The most dangerous and destructive people on earth are the self-aggrandizing misanthropes who hold omnipotent hatred for the rest of humanity rooted in the unshakeable belief of their absolute racial superiority. Heightened tensions that have been created in the second decade of the 21st century by President Xi Jinping’s so-called “Chinese Dream,” his illegal maritime expansion across the Pacific Ocean, his soft globalism in Europe, Africa as well as South America under the guise of the “Belt and Road Initiative,” and most recently, his pre-invasion saber-rattling over the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan, call into memory the historical thesis about Han cultural superiority as well as the Chinese imperial “benevolent authority cum oppressive dominance” of its neighbors for the past three millennia. Over glorifying the superiority of “five thousand years of Chinese culture,” while being outrageously numb about its countless devastating catastrophes for the Chinese people and the rest of its neighboring countries, this tyrannical prophet of “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” defines the competition between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of the world as a cosmic confrontation of irreconcilable ideological antagonism between democratic liberalism and Marxist “class warfare.” In reality, President Xi’s worldview is nothing but the automatic rehashing of Confucius’s antediluvian hierarchical regime, in which a minority rules absolutely over the majority with expected wisdom and benevolence. Thus, in President Xi’s future global paradise, the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and its Politburo from their Olympian Heights would exercise a benign tyranny over their racially inferior states across the globe.
Contrary to the incessantly lying official Chinese propaganda, however, the People’s Republic of China’s path to utopian Communism is more an ideological garbage than a well-planned road to ubiquitous prosperity for mankind. As I already opined in a Frontiers of Freedom’s publication on August 6, 2012, and in a follow-up editorial on August 9, 2012, in The Washington Times, “China’s Approaching Implosion,” historically, China has been driven by permanent tensions between the despotic state’s boundless hostility toward society and the frequently violent anti-state sentiments of the Chinese people. Turning Deng Xiaopeng’s dictum of “Black cat or white cat, if it can catch mice, it’s a good cat,” into protecting the Chinese economy from the evil political influences of the democratic West under the slogan of “Chinese self-reliance” as well as “new development concept,” the future President for Life Xi Jinping in his ideological blindness is completely destroying his overambitious country. Instead of filling his concept with pragmatic content, he has subordinated sound economic strategy to empty promises concerning the eradication of the covid pandemic with useless Chinese vaccines and the stemming out of devastating corruption in the real estate market, in connection with the domestic banking sector. This ideological curse has resulted in protracted stagnation of domestic production and in sizable decline of the export as well as import of goods and services. Moreover, his attempts to promote China’s national currency internationally have been exposed as another mixed bag in President Xi’s amateurish “dog and pony show.”
Since foreign policy has always been a function of domestic policies, President Xi’s most recent Taiwan adventure is as discombobulated as his phantom “Socialism cum Communism with Chinese Characteristics.” His and his colleagues’ belligerent threats of imminent invasion must be taken very seriously. Therefore, the Democratic Republic of China and its supporters must be ready to repel this illegal aggression. Letting Beijing have its way in Taiwan, will embolden President Xi to expand China’s presence internationally by state-led military means to serve its nefarious political interests. The policy must be unequivocal: if China attacks, it must be defeated. This defeat must be crushing and extremely humiliating for President Xi personally too. Relentlessly bombarded by the Communist Party’s slogan of “turn your heart to the General Secretary,” meaning Xi Jinping, the United States of America, its European and Asian allies cannot show mercy to the tyrant.
Although the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda machine has succeeded, for the being, to convince the majority of the people that in the present troubled times internationally the country needs a strong leader, the accompanying revival of the ‘Cult of Personality” will unquestionably lead to total political, economic and financial catastrophe. Again, contrary to President Xi and his colleagues’ belief, the People’s Republic of China will never become the hegemon of the world. Its quintessentially racist ideology, hidden in the utopian idealism of prostituted Marxism, is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Yet, only reacting and building defenses against global Chinese ambitions are not enough. The United States of America and its allies must take the initiative and expose in its entirety the evil nature of Chinese expansionism. To demonstrate the urgent need to stand up to Beijing, it would suffice to call attention to the most recent vote of China on August 10, 2022, in the United Nations Security Council concerning its veto of listing Abdul Rauf Ashgar as a global terrorist. Having been the long-serving deputy emir of Pakistani jihadi organization Jaish-e-Muhammad, he has planned and actively participated in countless terrorist acts in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and beyond. The Chinese representative was the single opponent of Resolution 1267 of the Sanction Committee. Clearly, if allowed, China’s exclusively ideological globalism will transform into genocidal terrorism. For all these reasons, the People’s Republic of China must be stopped before it might destroy the planet.
Proof that the idiocy of intellectuals in academia and of hopelessly incompetent bureaucrats ensconced in their ivory towers knows no limit has been demonstrated abundantly in the post-Mao treatment of the People’s Republic of China by the United States of America, the member states of the European Union and other states allied with them. Having anointed themselves “foreign policy realists,” they declared that they alone have found the all encompassing diacatholicon to all the problems of mankind by always yielding to the blasterous threats of every tyrannical regime on earth. Specifically, under the dictum that “no one should humiliate the People’s Republic of China,” which in practice has meant endless concessions to Beijing, the democratic nations across the globe in general and the United States of America in particular, have been declared “warmongers” when they refused to lose or be humiliated by the tyrant de jour in mainland China. As always, the United States of America has been singled out for relentless criticism of its alleged animosity against the hard working Chinese people who want nothing else but to become as free and prosperous as their kins in the West. Clearly, these baseless theoretical illusions have shown the unrealistic yearning of these self-appointed foreign policy Messiahs for a world in which tyrannical aggressors always have their ways to the detriment of all the peace loving peoples worldwide. President Biden’s and his son’s corrupt dealings with the highest echelons of the Chinese Communist Party during the former’s tenure as Vice President only reinforced Beijing’s belief in as well as contempt for the decadent and greedy American politicians who would sell out their country for enriching themselves personally.
While this intellectual nonsense as well as political corruption are strategically as well as morally revolting, it surely has motivated tyrants all over the world to at least become more demanding or, in more extreme cases, march to the edge of nuclear abyss. The Chinese Communist Party-led People’s Republic of China has been no exception. Beginning twenty years ago, at the turn of the century, Beijing has undertaken the most extensive military buildup since World War II. In addition to destabilizing the entire continent around the Pacific Ocean, President Xi has openly demanded a new world order, in which his country would be the sole superpower. Boasting the second largest defense budget after the United States of America, Beijing has claimed sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and the surrounding maritime areas. Defying international law, Beijing has repeatedly threatened free navigation and has aggressively militarized countless coral atolls as well as artificially built additional reefs to expand the offensive capabilities of mainland China beyond its continental shores. All these have been done in contravention of a United Nations-backed Arbitration Tribunal that invalidated Beijing’s outrageously sweeping claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Of course, quite imperiously, Beijing dismissed the ruling as “sham” and non-binding on the People’s Republic of China.
Without a shred of doubt, the China threat is real. While the White House’s China policy does not extend beyond “preventing war and maintaining peace in Asia,” the recent developments surrounding Taiwan shall force the United States of America and all the affected states on the continent to prepare for war and win it decisively. Clearly, if invaded, Taiwan will surely be China’s Afghanistan and Ukraine combined. The recent highly provocative military maneuvers around the independent island, under the pretext of the American House Speaker’s visit, could royally misfire on the Chinese military. Although better than twenty or even five years ago, the Chinese military is nearly not as strong as Beijing is trying to depict. Mainly, it has been weakened by a staggering degree of corruption and the almost complete lack of combat experience. Moreover, the culture of the “one child policy” under Mao, has resulted in generations of spoiled men who have resented discipline. Finally, the readiness of the Chinese military will prevent a successful invasion and occupation of the Democratic Republic of China.
For all these reasons and challenges, the White House must undertake decisively resolute policies to forge an ironclad containment of the People’s Republic of China. The United States of America, combined with Japan, India, Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia, will always be stronger militarily, economically and financially than the People’s Republic of China. Although it might sound bold, the White House must contemplate abandoning America’s long standing “One China Policy” and recognize the Democratic Republic of China as a sovereign state that in reality it has been since 1949.
Historically, as so many Chinese lies, Taiwan has never been originally a part of mainland China. With the exception of some migration of the Hoklo people from Fujian and Guangdong areas of southern China, the Ming Dynasty only established a base of operation on the island in 1662. Following the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the Qing Dynasty ceded the island, along with Penghu, to the Japanese. In 1945, the government of the Republic of China, led by the Kuomintang, took control of Taiwan. In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek established the Democratic Republic of China that includes the islands of Kinmen, Wuqui and Matsu.
