risk.

Thankfully, there are legislative solutions that both Republicans and Democrats should be able to support. First of all, we should ban any U.S. investments in Communist Chinese military companies. This is part of the reason why I first introduced my Taxpayers and Savers Protection (TSP) Act in 2019—to ensure the retirement savings accounts of federal workers and service members didn’t end up invested in Chinese companies tied to the People’s Liberation Army or engaged in human rights abuses.

In instances when the U.S. government has acted, our finan-cial sector often intervenes to protect state-tied Chinese firms.

Similarly, no Chinese company on the U.S. Department of Commerce Entity List or the U.S. Department of Defense list of Communist Chinese military companies should be allowed to access U.S. capital markets—a move that could simply be accomplished by passing my American Financial Markets Integrity and Security Act.

We can also require increased scrutiny of activist investors in companies tied to national-security work or supply chains—particularly ones related to China—through my Shareholder National Security Awareness Act. Finally, we must ensure that Chinese companies, the only ones in the world that routinely skirt U.S. regulatory oversight, are no longer welcome to publicly list on U.S. stock exchanges.

Americans from across the political spectrum should feel emboldened by the growing bipartisan awakening to the threat that the CCP poses to American workers, families, and communities. As we deploy legislative solutions to tackle this challenge, Democrats must not allow our corporate and financial sectors’ leftward shift on social issues to blind them to the enormity of China as a geo-economic threat.


Welcome to the Party, Dr. Fauci

By The EditorsNational Review

Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies about the on-going federal response to COVID-19 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., May 11, 2021. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via Reuters)

Dr. Anthony Fauci is going to get a lot of grief about his seeming about-face on whether it is possible that the COVID-19 pandemic can be traced back to an accident at a Chinese laboratory. But it is much better that America’s most famous doctor — the face of the nation’s pandemic response — is keeping an open mind rather than, as he was previously, prematurely ruling out a realistic possibility.

A little more than a year ago, Fauci gave an interview to National Geographic where he said, “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated. . . . Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.” The article noted that Fauci “also doesn’t entertain an alternate theory — that someone found the coronavirus in the wild, brought it to a lab, and then it accidentally escaped.”

Since the lab-leak theory arose, there’s been a frustratingly persistent pattern of conflating “created in a lab,” the more remote possibility, and “accidentally released from a lab.” It is worth keeping in mind that certain types of gain-of-function research do not necessarily involve human-driven alteration of the genetic code of a virus. One form of this research, “serial passaging,” consists of taking a pathogen, exposing it to substances or cell hosts, finding the minority of viruses that can survive that threat, taking that tougher and hardier minority, and then repeating the process over and over again to isolate the mutations that make the pathogen most hardy, virulent, contagious, etc. Serial passaging amounts to speeding up the evolutionary process. Laboratory efforts like this would not necessarily “leave fingerprints,” and scientists have noted with concern that, compared with previous viruses such as SARS and MERS, this virus is nearly optimized for infecting the human respiratory tract.

At an event earlier this month, PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders noted that there is still “a lot of cloudiness around the origins of COVID-19” and asked Fauci whether he is “still confident that it developed naturally.” He answered,

No, actually, I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened. . . . Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.

Recent weeks have brought a sudden and spectacular public reconsideration of the plausibility of a lab leak from the scientific and journalistic establishment. “More investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic. Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable,” 18 reputable scientists wrote to Science magazine. The editorial board of the Washington Post concluded, “If the laboratory leak theory is wrong, China could easily clarify the situation by being more open and transparent. Instead, it acts as if there is something to hide.” Donald G. McNeil Jr., the prize-winning but now “canceled” former science reporter for the New York Times, concluded that “the argument that [SARS-CoV-2] could have leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology or a sister lab in Wuhan has become considerably stronger than it was a year ago, when the screaming was so loud that it drowned out serious discussion.” This comes a few months after the previous director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, “I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped.”

Welcome to the party, everyone.

It is good that the lab-leak theory is no longer being reflexively dismissed as a conspiracy theory, paranoid nuttiness, or ipso facto evidence of an anti-Asian bias. But this reconsideration is belated. Yes, some evidence has accumulated in the past year — the U.S. State Department memos warning about a lack of trained personnel at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), the claim that cellphone use in part of the WIV stopped for three weeks in October 17, and the World Health Organization investigation concluding that some WIV staffers got sick with flu-like symptoms in autumn of 2019. When the WHO team went to Wuhan, Chinese medical authorities refused to hand over raw data about the earliest patients. But little of that represents a game-changer in the facts on the ground. From the beginning, the world has been confronting a novel coronavirus closest to those found in bats that first emerged in a city that housed not one but two state-run labs researching novel coronaviruses found in bats.

Nicholson Baker’s lengthy cover piece in New York magazine contended that the lab-leak theory became a culture-war football, and scientists feared that discussing the plausibility of the theory could end up benefiting a president they detested:

Everyone took sides; everyone thought of the new disease as one more episode in an ongoing partisan struggle. Think of Mike Pompeo, that landmass of Cold War truculence; think of Donald Trump himself. They stood at their microphones saying, in a winking, I-know-something-you-don’t-know sort of way, that this disease escaped from a Chinese laboratory. Whatever they were saying must be wrong. It became impermissible, almost taboo, to admit that, of course, SARS-2 could have come from a lab accident. “The administration’s claim that the virus spread from a Wuhan lab has made the notion politically toxic, even among scientists who say it could have happened,” wrote science journalist Mara Hvistendahl in the Intercept.

