The US-China relationship has reached its lowest point since the Mao era. US hope for a moderate and economically reformed China has faded while China, as it has since the CCP took power, remains ideologically entrenched in communist authoritarianism.
Communist China continues to do what it has done since its founding: obfuscate, threaten, and place the party’s perseverance above all. America, however, is charting into new waters while sailing rudderless with no mission, sense of history, or clear directive.
It is important to know that communists do not believe in truth. Truth is a fabrication of the ruling class. In China, truth, regardless of fact, is dictated by the state. Note the following four scenarios where China says one thing and does the opposite.
1.) China is sending aid to Italy while also waging a disinformation campaign.
2.) China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying said (source) the following during a press conference on March 31st (my emphasis added):
Now so many days have passed, and some in the US still claim China should be held responsible for the COVID-19 in the US. Don’t they feel guilty or ashamed? They are trying to shift the biggest blame of the century to China and make it the biggest scapegoat….
The pandemic is in some way like a magical mirror that exposes a person’s morality and character to the fullest extent. The virus knows no ideology, border or race. The destinies of all countries are closely intertwined. No one can make up for lost time by slandering others or shifting the blame. The only way to defeat the virus is through solidarity and cooperation.
This messaging from the CCP flies in the face of doctors who were silenced and jailed for raising Covid-19 concerns.
3.) China is still moving backwards economically towards more state control. From Rhodium Group and The Asia Society’s China Dashboard detailing Winter 2019 economic reform:
The approach to policy…reveals Chinese leadership looking for modest, piecemeal ways to make some progress, not bold moves. The virus emergency stymies even that minimal activism. In the financial system, the emergency measures rolled out to avoid defaults are making the debt problems worse, and this is true in other areas
Chinese media, however, drones about China creating a fair system for the world.
4.) China, after expelling American journalists, is lamenting about the treatment of Chinese ‘journalists’ (Source):
The political suppression of the Chinese media in the United States by the United States Government has become a stumbling block for the positive interaction between China and the United States. Pride and prejudice are not justice, and bullying will never succeed.
America Asleep at the Wheel
The JCPOA, the Iran Nuclear Deal, was largely criticized for not addressing Iran’s nefarious behavior in the Middle East. The United States under the leadership of Donald Trump was supposed to renegotiate the deal or embrace a ‘no-deal’ that better aligned with American values.
The Phase One Trade Deal with China mimics the JCPOA. Not only does the deal not address China’s nefarious behavior, it represents no American values. It is wishful manufactured trade.
During the ‘trade war’ China didn’t reduce imports of US manufactured goods excluding autos and planes because China has already squeezed out all other American industrial imports. China’s revealed capacity to manage its commodity imports over the course of the trade war suggests that it could meet its 2020 agriculture and energy commitments.
But, as anyone who has spent time in China will tell you, what the China’s state gives, China’s state takes away.
It is important to remember that the Obama administration obtained a cyber security deal and promises to not militarize artificial islands in the South China Sea, and the CCP broke both agreements. Our current agenda with China doesn’t mention human rights (the detention of more than one million Uighurs), violence in the region (militarizing the South China Sea), or the mercantilist trade policies that put the US and China here in the first place. America moved the goal posts from human rights to managed trade in nuts, lobster, chicken feet, and soybeans.
Instead of raising issues that define the country, America’s objectives flow with the current news cycle.
Does America now have wet market conditions to trade? Does this only apply to China?
Why does the President of the United States language on Chairman Xi change when Weibo censors language supporting America? Does this only apply to China?
America, and I can’t stress this enough, through its foreign policy doesn’t stand for anything. There is no such thing as ‘country X policy.’ Policy must fit into a framework that is applicable to a region. Good China policy derives from a good Asia policy. Good Asia policy is derived from American values. ‘America First’ isn’t a value, an ethic applicable to how you treat people you don’t know. It is narcissist and erodes the moral fabric of the USA.
It was the former president of the European Commission who announced in the spring of 2011: “When it becomes serious, you have to lie.” Jean-Claude Junker indicated there was a posttruth approach to public discourse. He was wrong. China has not only murdered Tibetans, Mongolians, Falun Gong practitioners, students in Tienanmen Square, land holders, intelligentsia, and Uighurs, China has erased them from history. China is as China has been since 1949. The United States has retreated from economic fairness, the South China Sea, human rights, and Asia. Instead of exhibiting leadership at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, Trump broke his tweet record. If communists have a disposition towards lying and self-preservation, America is currently disposed to abdicating leadership in Asia.
The United States needs a rudder and backbone.