Although the United States of America and the European Union have recorded many failures in foreign policies in the last thirty years, the Free World cannot lose against Communist China, as it could not afford to abandon Ukraine to the Russian Federation. China’s aggression shall be nipped in the bud before it will develop into a full scale illegal war. Nothing less than the future of a free and peaceful world is at stake.
‘The U.S., in particular, will likely have to update and amend its mining regulatory regime,’ authors at the liberal Brookings Institute wrote.
A new report from the liberal Brookings Institute out Monday warned that the United States and European supply chains are too dependent on China for modern technologies such as electric vehicles, transmission, and energy storage.
The report, titled “China’s Role in Supplying Critical Minerals for the Global Energy Transition,” is urging Western policymakers to expedite an overhaul of their mining regulatory regime to meet 21st-century demand for clean technology.
“China is the dominant global player in refining strategic minerals,” the authors wrote, with Chinese operations refining 68 percent of the world’s nickel, 40 percent of the world’s copper, 59 percent of lithium, and 73 percent of cobalt. “Most notably, China holds 78 percent of the world’s cell manufacturing capacity for [electric vehicle] batteries, which are then assembled into modules that are used to form a battery pack.”
Beyond Chinese monopolization of electric battery production, demand for which is set to spike as the Biden administration reaches to achieve its goal of half U.S. auto sales being electric by 2030 with generous subsidies, Beijing also maintains a grip on rare earth mining.
The 17 rare earth elements (REE) are not just critical for electric cars and wind turbines, but also for aerospace and defense technologies. President Joe Biden’s aggressive expansion of wind power at the expense of a reliable power grid run by conventional sources, has only deepened American reliance on Chinese exports.
According to the Department of Energy, “demand for rare earth elements for wind power alone could exceed the supply for all uses by 1.6 to 3.5 times over.”
Although China dominates in the refinement of critical minerals and rare earth production, the authors emphasize Beijing lacks the upper hand in mining critical minerals such as lithium and cobalt. Together, Australia and Chile are home to more than 70 percent of the global lithium supply, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone extracts nearly 70 percent of the world’s cobalt.
“While China has a clear downstream competitive advantage, it does not dominate the upstream for critical minerals,” the authors wrote. However, the Chinese are working to change that. “With demand for critical minerals rapidly increasing, Chinese companies are striking new deals for minerals globally to secure raw mineral inputs for refining and battery manufacturing.”
American lawmakers have certainly taken notice of vulnerabilities in supply chains as global turmoil, from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to rising tensions with China, has ramped up the pressure to produce more critical minerals within the United States.
In June, the U.S. along with nine allied nations and the European Commission formed the Minerals Security Partnership, which is seen as a form of “metallic NATO,” to insulate stability and security in supply chains among members. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources also held a series of hearings on the nation’s supply of critical minerals this spring, where members of both sides of the aisle expressed a need to develop new American mines.
“From the technologies needed to support military readiness and combat climate change to the cell phones in our pockets or the cars in our driveways, critical minerals are essential to life we lead and the technologies we have come to depend on,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who chairs the committee. “Accelerating their production and establishing secure and dependable supply chains is vital to our energy and national security.”
Lawmakers have proposed reforms to the Mining Act of 1872, though uncertainty over the final outcome has continued to chill investment in the capital-intensive industry. A proposed lithium mine in Nevada, described by Reuters as “the first new U.S. source of the battery metal in decades,” is the sole exception after Panasonic and Toyota came to a deal to purchase from the project.
“The U.S., in particular, will likely have to update and amend its mining regulatory regime,” the authors of the Brookings report wrote, describing it as “outdated.”
Debra Struhsacker, a hardrock mining and environmental policy expert who has testified before Congress five times, agrees. The nation’s current regulatory mining regime, Struhsacker told The Federalist, “is fraught with delays and uncertainly,” with permitting processes, not environmental rules, in desperate need of reform.
“The U.S. has tremendous potential,” Struhsacker said, with rich deposits of lithium, copper, cobalt, nickel, and antimony, to name a few, waiting for harvest across the American continent. The nation’s complex permitting system, which has created a lucrative litigation industry to shut down major projects, however, has stifled the ability to develop new mines. “Part of the reason we have so much reliance on foreign minerals is because we’ve made our own lands off-limits to mining,” she said.
While Congress has struggled to put together a bipartisan package to stimulate American mining operations, Struhsacker said, she gives Biden a “D” on his performance addressing the issue.
In April, Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to support mining operations behind lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and manganese, but the administration has continued to shut down major projects from Alaska to Minnesota.
Biden’s Department of the Interior welcomed the new year with the cancellation of mineral leases for a copper and nickel mine in Minnesota. The proposed “Twin Metals” mine in the Superior National Forest, which Struhsacker described as a “world class resource,” would be one of the largest in the nation. In May, Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency moved to shut down plans for a trillion-dollar copper project known as “Pebble Mine” in southwest Alaska.
“The Biden administration is currently taking some steps to address these challenges related to political and stakeholder factors, but its efforts are not commensurate with the scale of the challenge,” reads the Brookings report. “Moreover, the administration has been unwilling to advance controversial projects like Pebble and Twin Metals, which are likely needed to significantly increase domestic supply in the short term.”
Struhsacker summed up her assessment of Biden’s approach as “schizophrenic.”
“On the one hand he’s giving policy lip service to the need for these minerals but he hasn’t really given his land management agencies the imperative to get critical mineral projects permitted,” Struhsacker said.
The mixed signals to the industry from the White House’s inconsistency, combined with a slow-moving Congress, is maintaining the status quo of reliance on foreign sources. In the end, that means an era of supply-chain vulnerability and higher emissions from overseas transportation as opposed to domestic mining operations here at home.
I’m not in the habit of saying that Nancy Pelosi is right. But if she wants to visit Taiwan next month as part of a congressional delegation to several countries in the Indo-Pacific, she really ought to go. Canceling the trip now would be a capitulation to tyranny.
Canceling now would mean that Congress buckled in the face of Chinese threats and the Biden administration wavering. It would establish the principle that Beijing has veto power over the travel plans of senior U.S. officials. It would tell the world that America is more interested in mollifying Xi Jinping than in supporting the democratically elected Tsai Ing-wen. It would be another example of self-deterrence, Biden-style. And America would be weakened.
Pelosi would be the first speaker of the House to visit Taiwan since Newt Gingrich in 1997. The Chinese Communist Party was no happier 25 years ago than they are today. Back then, the People’s Republic said that Gingrich’s support of Taiwan was “improper” and “contradictory.” China’s rhetoric has grown harsher as it has grown stronger. Earlier this year, when Pelosi first scheduled a visit in April, a Chinese government spokesman called it a “malicious provocation.” He pledged that China would respond “resolutely.” Then Pelosi got COVID. She had to cancel.
Last week the Financial Times reported that the trip was back on and rescheduled for August. Once more, the jackals in Beijing began to howl. The enslavers of Xinjiang, the oppressors of Hong Kong, the bullies of the Indo-Pacific acted as if they were the victims. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian threatened that China would “take determined and forceful measures to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The Chinese propaganda machine spoke forebodingly of consequences for the United States. A former editor of Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party’s version of Pravda, wrote of Pelosi, “If the U.S. can’t restrain her, let China restrain her & punish her.”
Punish her? Any hostile action taken against the speaker of the House of Representatives, no matter her party and no matter the circumstances, would be an act of war. Is China willing, much less prepared, to provoke armed conflict with the United States over a co-del? If so—and I doubt it—then China is itching for a fight and will ramp up its demands no matter what Pelosi decides.
If the visit does happen, China will respond for sure. But the cost it might impose on U.S.-China relations still will be less than the price of cancellation. Neither China nor the United States is prepared for a major confrontation. Better to take the hit to the relationship now than let Xi Jinping dictate Nancy Pelosi’s—or anyone else’s—itinerary.
As usual, President Biden is not helping. Asked about the controversy on July 20, he said that “The military thinks it’s not a good idea right now” and “I don’t know what the status of it is.” Thanks for letting the world know what the joint chiefs are telling you, Joe. And what a way to go to bat for a fellow Democrat. Another command performance.
Biden’s mention of his upcoming call with Xi—it took place on July 28—suggested that he doesn’t want Congress to get in the way of presidential diplomacy. That’s understandable. The elected branches always compete for foreign-policy influence and prestige. There probably ought to have been closer coordination between the speaker’s office and the White House. But once the visit became the object of China’s vitriol, the only sensible response was to close ranks and defend Pelosi’s right to travel where she pleases, when she pleases.