Obviously, the evidence regarding such an important matter shouldn’t be evaluated differently based on who is president of the United States. “TRUST THE SCIENCE” has been a simplistic and not-all-that-illuminating slogan for much of this pandemic. This is another case where many of the same people who used that slogan most readily haven’t hewed to it themselves. There should be a reckoning over this rank failure, and instead of relying on WHO, which is compromised in important respects, U.S. authorities should investigate the origins of the virus to the extent possible.

Now that the rigid conventional wisdom on this issue is finally giving way, we should seek the truth without fear, favor, or politically motivated preconceptions.


TRADING ONE DEPENDENCY FOR ANOTHER

By Nadia SchadlowWar on the Rocks

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Image: Xinhua

Several of the Biden administration’s key climate goals — particularly steps to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the power and transportation sectors — are likely to be held hostage by China. A shift away from fossil fuels to renewables to produce electricity, and the deployment of more electrical vehicles on America’s roadways, depends upon batteries. Since China currently controls the entire life cycle of battery development, the Biden administration needs a strategy to mitigate China’s dominant position. While the president’s special envoy for climate, John Kerry, hopes to approach climate as a “critical standalone issue,” the fact is that geopolitics will shape the choices President Joe Biden will have to make. The Biden administration will not be able to “compartmentalize” its climate policies from the overall U.S.-Chinese relationship. China’s strength in the new green industries presents a strategic challenge.

Energy storage has been called the “glue” of a low-carbon economy, enabling the greater use of intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. The World Economic Forum argues that batteries are a critical factor in reaching the Paris Agreement goal of limiting rising temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius. By 2030, it stated, batteries could enable 30 percent of the required reductions in carbon emissions in the transport and power sectors.

Batteries and Bottlenecks

The battery supply chain is complex, but it can be reduced to four key elements: mining the critical minerals, processing them, assembling the battery parts, and recycling.

Under its “Go Out” investment strategy, China has spent the last two decades solidifying control over the main critical minerals for battery cells — lithium, cobalt, and graphite. Beijing now controls some 70 percent of the world’s lithium supplies, much of which is located in South America. More than two-thirds of the world’s cobalt reserves are found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and China has secured control over 10 of the country’s 18 major mining operations, or more than half its production. Beijing is also the world’s largest consumer of cobalt, with more than 80 percent of its consumption being used by the rechargeable battery industry. Graphite is the largest component by volume in advanced batteries, but spherical graphite, the kind that makes up the anode in electrical vehicle batteries, must be refined from naturally occurring flake graphite. And China produces 100 percent of the world’s spherical graphite.BECOME A MEMBER

Second, China has developed the largest minerals processing industry in the world. After these critical minerals are mined from the earth, they must be separated, processed, refined, and combined. This process is dirty and environmentally unfriendly. Lithium-ion batteries contain hazardous chemicals, such as toxic lithium salts and transition metals, that can damage the environment and leach into water sources. This is likely a key reason why few processing facilities are located in North America. The critical minerals the United States does mine are often shipped back to China for refining.

According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Beijing also controls 59 percent of global lithium processing, 65 percent of nickel processing, and 82 percent of cobalt processing. And an important aside is that China produces roughly 90 percent of the magnets needed for the motors of electrical vehicles.

As early as 2008, China announced billions of dollars in infrastructure investments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by far the world’s largest cobalt producer, in exchange for mining rights. The partnership continues to flourish. In January of this year, the Democratic Republic of the Congo formally joined China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative. The Chinese mining company Tianqi Lithium has acquired stakes in major mines in Chile and Australia, giving it effective control over nearly half the current global production of lithium. China controls even more market share in the refining and processing parts of the mineral supply chain. Together, these state-backed investments have given Chinese battery makers like Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) an advantage over Japanese and American competitors.

Third, once these minerals are processed, they are packed into battery cells, which are combined into modules and which, in turn, are wrapped into battery packs. This process takes place in dedicated battery factories called “gigafactories.” Like the rest of the battery supply chain, very few of these specialized factories are located in North America. About 136 of the 181 lithium-ion battery gigafactorieseither planned or under construction worldwide are, or will be, located in China. Just 10 are planned for the United States. An important step in the right direction is General Motor’s consideration of building a second battery factory in the United States — it already has a new facility online in Ohio — but the United States needs to do more.

Finally, once batteries have reached the end of their life cycle, the critical minerals in each cell can be reused. But China dominates the battery recycling industry as well. This is partially because China has built infrastructure to recycle lithium-ion batteries for consumer electronics. In 2019, around 70 percent of lithium-ion batteries were recycled in China and South Korea. And because China is by far the world’s largest electric vehicle market, it will remain a key contributor to lithium battery waste — thus allowing Beijing to recycle at scale.

China has been strategic about building up its recycling capabilities, requiring manufacturers of electric vehicles to be responsible for setting up facilities to collect and recycle spent batteries. As a part of this initiative, automakers were required to establish a maintenance service network to allow consumers to repair or exchange old batteries.Going forward, recycling will only become more important. By 2030, 11 million metric tons of lithium-ion batteries are expected to reach the end of their service lives. Eventually, a robust recycling process could offer a way for countries to mitigate some Chinese-controlled bottlenecks in the supply chain. But taking advantage of this will require environmentally friendly recycling facilities in the United States.

Commanding Heights: Technology and Leverage

China’s dominance across this supply chain should come as no surprise. As in other key economic and technology sectors such as flexible manufacturing, solar panels, and wind turbines, China has achieved dominance by careful planning and investments — as well as unfair practices such as those that led to the dominance of China’s solar panel manufacturing industry. (And it’s worth noting that this issue became one of the most contentious issues between the European Union and China as well.) In addition, many pointed to China’s massive intellectual property theft as a key contributor to its dominance in these key sectors.

