By Shoshana Bryen, featuring Claudia Rosett, foreign policy fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum
Let’s start with Hong Kong. No one even mentions it much anymore, but what can you tell us about what’s happened there? Was the Apple Daily raid a turning point?
“The raid was one more in a long line of abuses. China has effectively stripped away the rule of law and the rights and freedoms that it promised to Hong Kong under treaty with Britain in 1984. That’s all gone. Even before the protests of 2019 there were problems, including the kidnapping of Hong Kong book sellers who were offering books the Chinese Communist Party cadres wanted banned. China had been grinding Hong Kong down for some time, but it was the threat of a legal amendment that would have allowed extradition of Hong Kong citizens to China that sparked the huge protests of 2019, which then turned into protests more broadly about the deprivation of liberties.“
We in the United States saw all of this. If you wanted to see it, you could see it. What has the U.S. done to help?
“The U.S. has said a number of things. Laws were passed and penalties levied to try and hold China accountable for Hong Kong. The U.S. stripped Hong Kong of its special trade status and did various other things to express unhappiness.“
“But there was very little backup. For President Biden, the first big moment should have been the first big meeting that Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, had in March, in Alaska, with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, and a high ranking member of the communist party. Blinken and Sullivan began by raising perfectly valid concerns about China – the genocide in Xinjiang, the abuse of Hong Kong, and so on. China bit back ferociously with a torrent of propaganda, accusing the U.S. of being an old, washed up, used up, defunct relic whose time was past, and a dreadful place to be.”
The administration has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Olympic games. , what happens when you get to the Opening ceremony and the U.S. flag isn’t there? Will Xi see that as an affront to himself and to China?
“To go to the Olympics, to do anything that helps China’s celebration of itself as hosting the Olympics, is a bad idea. They should never have been awarded the Olympics in the first place and these winter games should have been taken away when evidence came out of genocide in Xinjiang. They should have been taken away with what happened in Hong Kong, with China’s disappearance of its outspoken star tennis player Peng Shuai, with any of the tell-tale horrors that provide a window on Xi’s communist rule.”
“China’s propaganda endlessly proclaims that China is ascendant, the rising power, the model of development, the way of the future, and then denounces America. They’re doing it in spades right now. The idea is to have a milestone and say, “China has now hosted both the summer Olympics (in 2008) and now the winter Olympics. China is the power at the center of the 21st century universe.”
“And the US Olympic Committee is still planning that our athletes will go and compete. We should be out of there entirely. Everything and anyone we send to underwrite or compete in those Olympics dignifies them. These are not the Olympics that you grew up with, unless you lived through the 1930s and saw the Nazi Olympics in Berlin.”
In 1936, we didn’t know the full extent of what was coming next. In this case, we know much more much earlier.
“These will be a very strange Olympics in any case. China is not allowing foreign spectators, only Chinese mainlanders. So, this is Xi Jinping’s party, he controls the scene. We shouldn’t be there.”
“Of course, it is the decision of the US Olympic Committee, but President Biden and his team have a lot of clout. They have the bully pulpit. Even at this late date, I’d like to see the Biden administration pressuring the International Olympic Committee to move the Olympics from Beijing.”
“They delayed them a year in Japan over the virus. There’s a far stronger case for the IOC to say, “We find brutal repression at least as repugnant and dangerous as the virus that came out of Wuhan. We’re going to move these Olympics, or at least delay them till the day China has a government worthy of hosting them.”
Would an economic alliance – something like the TPP that includes the United States and our Asian allies – make the Chinese nervous and thereby be good for us?
“Yes. Something, anything, that basically gathers up friends of the United States and says, “We’re going to have a framework for cooperating, and China is not part of it.” But behind it you need military muscle to enforce anything you set up diplomatically. The rise of a totalitarian, malign China has gone beyond the point where diplomatic deals and trade deals alone are likely to make the changes we seek.“
“We need deterrence, which means a military well beyond what the Biden administration is funding and building. In addition, the “woke” drumbeat in the military is alarming. It is not the job of the military to be “woke.” Their job is to deter and, if necessary, win wars. Not fussing about eco-fuels and uniforms.”
Could there be a revolution against the Chinese government?
“There’s tremendous unhappiness inside China. You see protests every so often. For instance, there was a big protest in Wuhan, in the summer of 2019 just few months before the virus emerged. They were protesting the installation of huge waste incinerators. But China’s authorities have brutal ways of shutting these down. The Tiananmen slaughter of 1989 is the standout example, but the repression carries on, in so many ways, off camera. China’s communist rulers do not scruple to kill, imprison, brutalize, and silence people in order to block any hint of dissent. Will there be a rebellion deposing communist party? Don’t bank on that.. There are people writing thrillers these days that posit a coup in China. I’m not so hopeful.“
“China’s communist regime is preparing for war, and pursuing a course ever more likely to ignite it. Terrible to consider, but that looks a lot more likely right now than a revolution inside China that could succeed in overthrowing 72 years of communist tyranny — though I do believe many of China’s people privately desire greater freedom.“
“If we get leadership in America that approaches China the way that Reagan approached the Soviet Union, there is a chance that you could bring down the communist party of China. But it would take determination, backbone, and perseverance by the United States.”
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