Why? Because China’s aim isn’t just to stop Pelosi. It wants gradually to isolate Taiwan by coercing the United States into abandoning a longtime ally. It wants to replace the United States as the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific. Giving China what it wants now helps it achieve its goals. If Pelosi can’t visit Taiwan, then surely other U.S. officials will think twice before traveling there. And if Beijing calls the shots for Washington, D.C., why should other regional governments take us seriously?
The Washington Post editorial board is wrong to suggest that Pelosi postpone her visit until “the optimal moment.” There is no optimal moment. There are only moments when we decide to act and take responsibility. Does the Post believe that China would be any less angry at a Pelosi visit six months or a year from now? “Given the temptation for Mr. Xi to divert attention and bolster his own political standing by targeting Taiwan and the United States,” the editors write, “it’s smart not to give him any excuses.” Reading those words, I hear an echo of Barack Obama. As if Xi Jinping needs an excuse to further his evil designs. As if America and Pelosi are the problem, and not the despotic, expansionist, belligerent government in Beijing.
“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Xi told Biden on Thursday, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. It’s a line Xi has used before. But who is playing with fire here? Pelosi, by following a precedent set by Newt Gingrich a quarter century ago? Or China, by trying to steamroll the speaker of the House? U.S. foreign policy works best when America acts boldly to create facts on the ground favorable to freedom. Which is why I am about to commit to print words I never thought I’d write: Go, Nancy, go!
The enduring illegal and terroristic invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine by the Russian Federation since 2014 and the People’s Republic of China’s equally illegal and terroristic expansion in Asia and elsewhere have given the lie to most Western intellectuals’ claim that if both would accept even a rudimentary form of capitalism they would also surely become more democratic. In reality, despite the halting westernization attempts undertaken by Gorbachov, Yeltsin as well as Putin and successive Chinese leaders since the death of Mao Zedong, both states are still radically incompatible in their political inculture, mentality, customs and institutions from the West in general and the United States of America in particular. To wit, they also remain separated from the Free World by NATO, the European Union as well as multiple unfriendly alliances in Asia, Africa and South America.
As a result, up to now, both states have taken only a secondary role in world affairs. Hence Presidents Putin’s and Xi’s coordinated call for a new world order, in which presumably their states would play the leading role. Taking advantage of the many institutional weaknesses of the European Union caused by the poorly thought out expansion in the new decade of the twenty first century, the Russian Federation has started to seize territories of the former Soviet Union in the eastern part of the continent. Corresponding to this dangerous situation, the present tyrant in the Kremlin is a born chauvinistic megalomaniac with a mentally sick temperament.
In Asia, President Xi Jinping is infused with dictatorial powers, but at the same time, has been hamstrung by a host of Confucian traditions and rivalizing local cum state interests as well as opinions, which he can only ignore at his peril. In this context, he is bound to take into account the wishes of the party and military bureaucracies, the thoughts of the local potentats as well as the guardians of the spirit of the 1949 coup d’etat. To appease all these divergent interests, he has embarked on an aggressive maritime expansion, including the threat of global invasion to the Republic of China. To show off his tyrannical side, he has been fighting the bureaucracies by ruthlessly clamping down on his country’s lethal corruption. Thus, his reign since 2013 has been characterized by a confusing cavalcade of internal and foreign contradictions. To summarize President Putin’s and President Xi’s political conditions, they are collectively compromised by their powers stained with the blood of the joint tyrannical past, their domestic as well as foreign political and military strategic shenanigans and tactical intrigues. These contradictory attributes – the uncompromising tyrant and the duplicitous coward – have never been separated throughout their bloody reigns.
Meanwhile, in the United States of America, single issue minority movements have been laboring aggressively on enforcement of false realities. Under the banner of “Political Correctness” cum “Multiculturalism”, allegedly fighting against “White Supremacy”, “Exploitative Capitalism” and “Evil Democracy”, they have brought pervasive hatred and senseless violence across the nation. Their idiotic pseudo-intellectual sociopolitical garbage have merely generated untold catastrophes and individual tragedies inside and outside the Union. Moreover, their inability to comprehend realities has been heightened by the failed ideologies of Marx, Stalin as well as Mao. In this manner, they all have divorced themselves from common sense and have become sheep-like slaves of a nonexistent should be future with a victim mentality. The election in 2020 of a president in the advanced stages of hopeless dementia, has only exacerbated their friend versus foe psychopathologies. Finally, the social media’s immoral manipulations of good versus evil phenomena have resulted in a sickening distortion of innocent versus guilt notions, in which these minority movements hunt for everybody who questions the absolute truthfulness of their inferiority complex driven unrealities. Unless it stopped decisively, this extremely dangerous fake herd ideology could destroy Western civilization with its absolute hostility to the core principles of individual liberty and burgeoning prosperity. Coupled with the Democrat Party’s “Open Borders” lawlessness, in which the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants reject assimilation because of their loyalty to their native culture, lack of views on free speech as well as tolerance for other persons’ opinions, they too contribute mightily to the growth of the fallacious myth of victimhood. In this tragic society of misguided illusions, normalcy is thrown out of the window and exiled to the massive garbage heap of the real world. More importantly, since a prohibitively large percentage of those semi-educated people tend to work in the federal cum state bureaucracies, in education and the media, their unmitigated lust for power and money will assure the maintenance of a well-nourished vicious circle of abominable hatred and manipulative lies. Clearly, the world resembles a rudderless ship without a competent captain. Similarly to Plato’s Ship of State metaphor, today’s political leaders across the globe are like the ship-owner who knows nothing about directing a sailboat. Underneath him, his underlings are equally uneducated about the profession of navigation. Yet, they prevent the skilled navigators from taking command of the sailboat. Appallingly, the world’s only superpower has been missing from the global stage since the end of the Reagan presidency. Because of that, the world has become an extremely dangerous theater of political rivalries by incompetent but power hungry so-called politicians. Meanwhile, Russia and China have become the epicenters of complex aggressions where all the elements of state terrorism are present. Europe has become a tangled mess. Asia is gearing up for multiple confrontations among its great powers. The Greater Middle East will remain snarled in tribal, religious and political rivalries. Africa seemingly cannot escape from its indigenous as well as colonial miseries. The states of Central and South America are stock in the twisted threads of their history and the peoples’ desire for a better life. No doubt that the world cries out for leadership. Restoring America’s greatness must be an urgent priority. To accomplish that, the people need to wise up and elect competent leaders who could act decisively to restore sanity to public life throughout the Union and beyond.
President Joe Biden thinks it’s important to decouple America from its reliance on fossil fuels. Most of America disagrees, yet he keeps pushing for the adoption of renewables to replace the energy that comes from traditional sources like petroleum and natural gas. That’s why we’ve seen the price we pay at the pump spike so high. Not that the green energy crowd is much bothered by that. To them, the decline in the consumption of fossil fuels reduces the production of greenhouse gasses, which is music to their ears. Yet while they call the tune, we pay the piper.
Most Americans are all for doing “something” about climate change but aren’t willing to pay very much to do it. If it’s a problem, it’s a global one. The U.S. cannot fix it alone. Every nation must participate. Some, like China, simply refuse and its use of coal is rising so fast that it wipes out any benefit the reduction of U.S. carbon emissions has had.
Most Americans don’t realize how reliant on China the Biden plan is. The hoped-for transition to producing electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar can’t happen without cheap Asian-made solar panels being allowed into the United States. Without them, the nation can look forward to rolling brownouts – which the White House would like to avoid in the coming summer months, causing it to move quickly to suspend the tariffs on them for two years, despite credible evidence of dumping.
Allowing Chinese-made solar panels and solar panels that use materials made and mined in China, probably by slave labor, into the U.S. marketplace because our government’s policies created a need for them is bad policy. The president’s use of the Defense Production Act to increase American-based solar panel production is a diversion, as Nick Iacovella, a senior vice president at the pro-manufacturing group Coalition for a Prosperous America inferred when he said, “You can’t say that you want to spur domestic production, and then allow the Chinese to continue to dump product, which is a direct threat and something that is working against increasing domestic production.”
What Biden wants and is doing takes U.S. energy resources off the board and stifles the innovations of producers working to supply Americans with cleaner, more affordable energy. Former Congressman Harold Ford, D-Tenn., got it right when he urged President Biden to “stop vilifying U.S. energy producers, many of which are leading the development of technologies to mitigate carbon emissions and make the transition to cleaner energy.”
If that were not bad enough, the president is also signaling his administration will overlook human rights abuses in the effort to make America green. Nearly 40 percent of global polysilicon production, which is important to the manufacture of solar panels, comes from China’s Xinjiang region. That’s where, according to the U.S. Department of State, genocide and slave labor are prevalent.