Because China takes a strategic national approach, it has been particularly good at identifying key foundational sectors or platforms to grow or control, thereby increasing its economic and geostrategic power. For example, it has used its dominance in financial technologies across Asia to increase the power of its surveillance state by collecting the data associated with payments. It has prioritized 5G, and, with state financing and other forms of support, it has built out its network and is far ahead of the United States in land stations. Notably, this 5G infrastructure will have direct relevance to China’s ability to develop autonomous vehicles, since self-driving vehicles and other platforms, like drones, depend upon the fast connectivity 5G networks provide. (And autonomous vehicles are closely related to the electrical vehicle industry.)

Beijing’s “Made in China 2025 plan,” announced some six years ago, called for major advances in semiconductor fabrication and provided more than $150 billion to support that goal. Some recent reports suggest that China aims to produce some 70 percent of its domestic chip needs within China by 2025 and to reach parity with international technologies five years later. As Jonathan Ward has pointed out, “the mastery of advanced technologies and the creation of a powerful industrial base for civilian and military purposes” are essential pieces of China’s global strategy and activities. While the United States now increasingly recognizes this reality — with legislation such as the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act (CHIPS for America Act), as well as executive branch attention by both Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden — there remains a far gap between strategy development, desired outcomes, and actual implementation.

Advanced energy is another key platform. Thus, it is not surprising that the “Made in China 2025” plan also included “new energy vehicles” and “new energy” as one of its 10 areas of focus. Beijing considers advanced batteries and electric vehicles a key strategic sector worthy of extensive industrial planning. One report noted that, in the science and technology sector alone, the Chinese Communist Party has issued as many as 100 plans. Several of these, including its 2011 strategic emerging industries plan, focused on key strategic sectors, including the “new energy automobile industry.” In 2017, General Secretary Xi Jinping released an Outline of the National Strategy for Innovation-Driven Development that includes differentiated strategies to produce “modern energy technologies.” And China is using its “One Belt One Road” framework to make strategic investments around the world and vertically integrate its supply chain for battery production.

The Chinese Communist Party has recognized that pressure to address climate change will prompt a shift toward renewable energy around the world. With a regulatory push across Europe, some expertsanticipate that, by 2040, about 70 percent of all vehicles sold in Europe across different segments will be electric. Others believe that the global electric vehicle market — about $250 billion today — will grow to almost $1 trillion by 2027.

China has positioned itself well for this transition. On the one hand, China will have the benefit of cheap fossil fuels. China will not even begin to reduce its own carbon emissions for another 40 years, until 2060. It continues to build coal plants around the world. (In 2016 alone, Chinese development banks invested $6.5 billion in coal infrastructure overseas, mostly in neighboring developing countries). On the other hand, the Chinese Communist Party has positioned itself at the center of a global energy revolution.

If anyone has doubts about the determination with which this might unfold, China’s automobile market was virtually nonexistent until the early 1990s but surpassed the United States in 2009 to become the world’s largest.

Rewiring the global energy economy around China would provide Beijing with massive economic benefits. Experts have pointed out that China’s focus on energy security and technological self-reliance are key factors informing Beijing’s aim to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Chinese ministries have estimated that achieving this goal could lead to over RMB 100 trillion ($14.7 trillion) in investments over the next 30 years.

As a result, China has made significant advances in energy storage, leading Europe’s top automakers to move most of their research and development operations to China. Since 2018, the largest European carmakers (BMW, Daimler, FCA, Groupe PSA, Renault, Volkswagen, and Chinese-owned Volvo) have chosen Chinese partners for 41 cooperation projects. And European carmakers have also directly invested in their own research and development centers in China, establishing nine such centers since 2018.

Whatever the real intentions behind General Secretary Xi’s effort to put China at the center of an “an ecological civilization,” it is shortsighted and ahistorical to think that China will not use this leverage. It has done so in the past. In 2010, a Chinese fishing boat rammed two Japanese coast guard vessels in the contested waters of the East China Sea. When Tokyo arrested the fishing boat’s captain, the Chinese Communist Party retaliated by placing an embargo on rare earth sales to Japan.

More recently, in June 2019, Chinese state-controlled media threatened disruption of rare earth supplies to the United States — this time targeting U.S. defense contractors. The threat noted that “military equipment firms in the United States will likely have their supply of Chinese rare earths restricted.” This past February, China threatened to use export controls to cut off U.S. access to the equipment used for processing rare earths, a ban that would be as devastating as cutting off production of rare earths themselves. And Australia is feeling such pressure as China has restricted imports of Aussie beef, wine, and barley — and reduced the flow of Chinese students to Aussie universities — unless Australia submits to a list of 14 politicaldemands by Beijing.

This behavior is consistent with China’s use of “sharp power” — diplomatic, economic, or technological coercion — to pursue its policy objectives. This fall, China passed its first unified export control law, allowing the Chinese Communist Party to control the export of items including very broadly defined “dual-use goods” to specific foreign entities. As the Merics institute has pointed out, any exports that fall under “overall national security” — and the law appears intentionally vague — could be prevented, thus allowing Beijing to retaliate against countries or companies for policy disagreements or geopolitical reasons. Given Beijing’s designation of the electric vehicle and battery sectors as strategic industries, the Chinese Communist Party could potentially weaponize key bottlenecks in the supply chain against the United States.

Biden’s Challenge

For much of 21st century, the United States was dependent upon the Middle East for oil. As the Biden administration seeks to shift to renewables and reduce carbon emissions through the deployment of more electric vehicles, it should not trade one dependency for another. As one expert group put it, the modern-day arms race revolves around super-sized lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facilities and the mineral supply chains to support them.

Any successful effort to “position America to be the global leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles and their input materials,” as Biden has stated, cannot be based on a dependency on the United States’ most serious competitor. Rather, the United States should understand that American efforts will be contested — even if they are intended to help the “global good” of reduced carbon emissions. It is highly unlikely that Beijing, which has been working for years to “seize the commanding heights” in critical technologies such as batteries, will easily watch as its advantages melt away. In the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party, the battery race means that China and the United States are locked in a battle over market share and access to scarce resources.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has already reminded U.S. leaders that U.S.-Chinese cooperation in specific areas is interrelated and subject to the overall U.S.-Chinese relationship. Maintaining dominance in battery production — particularly as the world increasingly relies on batteries — provides Beijing with valuable geopolitical leverage. While the Biden administration would like to compartmentalize climate change and geopolitics, the likelihood of China not doing so is high.

Moreover, as Biden seeks to build technology alliances with Europe and other allies to counter China, China’s efforts will constrain his leverage. With European electric vehicle manufacturers dependent upon China, it is hard to imagine that the Chinese Communist Party will not use these dependencies to ask for concessions in other domains.

To avoid a potentially debilitating dependence on China, then, the United States should treat clean energy technologies as a competitive space.

The Biden administration cannot afford to start from scratch and should build on the work of its predecessor. As it begins its new supply chain review, of which advanced batteries are one part, it should keep in mind the lessons of the Obama era battery initiative. In 2009, the Obama administration announced $2.4 billion in funding to produce next-generation hybrid electric vehicles and advanced battery components. One goal at the time, was to “end our addiction to foreign oil” through a plan that “positions American manufacturers on the cutting edge of innovation and solving our energy challenges.” As part of this, the Department of Energy offered up to $1.5 billion in grants to U.S.-based manufacturers to produce these batteries and their components. So what happened to these efforts and others like it over the past decade? Without setting forth what went right and what went wrong, it is hard to see how new initiatives can make progress.

How will Biden’s current efforts to use green technology to stimulate the economy differ from past failed efforts? Despite a string of incentives in the stimulus act in 2009, the solar supply chain largely moved to China after that country’s government invested heavily in the industry.

In addition to specifying lessons learned from past efforts, any future policy initiatives  should take advantage of existing recent efforts. For example, Ellen Lord, the former undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, devoted significant time to identifying investment priorities, including the battery network. Since it takes five to seven years from the start of planning a battery-manufacturing plant and setting up a pilot production line to reach full operational capacity of a gigawatt factory that can produce several gigawatt-hours per year, the administration needs to concentrate some of its efforts on existing facilities, while encouraging new investments by U.S.- and foreign-owned suppliers.

The Biden team will also need to make choices, and fight for them internally. If the United States is to increase its processing of minerals for batteries in the United States, it will need to overcome the fact that such processing facilities are environmentally challenging. That tradeoff is worth it.

The new administration can make progress on its climate goals, but doing so will require a serious dose of climate realism, as well as a concomitant commitment to competitive policies to achieve U.S. independence from China in battery technology and manufacturing.


A Taiwan Crisis May Mark the End of the American Empire

America is a diplomatic fox, while Beijing is a hedgehog fixated on the big idea of reunification.

By Niall FergusonBloomberg

Diplomacy to a tee.
Diplomacy to a tee. Photographer: Tim Rue/Bloomberg

In a famous essay, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin borrowed a distinction from the ancient Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

“There exists,” wrote Berlin, “a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to … a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance” — the hedgehogs — “and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory” — the foxes.

Berlin was talking about writers. But the same distinction can be drawn in the realm of great-power politics. Today, there are two superpowers in the world, the U.S. and China. The former is a fox. American foreign policy is, to borrow Berlin’s terms, “scattered or diffused, moving on many levels.” China, by contrast, is a hedgehog: it relates everything to “one unchanging, all-embracing, sometimes self-contradictory and incomplete, at times fanatical, unitary inner vision.”

Fifty years ago this July, the arch-fox of American diplomacy, Henry Kissinger, flew to Beijing on a secret mission that would fundamentally alter the global balance of power. The strategic backdrop was the administration of Richard Nixon’s struggle to extricate the U.S. from the Vietnam War with its honor and credibility so far as possible intact.More fromArchegos Appeared, Then VanishedHedge Fund or Billionaire? For Tribune, It’s a No-BrainerIllinois Owes Georgia Voters a Debt of GratitudeOne Cheer for the Return of Earmarks

The domestic context was dissension more profound and violent than anything we have seen in the past year. In March 1971, Lieutenant William Calley was found guilty of 22 murders in the My Lai massacre. In April, half a million people marched through Washington to protest against the war in Vietnam. In June, the New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers.

Kissinger’s meetings with Zhou Enlai, the Chinese premier, were perhaps the most momentous of his career. As a fox, the U.S. national security adviser had multiple objectives. The principal goal was to secure a public Chinese invitation for his boss, Nixon, to visit Beijing the following year.

But Kissinger was also seeking Chinese help in getting America out of Vietnam, as well as hoping to exploit the Sino-Soviet split in a way that would put pressure on the Soviet Union, America’s principal Cold War adversary, to slow down the nuclear arms race. In his opening remarks, Kissinger listed no fewer than six issues for discussion, including the raging conflict in South Asia that would culminate in the independence of Bangladesh.

Zhou’s response was that of a hedgehog. He had just one issue: Taiwan. “If this crucial question is not solved,” he told Kissinger at the outset, “then the whole question [of U.S.-China relations] will be difficult to resolve.”