In its rush to make America go green, the Biden administration is ignoring the reasons to be wary of the role China must play. Congressional China Task Force Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said the tariff suspension amount to “amnesty to products that the administration admitted are linked to genocide and slave labor.”
These two concerns intersect in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where what a taxpayer watchdog calls a “Solar Boondoggle” is about to begin. In March 2022, VI Gov. Albert Bryan announced his intention to transition St. Croix – one of the three islands that comprise the USVI — to 100 percent solar power. A tall order under any circumstances, the fact the islands are still rebuilding after the 2017 hurricanes that devastated them and that solar power currently accounts for just 2 percent of its energy mix, makes it near impossible.
Andrew Smith, who heads the power company there, recently called the switch a boon to St. Croix “because solar is effectively free.” If the Biden administration ends up sending the bill for the transition to the U.S. taxpayers, he’d be right – and that’s the path Gov. Bryan says he’ll pursue.
In a recent interview, Bryan said he expected more federal assistance, specifically from the U.S. DOE, to build a new solar grid above and beyond the more than $1.4 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency loans already sent to the USVI. Meanwhile, St. Croix’s energy infrastructure remains unreliable.
The economics of the transition dictate the USVI must use cheaper Chinese components, regardless of their impact on American industry or the harsh realities of their manufacturing processes, if the plan to build out a new green infrastructure is to succeed. If what happens there is allowed to replicate itself across America, we’ll be in a heck of a mess.
ANALYSIS – I have argued that one of the most significant collateral benefits of Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has been to unify and strengthen NATO, not only against Russia but also against Putin’s greatest ally, Communist China, led by Xi Jinping.
While individual NATO countries were taking an increasingly complex line against China since President Donald Trump put confronting China front and center in U.S. strategy, Putin’s war (and China’s open support for Russia) pushed NATO to officially place China in its latest’ Strategic Concept’ planning paper.
This is a significant development. The U.S. can’t face China alone.
It also highlights the direct link more Europeans see between Russia’s assault on Ukraine and a similar Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
In its China Watcher newsletter, Politico, explains what this means and asks whether NATO can face off both threats simultaneously. It writes:
Congratulations to President XI JINPING. It’s official. China made it into NATO’s first revamped Strategic Concept in over a decade, formally adopted at last week’s Madrid summit.
NATO pointed to the “systemic challenges” that the People’s Republic of China poses while also holding out an olive branch for “constructive engagement.” Yet the language was tough, referring to Beijing’s “coercive policies” that challenge NATO’s “interests, security and values” as well as the PRC’s “malicious hybrid and cyber operations.”
In the bigger strategic picture, however, it is NATO’s depiction of Beijing and Moscow’s ever closer partnership that raises the largest concerns. NATO is not yet referring to a China-Russia “bloc” in its Strategic Concept, but it is clearly alerting the world’s democracies to the scale of the challenge they now face.
Enter the word “capacity.” Do the U.S. and its allies — especially in Europe — really have the resources and the willpower to hold the line if they are taking on Russia and China at once? The West is now locked in a confrontation over Ukraine that, absent regime change in Moscow, is likely to continue for year after dreary year without a clean and decisive conclusion.
Robin Shepard adds:
NATO firmly rejects the suggestion that China and Russia together are too much to handle. SpokespersonOana Lungescutold China Watcher: “Both authoritarian regimes are pushing back against the international rules-based order, so we are strengthening NATO in an era of strategic competition and deepening our partnerships with like-minded nations around the world, including our Indo-Pacific partners.… NATO does not have the luxury of choosing our challenges, we must face them all.”
The inclusion of China on NATO’s Strategic Concept has rattled the Communists in Beijing, especially as it follows the first NATO summit in June that included Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.
China’s mouthpiece, the Global Times, railed at this Aisa-focused summit, saying: “Catering to NATO’s Asia-Pacificization is tantamount to inviting wolves into the house.… The sewage of the Cold War cannot be allowed to flow into the Pacific Ocean.”
This is all welcome news for the West, but it will take a lot more than just talk and papers.
NATO will have to do much more to rebuild its military capabilities if it genuinely intends to back the U.S. and its Asian allies in facing the Chinese Red Dragon.
As the rest of the world reeled from the COVID pandemic in 2020, it looked like China had things under control. Americans and Europeans sheltered in place, while the Chinese enjoyed pool parties and weddings. The World Health Organization concluded in a February 2020 report: “China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic. This decline in COVID-19 cases across China is real.”
Turns out, China’s “bold approach” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. For weeks now, the country’s Communist leaders have imposed lockdowns on some of its largest cities to grapple with a spike in hospitalizations. China’s COVID vaccines are far less effective than those developed and produced in America and Europe. Despite state censorship, cell phone videos of average citizens yelling at the authorities have gone viral (so to speak). People don’t have enough to eat. They are imprisoned in their own apartments. Meanwhile, even the bluest cities in America are lifting mask mandates.
None of this should surprise anyone. On the one hand, China invests a great deal in trying to convince the rest of the world that it should be feared, and its leader, Xi Jinping, has accumulated increasing power.
But the regime has also blundered. Xi this year signed a sweeping pact with Vladimir Putin on the eve of Russia’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine. And China is gaining little from picking a fight with India in the Himalayan Mountains.
What Xi and his apparats do not understand is that every time they bully a neighbor or con an international organization, they are making a strong argument to weaker states that it is better to align with America than to accept Chinese hegemony. When the rest of the world sees that Beijing cannot control a virus that likely originated from one of the regime’s biological laboratories, that case gains strength.
None of this is to say that America should not prepare to confront China in the coming years. The Chinese have surpassed us in hypersonic weapons technology. China’s military buildup is real. But just as the world is now learning through Russia’s blunders in Ukraine just how incompetent and corrupt the Russian Army is, we should not assume a military untested in battle will be as menacing as Chinese propaganda would have us believe.
Totalitarian regimes look fearsome right until they crumble. Xi’s is unlikely to be any different.
The Chinese government has chosen to enforce its ‘Zero Covid’ policy with a degree of cruelty and zealousness the Chinese people haven’t experienced since the Cultural Revolution.
Reportedly responding to more infectious Covid-19 variants, the Chinese government has recently put 46 cities and 343 million residents under strict lockdowns. The ruthlessly enforced lockdown policies, empty shelves in grocery stores, and widespread food shortages have become a wake-up call for many.
After the Chinese Communist Party brutally cracked down on the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square in 1989, it offered the Chinese people an unwritten grand bargain: exchanging their political freedom for economic growth. The last four decades of economic reforms have lifted China’s living standards.
“Many Chinese believe that the country’s recent economic achievements—large-scale poverty reduction, huge infrastructure investment, and development as a world-class tech innovator—have come about because of, not despite, China’s authoritarian form of government,” observe Rana Mitter and Elsbeth Johnson in Harvard Business Review. The party’s censorship, tight control of all aspects of Chinese society, and the rising nationalist movement have left little room for dissenting from this view.
The CCP’s genocide in Xinjiang against the Uyghur Muslims and other minorities and the party’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement were stories that either received no coverage or distorted coverage in mainland China. Many mainlanders chose to believe the Chinese government’s rhetoric that these stories were manufactured by hostile Western forces who sought to destabilize China and stop the nation’s inevitable return to its rightful place as a dominant power in the world.
The majority of Chinese supported Beijing’s “Zero Covid” policy between 2020 and 2021, which relied on mandatory vaccination, testing, quarantines, and border control to isolate the entire nation from the rest of the world for more than two years. They point to China’s low Covid case numbers and deaths (many outside of China found those numbers highly questionable), in contrast to high case numbers and fatalities in the West, as evidence that China’s political system is superior to Western democracy.
Some in the West agreed. Early last year, New York Times China correspondent Li Yuan gleefully tweeted her piece, “In a Topsy-Turvy Pandemic World, China Offers Its Version of Freedom.” She claimed that “the pandemic has upended many perceptions, including ideas about freedom. Chinese don’t have freedom of speech, freedom of worship, or freedom from fear, but they have the freedom to move around and lead a normal day-to-day life,” thanks to the Chinese government’s aggressive response to the pandemic.
But the Chinese people and overseas cheerleaders of the CCP regime had a rude awakening this year thanks to the lockdown in Shanghai, a city of 26 million people known for their wealth and sophistication. The Chinese government has chosen to enforce its “Zero Covid” policy with a degree of cruelty and zealousness the Chinese people haven’t experienced since the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
For example, residents have been locked inside their apartments like animals, and some even have metal barriers and fences outside their homes. One foreigner in Shanghai told the BBC, “No one can get out, and I feel helpless.”