To an extent that is striking to the modern-day reader of the transcripts of this and the subsequent meetings, Zhou’s principal goal was to persuade Kissinger to agree to “recognize the PRC as the sole legitimate government in China” and “Taiwan Province” as “an inalienable part of Chinese territory which must be restored to the motherland,” from which the U.S. must “withdraw all its armed forces and dismantle all its military installations.” (Since the Communists’ triumph in the Chinese civil war in 1949, the island of Taiwan had been the last outpost of the nationalist Kuomintang. And since the Korean War, the U.S. had defended its autonomy.)

With his eyes on so many prizes, Kissinger was prepared to make the key concessions the Chinese sought. “We are not advocating a ‘two China’ solution or a ‘one China, one Taiwan’ solution,” he told Zhou. “As a student of history,” he went on, “one’s prediction would have to be that the political evolution is likely to be in the direction which [the] Prime Minister … indicated to me.” Moreover, “We can settle the major part of the military question within this term of the president if the war in Southeast Asia [i.e. Vietnam] is ended.”

Asked by Zhou for his view of the Taiwanese independence movement, Kissinger dismissed it out of hand. No matter what other issues Kissinger raised — Vietnam, Korea, the Soviets — Zhou steered the conversation back to Taiwan, “the only question between us two.” Would the U.S. recognize the People’s Republic as the sole government of China and normalize diplomatic relations? Yes, after the 1972 election. Would Taiwan be expelled from the United Nations and its seat on the Security Council given to Beijing? Again, yes.

Fast forward half a century, and the same issue — Taiwan — remains Beijing’s No. 1 priority. History did not evolve in quite the way Kissinger had foreseen. True, Nixon went to China as planned, Taiwan was booted out of the U.N. and, under President Jimmy Carter, the U.S. abrogated its 1954 mutual defense treaty with Taiwan. But the pro-Taiwan lobby in Congress was able to throw Taipei a lifeline in 1979, the Taiwan Relations Act.

The act states that the U.S. will consider “any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.” It also commits the U.S. government to “make available to Taiwan such defense articles and … services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capacity,” as well as to “maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.”

For the Chinese hedgehog, this ambiguity — whereby the U.S. does not recognize Taiwan as an independent state but at the same time underwrites its security and de facto autonomy — remains an intolerable state of affairs.

Yet the balance of power has been transformed since 1971 — and much more profoundly than Kissinger could have foreseen. China 50 years ago was dirt poor: despite its huge population, its economy was a tiny fraction of U.S. gross domestic product. This year, the International Monetary Fund projects that, in current dollar terms, Chinese GDP will be three quarters of U.S. GDP. On a purchasing power parity basis, China overtook the U.S. in 2017.

In the same time frame, Taiwan, too, has prospered. Not only has it emerged as one of Asia’s most advanced economies, with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. the world’s top chip manufacturer. Taiwan has also become living proof that an ethnically Chinese people can thrive under democracy. The authoritarian regime that ran Taipei in the 1970s is a distant memory. Today, it is a shining example of how a free society can use technology to empower its citizens — which explains why its response to the Covid-19 pandemic was by any measure the most successful in the world (total deaths: 10).

As Harvard University’s Graham Allison argued in his hugely influential book, “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?”, China’s economic rise — which was at first welcomed by American policymakers — was bound eventually to look like a threat to the U.S. Conflicts between incumbent powers and rising powers have been a feature of world politics since 431 BC, when it was the “growth in power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Sparta” that led to war. The only surprising thing was that it took President Donald Trump, of all people, to waken Americans up to the threat posed by the growth in the power of the People’s Republic.

Trump campaigned against China as a threat mainly to U.S. manufacturing jobs. Once in the White House, he took his time before acting, but in 2018 began imposing tariffs on Chinese imports. Yet he could not prevent his preferred trade war from escalating rapidly into something more like Cold War II — a contest that was at once technological, ideological and geopolitical. The foreign policy “blob” picked up the anti-China ball and ran with it. The public cheered them on, with anti-China sentiment surging among both Republicans and Democrats.

Trump himself may have been a hedgehog with a one-track mind: tariffs. But under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. policy soon reverted to its foxy norm. Pompeo threw every imaginable issue at Beijing, from the reliance of Huawei Technologies Co. on imported semiconductors, to the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, to the murky origins of Covid-19 in Wuhan.

Inevitably, Taiwan was added to the list, but the increased arms sales and diplomatic contacts were not given top billing. When Richard Haass, the grand panjandrum of the Council on Foreign Relations, argued last year for ending “strategic ambiguity” and wholeheartedly committing the U.S. to upholding Taiwan’s autonomy, no one in the Trump administration said, “Great idea!”

Yet when Pompeo met the director of the Communist Party office of foreign affairs, Yang Jiechi, in Hawaii last June, guess where the Chinese side began? “There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The one-China principle is the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.” 

So successful was Trump in leading elite and popular opinion to a more anti-China stance that President Joe Biden had no alternative but to fall in line last year. The somewhat surprising outcome is that he is now leading an administration that is in many ways more hawkish than its predecessor.

Trump was no cold warrior. According to former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s memoir, the president liked to point to the tip of one of his Sharpies and say, “This is Taiwan,” then point to the Resolute desk in the Oval Office and say, “This is China.” “Taiwan is like two feet from China,” Trump told one Republican senator. “We are 8,000 miles away. If they invade, there isn’t a f***ing thing we can do about it.”

Unlike others in his national security team, Trump cared little about human rights issues. On Hong Kong, he said: “I don’t want to get involved,” and, “We have human-rights problems too.” When President Xi Jinping informed him about the labor camps for the Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang in western China, Trump essentially told him “No problemo.” On the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Trump asked: “Who cares about it? I’m trying to make a deal.”