There’s widespread hunger because people are not allowed to go grocery shopping and the government-run food delivery has been meager. Guards in white protective gear beat residents who attempted to sneak out to buy some food or even tried to dig up herbs in the yard.
People with chronic illnesses or medical emergencies couldn’t get timely treatment. After a video showing a community worker in a white hazmat suit beating a corgi to death, pet owners have additional concerns.
Chinese social media is full of posts of desperate Shanghai residents pleading for food, medical help, or someone to take care of their pets. Adults have been taken from their homes and forced to spend weeks in poorly run mass quarantine camps, and young children have been cruelly separated from their parents.
Some of the Communist regime’s overseas cheerleaders have changed their minds following the brutal Shanghai lockdowns. Yuan of The New York Times, who lectured Americans that the Chinese version of freedom is more preferable than the freedom in the United States, recently wrote, “China’s ‘Zero Covid’ Mess Proves Autocracy Hurts Everyone.”
More importantly, what happened in Shanghai has evoked the older generation’s memories of the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, and shattered younger generations’ confidence in the government. More and more Chinese people have shown they’re losing faith in the Chinese government’s policies and narratives.
Some chose to speak out. Zhong Hongjun, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, said the government’s actions are so “inhumane” that he regretted supporting the “Zero Covid” policy.
Some chose to protest. In one residential compound, residents clashed with health authorities and police in a desperate attempt to block the government from turning their housing complex into quarantine camps for Covid patients. Police arrested several protesters.
Since speaking out and protesting in broad daylight are dangerous in an authoritarian regime, others chose more discrete ways to express their anger and frustration. A six-minute video titled “The Voice of April” went viral in China on April 22. It included voices of Shanghai residents complaining about food shortages and lacking medical care and revealing the human toll of the government’s Covid policies.
The video had millions of views, and Chinese netizens tried many creative ways to preserve and share it before the censors took it down, including saving copies on blockchains. Zeyi Yang, a writer for Technology Reviews, calls the Chinese netizens’ actions an example of “digital protesting.”
There are other signs that more Chinese people are losing faith in the Chinese government after witnessing what has happened in Shanghai. China’s capital city Beijing is facing a Covid-19 outbreak. Worrying that Beijing would undergo a Shanghai-style lockdown, Beijing residents stocked up on food and wiped grocery stores clean, despite government officials’ repeated announcements of no food shortages.
There are indications the lockdowns will result in an exodus of people and capital. An online survey revealed that about 85 percent of Shanghai’s expat residents were considering leaving China due to its lockdown policies. Shanghai-based immigration consultants reported that immigration inquiries from wealthy Shanghai residents have skyrocketed.
One consultant received more than 200 immigration inquiries in one day. He explained that “The authorities are making people sacrifice their basic needs to fight a disease that’s a bit more severe than seasonal flu. Our clients chose to vote with their feet.”
Since the Chinese government has put hundreds of millions of residents under lockdown, Shanghai residents’ torment has been repeated in many other parts of China, so many share Shanghai residents’ anger and frustration. Not surprisingly, more Chinese people have woken up from the government’s lies and cruelty. Beijing’s insistence on harsh “zero Covid” measures may become the regime’s undoing, as more and more Chinese have finally learned that their health, safety, and prosperity are not secure without political freedom.
Even before the absolutely illegal and sickeningly barbaric invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China as well as his predecessors have done their utmost to crank up their country’s excessively ambitious territorial demands vis-a-vis their neighbors. Accordingly, waving the red flag of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” President Xi has indulged himself in gross historical falsifications and the threat of nuclear armageddon, if his vision of China’s civilizational superiority and great power status are not accepted unconditionally by the rest of the world. This outlandish behavior, combined with President Putin’s increasingly insane demeanor, requires an uncompromising and firm resolve of the world community.
Most importantly, the world in general and the United States of America as well as its allies in particular must internalize the lessons from not preempting President Putin’ war on Ukraine. Mindlessly rushing to Moscow and trying to dissuade him from taking a violent course of action without a clear strategy of absolute deterrence, including the credible threat of indirect military intervention on behalf of Ukraine by NATO, was doomed to abysmal failure from the beginning. Courting President Putin only gave the appearance both domestically as well as internationally that he is on the right side of history, namely, that his fallacious grievances and blatant lies about the internal conditions in Ukraine are well justified. Moreover, begging him to change his mind and to be rational only projected the West’s predicted Marxian softness and decadence vis-a-vis the overwhelmingly mighty Russian Despot. In reality, however, Putin’s despotism is a weak political construct. In its core, it is woefully incompetent and irredimably corrupt. Regrettably, the same mistakes are being committed in the West’s dealings with President Xi’s politically equally incompetent and economically precariously corrupt People’s Republic of China.
As Russia’s illegitimate war against Ukraine has stalled and President Putin’s badly trained military is reduced to barbaric terrorism against civilians, President Xi’s excessively praised military is also weaker by degrees from its official presentations by the self-serving narratives of the Chinese Communist Party bureaucrats. An effective military cannot be created, let alone maintained, unless its fundamental principles are rooted in the political, economic and moral stability of the government. Since the People’s Republic of China’s political system has been based on the despotic reign of a succession of ruthless manipulators, oppression has always been an instrument of power that has been unleashed uncontrollably rather than moderated by reason. In this context, President Xi, like Mao Zedong, abhors proven political and cultural principles of the pre-Communist era and has only used them for the sake of deception. Accordingly, neither of them has been a realist – they both have been illusionary visionaries. For men like these, nothing is more annoying than realists who try, albeit mostly unsuccessfully, to curb them.
The results have been political leaders who are no longer pragmatists, namely, politically sane individuals. In this manner, their underlings are nothing but useful idiots who have been tasked with fortifying the unrealistic illusionary visions of their Leader de jour. Thus, the Chinese military mess has always been closely related to the regime’s manifold problems. While Mao’s ragged “people’s army” has destroyed the existing as well as the old regimes and superimposed on their ruins the “Dictatorship of the Peasants and Workers,” it was incapable of establishing a stable and peaceful administration to replace them. The product of all these vague aspirations and unrealistic visions is the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Because of its badly defined functions within the Chinese version of Asiatic despotism, the People’s Liberation Army has been more a tool of domestic power struggle and oppression than a military designed to carry out offensive objectives. When it did in 1969 in the Sino-Soviet border war, against Vietnam in 1979 in response to Vietnam’s military actions against the rule of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge, and the ongoing China-India border hostilities in Pangong Lake, in Ladakh as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region between 2020-2022, the Chinese military has done rather poorly. Its ranks filled with the male products of Mao’s “one child policy,” those pampered boys’ mental strength and physical endurance could not match the discipline of their enemies.
The common denominator in Presidents Putin’s and Xi’s policies is the desire to destroy the present order of the world in the belief that their successive creation would be better and more equitable. Yet, by now it is abundantly clear that Russia has remained as backward as it has been for centuries and China’s economy has been in steady decline since 2013, when President Xi first ascended to the pinnacle of political and military power. The case in point is Mr. Liu Ho’s recent desperate plea to foreign investors to stay with their Chinese investments, because there is nothing wrong with the Chinese economy. Mr. Liu, who is the most influential economic advisor to President Xi, has promised major government actions to stimulate the economy to perform better. However, a large dose of skepticism is in order. The structural miseries of the Chinese command economy could only be solved by opening up the political system and by allowing both domestic and foreign businesses to operate under legally transparent conditions – without political pressures and the systematic as well as institutionalized Chinese corruption. Russia’s war on Ukraine has not been born out of the belligerence of NATO or the “Fascist” and “Genocidal” nature of President Zelenskyy’s administration. It has been born – like all the previous wars of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union – of the political, economic, financial, cultural and moral disorder which this troubled country has been subjected to from its very inception in the middle of the 16th century. The Chinese state in its present reincarnation is not different from President Putin’s self-engineered internal chaos and coming international catastrophe. The fate of Hong Kong, the future of Taiwan, the completely illegal expansion of China in the South China Sea and beyond and the ubiquitous corruption accompanying China’s expansion across the globe, should be sufficient reasons to establish an uncompromising strategy against its wholesale attempts at global destruction. If the anti-Russian and anti-Chinese coalitions remain strong, the world will be saved again from the monsters of evil despotisms.
The U.S. economy runs on startups. For all of America’s mega-corporations, it’s young firms that create most of our new jobs during periods of economic growth. Those startups depend on America’s famously strong laws protecting their inventions and intellectual property. The only way someone with a big idea but minimal resources can out-compete established firms is through government protection of their innovations.
Today, we are failing in that responsibility. Our laxity is empowering predators foreign and domestic — endangering not only the next Apple, Microsoft, or Facebook, but our entire economy.
For years, the greatest threat to American intellectual property has been China. Chinese IP piracy became endemic — totaling an estimated $600 billion in costs to the U.S. per year. A CNBC survey of American corporations found that one-third had experienced IP theft by Chinese pirates. Testifying before Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “I think it’s well documented that the Chinese government steals technology from American companies.”
More telling than Zuckerberg’s acknowledgment was the strange equivocation by other Big Tech executives at the hearing. The CEOs of Apple, Amazon, and Google — individuals famous for their breadth of knowledge and laser focus on their businesses — all shrugged and testified only that they hadn’t personally seen any Chinese IP piracy.
There is a reason those firms might not want to shine a light on IP theft: it’s a valuable part of their own business models.
In January, the U.S. International Trade Commission issued a ruling finding that Google infringed on five patents belonging to Sonos, a company that makes smart speakers. The story is a worst-case scenario for a startup. Sonos developed one of the most advanced wireless audio systems in the market — a product so impressive that Google wanted to partner with the company. Sonos alleges that early in the partnership, Google lifted Sonos-patented technology for Google’s own audio equipment.
Sonos was no fluke. Google faced 48 patent infringement lawsuits in 2021. But Google is not the only perpetrator.
In 2020, a federal jury ordered Amazon to pay $5 million to Texas-based Vocalife for infringing on its patents. Apple was recently ordered to pay $300 million in damages to Optis Wireless Technology for infringement.
It’s no accident that the number of IP lawsuits rose in 2020 for the first time since 2015, and court awards rose to $4.67 billion from just $1.5 billion in 2019.
It makes holding China to account much harder. If the richest and most powerful businesses in America are ignoring our intellectual property laws — why shouldn’t our global adversaries?
The issue here isn’t complicated: When laws against theft aren’t enforced, thieves are going to steal. Slaps on the wrist aren’t going to deter pickpockets in Beijing, Silicon Valley, or anywhere else. Congress has to tighten up our IP laws and stiffen penalties, and the Justice Department needs to ramp up enforcement while there are still startups left to save.
One noteworthy aspect of the American Dream is that the most important businesses of 20 years from now are probably ones we haven’t heard of yet. In order for them to lead us into the future, the government must protect them from foreign adversaries and Big Tech.
Pentagon gives $35 million to subsidize MP Materials's rare earth mineral production
The White House on Tuesday featured a mining company partially owned by a Chinese mining conglomerate at an event dedicated to strengthening the domestic supply chain.
President Joe Biden announced at the event that the Pentagon would award $35 million to the Las Vegas-based MP Materials in an effort to boost U.S. rare mineral production. But MP Materials has arguably allowed China to tighten its grip on the world’s rare earth minerals supply chain. Shenghe Resources Holding, which is partially owned by the Chinese government, owns 8 percent of the company. Shenge spearheaded the deal in 2017 to help MP Materials purchase a mine at Mountain Pass, Calif., out of bankruptcy. The Chinese company is also MP Materials’s largest customer, accounting for nearly all of its $100 million annual revenue.
MP Materials’s links to China have long concerned American officials. The Department of Energy warned its scientists in 2020 not to collaborate with MP Materials executives because of China’s links to the company, Reuters reported.
“Clearly, the MP Materials ownership structure is an issue,” Tom Lograsso, an official with the Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute, told Reuters.
The Pentagon award will subsidize MP Materials’s production of heavy rare earth minerals at its mine at Mountain Pass. The minerals are used to produce high-powered magnets used in electric vehicle motors, wind turbines, and defense systems.
James Kennedy, a consultant in the rare earth minerals industry, has raised concerns about other Pentagon grants to MP Materials. Kennedy called Shenghe’s investment in MP Materials a “geopolitical ruse” that helps China maintain a monopoly on the rare earth minerals market.
Those concerns have not deterred the White House. MP Materials chairman James Litinsky spoke at the virtual White House event alongside Biden, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D., Calif.), White House infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu, and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
Litinsky said MP Materials was “committed to bringing the supply chain home” to the United States but made no mention of his company’s links to Shenghe Resources Holding. He said MP Materials has partnered with General Motors to produce magnets for 500,000 electric vehicle motors.
It is unclear whether the Pentagon has placed any restrictions on MP Materials’s dealings with Shenghe going forward.
Shenghe’s investment in MP Materials is part of an ambitious plan to stabilize China’s supply of rare earth minerals. The company has also partnered with companies in Greenland and Australia to mine rare minerals, Quartz reported. One goal is to “consolidate the achievements of overseas cooperation projects.”
MP Materials did not respond to a request for comment.
The pandemic has revealed Americans to be tacit Social Darwinists, while trapping the Chinese in a vast Panopticon.
Authoritarian regimes tend to boast about themselves and denigrate their rivals. President Xi Jinping’s China is no exception. “As the Covid-19 epidemic takes away hundreds of lives every day in the U.S.,” wrote Hu Xijin, the former editor-in-chief of the Global Times, on Jan. 14, “that country’s propaganda machinery is engaging in vicious smears against China’s dynamic zero-case policy of epidemic prevention … Think about it. More than 800,000 Americans died from Covid-19 in the U.S. Behind these numbers, how many sad and desperate stories are there?”
“The experience and facts of the past two years,” wrote Guo Yan in the Economic Daily five days later, “have shown that China’s general strategy of ‘foreign defense against imported [cases] and domestic defense against breakouts’ and the general policy of ‘dynamic clearing’ are the Covid prevention policies best suited to China’s own national conditions on top of being beneficial to the world … It is the inaction and chaotic actions of some policy makers that have caused the American people to fall into the epidemic crisis time and time again.”
Might the Chinese be right? As we reach the second anniversary of the Covid pandemic, perhaps the most surprising thing is how many Americans have lost their lives compared to how few have perished in China. How are we to explain this astonishing divergence?
The simple answer is that, despite being the source of the virus that caused the pandemic, the Chinese managed containment very successfully, while the U.S. bungled everything from testing to mask-wearing to quarantining.
Some people go even further, arguing (as does Chinese Communist Party propaganda) that the difference in death tolls illustrates the superiority of China’s political system over America’s corrupt and self-indulgent democracy. However, I have never bought this second argument. And I am no longer satisfied with the first.
We now have a U.S. death toll of between (depending on your source) 860,000 and 883,000 deaths due to Covid, the 20th-highest mortality relative to population globally. Actual mortality is running at 19% above the expected figure (compared with 5% in Canada). We are heading for a million deaths by May. According to the Economist, we may already be there.
True, in relative terms — deaths per million — U.S. mortality is not the worst in the world (it ranks 19th). In terms of excess mortality, too, the U.S. has fared better than a number of Latin American and Eastern European countries. The puzzle remains that on paper — according to the Global Health Index published in 2019 — the U.S. was better prepared for a pandemic than any other country.
Even more remarkable is how few Chinese the new coronavirus has killed: Fewer than 5,000, meaning a death rate three orders of magnitude smaller than the U.S. rate. Considering that the pandemic originated in Wuhan, this is an astonishing achievement. Of course, skepticism is always warranted where Chinese statistics are concerned. But even the Economist’s estimates, which suggest that there may have been significantly higher excess mortality in China, point to a far lower relative death toll than in the U.S.
Two things explain the remarkably high mortality the U.S. has suffered in this pandemic. First, the American public health bureaucracy failed utterly. Initially, when we knew very little except that it was contagious and dangerous, the relevant agencies were staggeringly complacent when they should have been frantically testing, tracing and isolating.Sponsored ContentWhy Decisions Made Now Will Steer the Net Zero TrajectoryUBS
Then, in March 2020, the official mind flipped from complacency to panic, partly on the basis of a paper by the British epidemiologist Neil Ferguson (no relation), who argued that we had to lock people in their homes until vaccines were available or 2.2 million Americans would die.
As it became clear that this approach would wreck the global economy, the public health officials resorted to improvisation, alternately tightening and loosening restrictions on economic and social life in a reactive and mostly ineffective way. Masks were at first dismissed as unnecessary, then became mandatory even in some outdoor locations, where they served no purpose.
When some skeptical scientists challenged the wisdom of lockdowns, the public health establishment was dismissive. The Great Barrington Declaration, published in October 2020 by Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff, Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta and Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya, offered a persuasive critique of blanket pandemic lockdowns, arguing instead for “focused protection” of vulnerable groups such as the elderly or those with medical conditions.
“This proposal from the three fringe epidemiologists … seems to be getting a lot of attention,” Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, emailed Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. “There needs to be a quick and devastating published take down of its premises … Is it underway?”