The Biden administration, by contrast, means what it says on such issues. In every statement since taking over as secretary of state, Antony Blinken has referred to China not only as a strategic rival but also as violator of human rights. In January, he called China’s treatment of the Uighurs “an effort to commit genocide” and pledged to continue Pompeo’s policy of increasing U.S. engagement with Taiwan. In February, he gave Yang an earful on Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet and even Myanmar, where China backs the recent military coup. Earlier this month, the administration imposed sanctions on Chinese officials it holds responsible for sweeping away Hong Kong’s autonomy.

In his last Foreign Affairs magazine article before joining the administration as its Asia “tsar,” Kurt Campbell argued for “a conscious effort to deter Chinese adventurism … This means investing in long-range conventional cruise and ballistic missiles, unmanned carrier-based strike aircraft and underwater vehicles, guided-missile submarines, and high-speed strike weapons.” He added that Washington needs to work with other states to disperse U.S. forces across Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean and “to reshore sensitive industries and pursue a ‘managed decoupling’ from China.”

In many respects, the continuity with the Trump China strategy is startling. The trade war has not been ended, nor the tech war. Aside from actually meaning the human rights stuff, the only other big difference between Biden and Trump is the former’s far stronger emphasis on the importance of allies in this process of deterring China — in particular, the so-called Quad the U.S. has formed with Australia, India and Japan. As Blinken said in a keynote speech on March 3, for the U.S. “to engage China from a position of strength … requires working with allies and partners … because our combined weight is much harder for China to ignore.”

This argument took concrete form last week, when Campbell told the Sydney Morning Herald that the U.S. was “not going to leave Australia alone on the field” if Beijing continued its current economic squeeze on Canberra (retaliation for the Australian government’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the pandemic). National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has been singing from much the same hymn-sheet. Biden himself hosted a virtual summit for the Quad’s heads of state on March 12.

The Chinese approach remains that of the hedgehog. Several years ago, I was told by one of Xi’s economic advisers that bringing Taiwan back under the mainland’s control was his president’s most cherished objective — and the reason he had secured an end to the informal rule that had confined previous Chinese presidents to two terms. It is for this reason, above all others, that Xi has presided over a huge expansion of China’s land, sea and air forces, including the land-based DF‑21D missiles that could sink American aircraft carriers.

While America’s multitasking foxes have been adding to their laundry list of grievances, the Chinese hedgehog has steadily been building its capacity to take over Taiwan. In the words of Tanner Greer, a journalist who writes knowledgably on Taiwanese security, the People’s Liberation Army “has parity on just about every system the Taiwanese can field (or buy from us in the future), and for some systems they simply outclass the Taiwanese altogether.” More importantly, China has created what’s known as an “Anti Access/Area Denial bubble” to keep U.S. forces away from Taiwan. As Lonnie Henley of George Washington University pointed out in congressional testimony last month, “if we can disable [China’s integrated air defense system], we can win militarily. If not, we probably cannot.”

As a student of history, to quote Kissinger, I see a very dangerous situation. The U.S. commitment to Taiwan has grown verbally stronger even as it has become militarily weaker. When a commitment is said to be “rock-solid” but in reality has the consistency of fine sand, there is a danger that both sides miscalculate.

I am not alone in worrying. Admiral Phil Davidson, the head of U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific, warned in his February testimony before Congress that China could invade Taiwan by 2027. Earlier this month, my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Max Hastings noted that “Taiwan evokes the sort of sentiment among [the Chinese] people that Cuba did among Americans 60 years ago.”

Admiral James Stavridis, also a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, has just published “2034: A Novel of the Next World War,” in which a surprise Chinese naval encirclement of Taiwan is one of the opening ploys of World War III. (The U.S. sustains such heavy naval losses that it is driven to nuke Zhanjiang, which leads in turn to the obliteration of San Diego and Galveston.) Perhaps the most questionable part of this scenario is its date, 13 years hence. My Hoover Institution colleague Misha Auslin has imagined a U.S.-China naval war as soon as 2025.

In an important new study of the Taiwan question for the Council on Foreign Relations, Robert Blackwill and Philip Zelikow — veteran students and practitioners of U.S. foreign policy — lay out the four options they see for U.S. policy, of which their preferred is the last:

The United States should … rehearse — at least with Japan and Taiwan — a parallel plan to challenge any Chinese denial of international access to Taiwan and prepare, including with pre-positioned U.S. supplies, including war reserve stocks, shipments of vitally needed supplies to help Taiwan defend itself. … The United States and its allies would credibly and visibly plan to react to the attack on their forces by breaking all financial relations with China, freezing or seizing Chinese assets.

Blackwill and Zelikow are right that the status quo is unsustainable. But there are three core problems with all arguments to make deterrence more persuasive. The first is that any steps to strengthen Taiwan’s defenses will inevitably elicit an angry response from China, increasing the likelihood that the Cold War turns hot — especially if Japan is explicitly involved. The second problem is that such steps create a closing window of opportunity for China to act before the U.S. upgrade of deterrence is complete. The third is the reluctance of the Taiwanese themselves to treat their national security with the same seriousness that Israelis take the survival of their state.

Thursday’s meeting in Alaska between Blinken, Sullivan, Yang and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi — following hard on the heels of Blinken’s visits to Japan and South Korea — was never likely to restart the process of Sino-American strategic dialogue that characterized the era of “Chimerica” under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The days of “win-win” diplomacy are long gone.

During the opening exchanges before the media, Yang illustrated that hedgehogs not only have one big idea – they are also very prickly. The U.S. was being “condescending,” he declared, in remarks that overshot the prescribed two minutes by a factor of eight; it would do better to address its own “deep-seated” human rights problems, such as racism (a “long history of killing blacks”), rather than to lecture China.

The question that remains is how quickly the Biden administration could find itself confronted with a Taiwan Crisis, whether a light “quarantine,” a full-scale blockade or a surprise amphibious invasion? If Hastings is right, this would be the Cuban Missile Crisis of Cold War II, but with the roles reversed, as the contested island is even further from the U.S. than Cuba is from Russia. If Stavridis is right, Taiwan would be more like Belgium in 1914 or Poland in 1939.


Look to the Reagan administration for the answer to the China challenge

By H.R. MCMASTER AND JONATHAN D.T. WARDThe Los Angeles Times

President Reagan in the Oval Office.
President Reagan in the Oval Office. 
(Scott Stewart / Associated Press)

Among the best remembered summits of the 20th century are those of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan’s commitment to dialogue with America’s primary adversary and what then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz called his “personal chemistry” with his Soviet counterpart were hallmarks of his presidency. But even more important was the fact that Reagan had a clear strategy for victory in the global contest with the Soviet Union.

Reagan’s approach — applying intensive economic and military pressure to a superpower adversary — became foundational to American strategic thinking. It hastened the end of Soviet power and promoted a peaceful conclusion to the multi-decade Cold War. 

Now it is useful to ask if a similar approach would be equally successful in America’s contest with an even more formidable rival, the People’s Republic of China, a challenger with whom the free world’s economies are intertwined and increasingly interdependent.

In 1983, Reagan approved National Security Decision Directive 75, which set the course for an assertive, competitive approach to the Soviets, in contrast to the “live and let live” aspirations of détente. Reagan drew on George F. Kennan’s innovative policy of containment, which acknowledged both the disastrous consequences of a hot war with the Soviet Union and the impracticality of cooperation with a Kremlin driven by communist ideology.

Working from Kennan’s original intuitions, the operational approach that Directive 75 emphasized was “external resistance to Soviet imperialism” and “internal pressure on the USSR to weaken the sources of Soviet imperialism.” Rather than trying to reduce friction with the Soviets as prior administrations had done, Directive 75’s aim was “competing effectively on a sustained basis with the Soviet Union in all international arenas.” Within nine years, the Soviet Union collapsed, worn out by economic pressure, an arms race it could not win and internal political contradictions.

The goal of a competitive strategy versus Chinese Communist Party aggression should be different. The United States and like-minded liberal democracies must defend against the expansion of the party’s influence, thwart its ambitions to dominate the 21st century global economy, and convince Chinese leaders that they can fulfill enough of their aspirations without doing so at the expense of their own people’s rights or the sovereignty of other nations.

These efforts must apply Reagan’s fundamental insight — to win against a rival of China’s magnitude requires sustained pressure against the true sources of the adversary’s power.

China is an economic juggernaut. Through its engagement with the United States and other major markets, it has made itself central to global supply chains, moved to dominate strategic industries and emerging technologies, and built up a military designed to win a war with the U.S. and its allies. Numerous multinational corporations and global financial institutions pump capital, technology and know-how into China. This transfer of capability and competitive advantage can be used against the free world to devastating effect. As the CCP puts it, China is poised to “regain its might and re-ascend to the top of the world.”

To foil China’s plans for preeminence, the United States and its partners should restrict investment into Chinese companies and industries that support the CCP’s strategic goals and human rights abuses. The U.S. should work to block China’s access to Western technology in areas that contribute to military advantage and to construct a new global trade and supply chain system that reduces dependency on China. With India, Australia and Japan, the U.S. must also maintain preponderant military power in the Indo-Pacific to convince Chinese leaders that they cannot accomplish their objectives through threats or the use of force.

In all of this, America and its allies should be confident. At the start of the Reagan administration, the Soviet Union, like China today, appeared to be at the height of its ambitions, exerting influence in every corner of the globe. One decade of focused American strategy helped bring about a peaceful conclusion to what many believed could have been an endless Cold War.

Just as Reagan generated the national and international will necessary to overcome the Soviet challenge, the Biden administration can galvanize efforts to compete effectively with an emboldened China. That effort will bolster the administration’s goal of building back the United States’ strength and prosperity.

The Trump administration’s recognition of that the Chinese Communist Party is a strategic competitor was a crucial shift in U.S. foreign policy. There is now a bipartisan consensus in Washington about the need to sustain a multinational effort to restrict the party’s mobilization against the free world. Applying pressure abroad and fostering growth at home will allow the United States and its partners to prevail in this century’s most important competition, preserve peace, and help build a better future for generations to come.


How to Protect Against China’s Plan for Economic Dominance

By George LandrithThe Economic Standard

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has consistently revealed itself to be a rogue regime. China operates “re-education camps” where unpopular minorities are systematically imprisoned, tortured, raped, and killed.The communist regime defends the existence of these camps while denying the atrocities committed in them. These denials are without even the semblance of credibility.

Over the years, China has been caught shipping children’s toys that had been painted with lead paint — decades after it was well known that lead paint is poisonous and particularly harmful to children.  China has also poisoned baby food and pet food with melamine — which in nutrition testing gives the food the appearance of having a higher protein content. But the food doesn’t have higher protein, and melamine can cause serious illness, organ failure, and even death. China has also been caught producing vitamins with dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals.

Of course, the PRC consistently denies any wrongdoing — just as it did in 2020 with the COVID-19 virus.The totalitarian regime lied about the virus, misled the world in important ways that cost millions of lives across the globe, and blamed others — all while never accepting any responsibility for the harm that they had done. That’s how dictators and totalitarians roll.