Now that we have vaccines with high efficacy and a variant that causes mild flu-like symptoms in most vaccinated people, the official mind remains wedded to its playbook — in the parts of the U.S. where most people are vaccinated, such as northern California, where I live. Educational institutions have reverted to remote learning (an oxymoron, as everyone knows); masks are ubiquitous, even outdoors; a host of petty regulations persist.
Meanwhile, in the states with significant numbers of unvaccinated and vulnerable people, almost no precautions are taken. Consequently, the intensive care units are filling up once again. I make this the fifth wave of Covid in the U.S., and already mortality relative to population is higher than in South Africa, Denmark and the U.K., where the omicron variant struck sooner.
Yet there is a second reason for the relatively high American mortality during the pandemic, which has to do with public attitudes and behavior. I have come to the conclusion, after observing my fellow Americans for two years that — whatever our public health officials may tell us, and whatever some of us may say — in practice and in aggregate we are a nation of Social Darwinists.
Social Darwinism is a contentious term, I know, but its history is illuminating. A century ago, the ideas that came to be summed up as Social Darwinism by historians such as Richard Hofstadter were not limited to a far-right lunatic fringe. They derived from the writings of some of the era’s pre-eminent proponents of social progress.
Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) was the English philosopher who did most to import ideas derived from Charles Darwin and other evolutionary theorists (notably Jean-Baptiste Lamarck) into the study of contemporary human societies. In works such as “First Principles” (1862), “Principles of Biology” (1864) and “The Man Versus the State” (1884), Spencer sought to discern universal laws of evolution.
One of his key contentions was that most social interventions by government were harmful, no matter how well-intentioned, because they interfered with the natural laws of evolution, which were the main driver of progress.
Some Social Darwinists went even further, arguing that infectious disease had a role to play in promoting the survival of the fittest. Franz Ignaz Pruner, a German physician, anthropologist and racial theorist, wrote “The Global Cholera Pandemic and Nature’s Police” (1851), based partly on his observations in Egypt. Wherever Europeans and Americans established colonies in the tropics, officials would periodically muse that the terrifyingly high mortality rates arising from disease — and of course from poor sanitation and malnutrition — must, like famines in India, be part of some providential design.
It was a relatively short step from Social Darwinism to eugenics — the theory popularized by Francis Galton, Karl Pearson and others that government should actively promote the reproduction of the “fit” and limit the reproduction of the “unfit.”
It is easy to forget today how influential such notions were a century ago, when they appealed almost as much to progressives as to proto-fascists. Chicago sociologist and reformer Charles Henderson opposed immigration of the “unfit,” proposed that the “feebleminded and degenerate” be banished to rural labor colonies and sterilized to “prevent their propagation of defects and thus the perpetuation of their misery in their offspring.”
As Spencer had made clear, it was a guiding principle of Social Darwinism that public-health legislation “defeats its own end” and “favours the multiplication of those worst fitted for existence, and, by consequence, hinders the multiplication of those best fitted for existence.”
In “Social Statics,” he used language echoed today by American libertarians:
If … it is the duty of the state to protect the health of its subjects, it is its duty to see that all the conditions of health are fulfilled by them. Shall this duty be consistently discharged? If so, the legislature must enact a national dietary: prescribe so many meals a day for each individual; fix the quantities and qualities of food, both for men and women; state the proportion of fluids, when to be taken, and of what kind; specify the amount of exercise, and define its character; describe the clothing to be employed … and to enforce these regulations it must employ a sufficiency of duly-qualified officials, empowered to direct every one’s domestic arrangements.
Like many of today’s critics of the public-health agencies, Spencer argued that the medical profession and bureaucrats were actuated by self-interest rather than altruism and had an “unmistakable wish to establish an organized, tax-supported class, charged with the health of men’s bodies, as the clergy are charged with the health of their souls.”
Reading “Social Statics” today, you see how completely Spencer lost the argument. As we enter the third year of the Covid pandemic, the public-health clergy have established themselves in precisely the kind of well-paid positions of power that Spencer foresaw, leaving a motley array of lockdown skeptics and anti-vaxxers to rehash his old arguments.
I have tended to steer clear of the lockdown skeptics and to heap opprobrium on the anti-vaxxers. But what we really see in both cases is a kind of revival of Social Darwinism that extends beyond the militant opponents of lockdowns and vaccines to include the many millions of Americans who over the past two years have simply flouted the pandemic rules. Ignoring the prescriptions of an intrusive nanny state, or complying with them so carelessly as to render them ineffective, they have tacitly given free rein to the principle of the survival of the fittest.
Compared with Western Europeans and especially with East Asians, Americans have a remarkably high tolerance of excess mortality, especially when it is heavily concentrated in politically underrepresented social groups. The same is true with respect to the relatively high death toll from firearms that Americans tolerate, not forgetting the staggering mortality caused by opioid overdoses in the past decade, which has no parallel in any developed country.
Now contrast the American experience of the pandemic with the Chinese. If Americans resemble modern-day Social Darwinists, the People’s Republic is a utilitarian Panopticon worthy of the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s idealized penitentiary of the late-18th century, which relied on prisoners’ uncertainty about whether they were under observation to incentivize good behavior.
No country has more effectively used non-pharmaceutical restrictions on social and economic life to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2 than China. True, these restrictions were widely imitated, as in New Zealand. But the reason they were more effective in China than elsewhere is precisely that the Communist Party’s system of surveillance creates what Bentham called “the sentiment of a sort of invisible omnipresence.”
And yet there turns out to be a catch, in the form of a new and much more infectious variant of the virus. In omicron, Xi Jinping’s Panopticon faces a new and ghastly challenge. Not only does the Chinese population have essentially no natural immunity from previous infections, thanks to the Zero-Covid strategy; the inferior Chinese-made vaccines also offer little protection against omicron. As a consequence, China must impose tighter restrictions than ever before.
Currently, over 20 million people are under some form of lockdown in half a dozen cities, notably Xian and Tianjin, because small numbers of people tested positive. Traditional Lunar New Year celebrations are being restricted. The Beijing Winter Olympics will take place with almost no foreign spectators. The volume of international flights to China has been reduced by more than 90%.
In some ways, China’s reversion to being a closed society is of a piece with Xi’s attempt to revive other aspects of Maoism: his reassertion of the Communist Party’s dominance over the private sector, his call for more egalitarian social outcomes, his intolerance of domestic dissent and ethnic minorities, his readiness to threaten war. But it is not at all clear how any of this helps the Chinese economy grow sufficiently fast to overtake that of the U.S.
By contrast, the American propensity to ignore (or at least honor mainly in the breach) the bureaucracy’s rules and regulations — combined with the opening of the fiscal and monetary floodgates — has meant that paradoxically, the public health disaster of the pandemic has been accompanied by an economic recovery so red-hot that U.S. inflation has jumped to a rate not seen since 1982.
In the eyes of today’s Western public health experts, none of this makes sense. Neil Ferguson gave an interview last year in which he described how he and his fellow scientific advisors to the British government realized that they might be able to copy the Chinese strategy for containing Covid. “People’s sense of what is possible in terms of control changed quite dramatically between January and March ,” he recalled. “They [i.e., the Chinese] claimed to have flattened the curve. I was sceptical at first. … But as the data accrued it became clear it was an effective policy.”
The question was: Could the West copy China’s lockdown? “It’s a communist one-party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought,” said Ferguson. “And then Italy did it. And we realized we could.”
It continues to puzzle me that so many smart people were convinced that the People’s Republic of China should be the role model for a free society faced with a pandemic (as opposed to the East Asian democracies like South Korea and Taiwan that have contained the virus with minimal lockdowns). But that was the road we attempted to go down, inflicting immense economic disruption until we realized that it was unsustainable — that not even Ferguson (or, it turns out, the government he was advising) could adhere to a system of universal house arrest, much less don’t-tread-on-me Americans.
In the U.S. today, Covid has become as much a bureaucratic as a medical condition. Having had omicron in December, I and my family remain subject to a plethora of rules that make absolutely no sense, as we can neither catch nor transmit the virus again so soon after having been infected. I pointlessly wear a mask at meetings and on planes. I pointlessly submit to regular Covid tests. I pointlessly fill out online forms attesting to my children’s health.
Perhaps at some point this year a new variant — Pi, Rho, Sigma, take your pick — will emerge that I can catch and that will give me and others something more than a mild cold. But until that time comes, I shall feel a sense of individualist resentment — that I now realize is very American — about the whole dysfunctional edifice of rules and regulations. When (if?) they are finally swept away, I shall rejoice.