Why does China behave like this?  Because the totalitarian regime seeks not only to control and dominate its own population, but to ensnare the rest of us in its web of control. The PRC has a comprehensive plan to make itself the world’s most dominant power and it intends to use that power globally, as it has within its own borders. The PRC’s goal isn’t just to become the world’s largest economy or even to have the world’s largest military. The regime’s objective is to force compliance with its world view, its goals and its preferences.

The PRC is rapidly seeking and building a military and naval force; a space presence; economic, trade and shipping dominance; and technological supremacy. The PRC considers everything to be part of its plan to achieve world governance and control — everything from pet food to 5G wireless technology, from children’s toys to trade agreements and shipping, from software and apps to economics, from artificial intelligence to military force, from space exploration to infiltration of American academia.

The same PRC totalitarians who spy on their own people and systematically punish, imprison, torture and even execute them for having the “wrong” views, opinions, religious beliefs, friends, or family, want to expand the circle of their power. And they want you within that circle so that they can have the same control over you.

One of the PRC’s chief plans is to dominate world shipping — because it will give them both economic and military power. The global trade fleet is about 41,000 ships. China builds almost 1,300 ships a year. The US builds only 8.  China has become the dominant player in ship building and operating ports around the globe.

But China does not currently dominate shipping within the borders of the US.  That is thanks to the Jones Act which requires that ships used to transport goods between two American ports, must be American ships and American crews. Notably it does not prohibit foreign ships from making a stop in American ports. But between US ports, the Jones Act requires American ships and crews.

The Jones Act was designed to ensure that we have the shipping capacity, trained mariners, and the ship building and ship repairing capability required to meet our national security needs. The Jones Act also turns out to big a huge help in protecting the American homeland.

Some argue that the Jones Act is outdated and that it harms American competitiveness. But ask yourself these important questions — if we abolished the Jones Act, would you be comfortable with Chinese ships sailing up and down the Mississippi loaded with spies and high-tech electronics gathering intelligence and intercepting communications?  Would allowing China to have a constant presence in America’s heartland on the more than 25,000 miles of inland waterways make America more or less secure? Would abolishing the Jones Act help or hinder China in achieving its goals of world domination?  These are a few of the things that America must consider before listening to those who say the Jones Act should be repealed.

One thing is for sure — China would support the repeal of the Jones Act.  China’s totalitarian regime seeks to become our master.  We should not help them achieve that goal. That’s why we must have a robust and capable defense that is second to none. That is also why we need the Jones Act.


Chinese Malfeasance Is Hurting our Children, Babies and Pets

By George LandrithTownhall

Chinese Malfeasance Is Hurting our Children, Babies and Pets
Source: Chinatopix via AP, File

In 2007, it was discovered that the People’s Republic of China was shipping children’s toys to America (and other nations) that were painted with lead paint — a poison that can cause severe health consequences — including death.  As the scandal expanded, it was learned that it wasn’t just children’s toys that were tainted.  A wide variety of products from the PRC — such as pet food, toothpaste, lipstick, and even certain types of food for human consumption — were tainted with various poisons. 

China has also poisoned America’s pets.  In 2007, the FDA investigated pet food that was believed to have killed dogs and cats, not only in the U.S. but in Canada and Europe, and around the globe.  It turned out that Chinese manufacturers secretly added melamine which in nutrition testing looks like protein so that they could claim that their pet food had higher protein content.  But melamine isn’t a protein, it simply appears in tests as if it were protein. And in high concentrations melamine apparently can cause organ failure and death. More than 60 million packages of pet food were recalled. 

Of course, the Chinese government denied any wrongdoing — just as they did in 2020 with the COVID-19 virus. The totalitarian regime lied about it and blamed others and never accepted any responsibility for the harm that they had done. That’s how dictators and autocrats roll. 

Given this history, you’d think that FDA would be on alert for products with potential links to China that could put the health of Americans, especially children, at risk. Unfortunately, a recent congressional report concluded that the FDA has been asleep at the wheel. The report saidthat baby food companies “may be adding ingredients that have high levels of toxic heavy metals into their products, such as vitamin/mineral pre-mix.”

Most people don’t know that in 2019 alone, China produced nearly 350,000 tons of vitamins, which accounted for 77 percent of the total global output.China is also the big player when it comes to sourcing ingredients and raw materials for the global dietary supplement industry. But the country also has a severe problem with soil pollution, which means that its agricultural sector that produces the raw materials for vitamins and dietary supplements and food in general is systematically tainted. Experts say that at least one-sixth of China’s farmland is heavily or severely polluted with heavy metals.

Is anything coming from China safe? China has proven itself over and over to be willing to compromise the health and interests of consumers for its own gain. Even its electronics often contain backdoors that give the PRC access to private information. Most nations would make sure that the products it exports are safe. But the Chinese regime clearly doesn’t care.  If it is caught it denies any wrongdoing and often shifts the blame — just as we saw them do last year. 

The bottom line is that China cannot be trusted. The PRC doesn’t even care about keeping its own children safe from contaminated baby food. The FDA needs to treat everything that comes from China with suspicion. The U.S. government must realize that everything in China is done to advantage the PRC and the communist regime. We simply cannot trust in their goodwill.  

Hopefully, the Biden Administration will not turn a blind eye to the very real and very serious risks posed by China. It simply will not do to dismiss China’s horrific record as a matter of “different norms.” And it is not acceptable to downplay the threat that China poses by telling Americans “they’re not bad folks.”  The evidence is overwhelming and America must wake up and protect itself — its children, its babies, its dogs, and cats. We must see the PRC for what it is.


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