And, if the Chinese Panopticon finally loses control of Chinese virus in this, the third plague year, I’ll recall that, in the history of struggles between rival empires, the fitness that determines survival is seldom correlated with a state’s power over the individual — or its propensity to boast.
Deterring Chinese aggression against Taiwan is realistic and must be the commitment of any U.S. leader who refuses to accept American decline. Americans agree that China poses a serious threat to the United States, but there is disagreement about the ways China poses a problem and to what degree we can and should do something about it.
China’s economic coercion, censorship, theft, and pernicious efforts to make America more like China, or at least make Americans of the view that there is nothing wrong with the Chinese Communist way, are meant to help China exert greater influence over U.S. business, trade, speech, religious expression, travel, medicine, etc. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) snuffing out of liberties in Hong Kong and its domestic repression make perfectly clear what the CCP values and what behavior, speech, and thought they reward and punish.
China’s growing influence over U.S. culture, sports, and big business leaders will not simply fizzle out on its own. Stopping Chinese domination will require determined U.S. leadership. To do what, exactly? To untangle our countries’ financial interdependence, to create significant disincentives for Americans to bend to the CCP’s preferences and demands, to reshore critical manufacturing, to revitalize American education in research and technology, and to reassert U.S. sovereignty and promote and defend the American way of life.
So the astute American who appreciates how badly this country needs highly motivated and sustained political leadership to support a renewal in our civic and democratic institutions will also appreciate that this national renewal necessarily includes competing with and at times confronting China.
China has become much more influential in international institutions such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization, in addition to private companies, because of the size of its economy and the strength of its military. China has been amassing a large, precise, and diverse arsenal of missiles and has practiced using them against mockups of U.S. ships and the bases the United States has in the region. China has also built a Navy bigger than ours. It has invested in cutting-edge space and cyberspace technologies.
As China grows in strength militarily and economically, relative to the United States, it grows in its ability to coerce and pressure the United States and our allies. As China scholar Denny Roy summarized in an essay, China’s hegemonic intent is increasingly hard to deny:
Equally obviously, however, Beijing pressures, corrupts and coerces foreign governments to act in support of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) agenda in various ways, including military intimidation, cutting off trade, bribing foreign officials, grey zone activities, harassment in contravention of professional norms, hostage diplomacy, cyberwarfare and collusion with other outlaw governments. The frequent result is Beijing forcing other governments to abandon their preferred course of action – to ‘suffer what they must.’
This brings us to the question of Taiwan. “Unifying” the vibrant democratic and capitalist Taiwanese island to mainland communist China is the CCP’s highest priority. China has been harassing Taiwan incessantly, trying to intimidate and cause to despair its population of 24 million, who have repeatedly voted to remain autonomous and free.
Reasonable and decent people agree that Communist China’s ongoing assault against Taiwan is unjust, and that China is the aggressor against the democratic island that just wants to be left alone. But the first step for the CCP to establish hegemony over Eurasia is to overturn the status quo and to absorb Taiwan — including by military force if necessary.
Adm. Phil Davidson, in his outgoing congressional testimony as head of the Indo-Pacific Command last spring, estimated that China would invade Taiwan in six years. Analysts now refer to this ominous prediction as the “Davidson Window.”
The debate over whether the United States should be concerned over Taiwan’s fate would be more constructive if people knew that successfully deterring Chinese aggression against Taiwan is technically possible. It is. This is not to suggest the steps necessary to deter Chinese aggression are easy; they are not. But the steps are eminently doable, and defeatism is unwarranted.
But whatever we are going to do to deter Chinese aggression must begin now and be sustained over the next several years and then for the foreseeable future. Presumably Chinese leaders have not attempted to forcibly occupy Taiwan up until this point because they are not confident that the cost would be worth the gain.
The job before the United States is to make sure they continue to draw this conclusion. Broadly, this will require the United States to lead a coalition (the Aussies and Japanese are on board) to credibly convince the Chinese that we would prevent China from getting across the 80 miles of ocean to the Taiwan Strait before it could launch a full-scale invasion.
First, arm and cooperate heavily with our allies. This includes Taiwan, whose officials and public opinion polls repeatedly show have the will to fight off CCP invaders. Taiwanese polling data over the past several years emphatically shows a willingness of the people of Taiwan to fight (almost 80 percent in a recent poll) despite CCP disinformation to convey the opposite.
Importantly, a leading Taiwanese analyst noted: “the more supportive the United States appears, the more confident the people are; when the United States is less supportive, the people then lean toward China.” But they need to spend a lot more money on their defense and they must buy the right kinds of weapon systems necessary to pose an asymmetrical threat. We should insist they do so, privately.
There are other good conversations going on now to collaborate with allies for “capacity building,” for example, stockpiling munitions in and with Japan. But Japan should also buy from the United States and field a long-range strike capability. That’s still politically fraught in Japan, but less than it used to be, as Japan stares down the proverbial barrel of a CCP gun.
Good things are happening without the United States, too, but our steady hand in the region is undoubtedly needed. (Japanese warships have cooperated with Taiwanese warships to get Chinese ships to back off Taiwan.) There is also considerable potential for basing Unmanned Aerial Systems in the nearby Japanese and Philippine islands and Guam with relatively small landing strips. Unmanned Aerial Systems with long-range strike missiles could be formidable against transport ships, for example.
Second, the United States must prepare to withstand and then prevail in a Chinese-initiated missile attack. This means working on defenses to limit the damage of an attack and deploy offensive weapons to respond with formidable combat power. This requires hardening U.S. assets with passive and active defenses.
The good news is we can get started on this now if we do not permit bureaucratic inertia to get in the way. We don’t need more government reports to tell us it would be extremely good to put a robust (not impenetrable!) missile defense architecture that includes the full spectrum of already developed missile defense systems on the U.S. territory Guam.
Guam will be critical for any U.S. effort to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific and to prevent China from dominating it. It also means investing in new technologies like hypersonic weapons and defenses and the attendant sensor and tracking architecture. Some of this good work is underway but it needs to move faster. Our testing programs should also move faster and more obviously demonstrate a real-world ability against a Chinese attack. It also means investing in underwater warfare capabilities — submarines, submarines, submarines.
Third, the United States must revitalize and update our nuclear deterrence so it disabuses a potentially dangerous Chinese misunderstanding that it would be wise to use a low-yield nuclear weapon against U.S. forces. Well-meaning idealists might wish that nuclear weapons and their deterrent impact have no role in contemporary geopolitics. But our adversaries do not share that wish. In 2017, China announced its intention to build a “world-class military by the middle of the century.”
To their mind, this clearly means they want to be on the same level as the United States — and Russia (which has far more theater nuclear weapons than the United States) in nuclear weapons. Estimates are that China will at least double its nuclear warhead stockpile in the next decade.
Because the United States has not invested in theater-range nuclear weapons, China has exploited this. As Dr. Christopher Yeaw, who was the chief scientist of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC)and theDepartment of Energy’s lead official in the development and rollout of the 2018 Trump administration Nuclear Posture Review, has written:
In these wargames, adversary crossing of the nuclear threshold has been deemed by players as quite credible, given the paucity of reciprocal US deterrent capabilities and the minimized collateral damage afforded by such adversarial employment. US players have found response options to be uncomfortably insufficient or even non-credible, largely because of a paucity of sufficient prompt, assured, proportional NSNW capability.
To bolster deterrence in the China context, we should address the paucity and we should be fully modernizing and adapting U.S. nuclear deterrence — not weakening, restricting, or shrinking it.
China has imperialistic ambitions, and it is naïve to insist it is not so. But, like the United States, it also has problems. We should not permit defeatism to reign, thereby surrendering the next century to one where Chinese Communism is the most influential global power.
China’s pandemic-spreading, bullying, coercion, lying, and opacity generally, but especially during the last two years, has seriously harmed its global reputation and galvanized U.S.-led coalitions opposing it. We have ample reason to be encouraged that we can exploit China’s weaknesses while keeping clear eyes to the threat and necessary moves to fight for American preeminence.
The goal for the United States must be to prevent a war with China and to fight for American sovereignty. The goal is to deter aggression that could lead to further escalation. If deterrence fails, we should be prepared to outmaneuver and out-muscle China to cause them to back down.
War is always a tragic outcome — but it is sometimes not the worst outcome. We could simply let the Chinese Communists take democratic Taiwan and the rest of Eurasia while we focus on worthy domestic debates and crises at home; and when we are finished with those domestic fights, we will look up to see that our country is at the mercy of Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communism. It is not a good trade.
We can successfully take on our domestic challenges while deterring CCP domination, and in doing so, preserve and strengthen American security and the American way of life — and we must.