Slipup or Wakeup? American Strategy on China
With noticeable disappointment and discontentment toward U.S. policy, China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said during an event in Washington, D.C., that the “recent trend indicates that Americans have a lack of cognizance about China and some misguided strategic judgements.”
More specifically, Cui believed that “some people seemed frustrated about the path on which China insists on walking.”
In the opinion of this author, there were indeed some slipups in strategic decision-making on the communist state in the past decades, but right now, the United States is in fact on a route to awakening!
Last year, I had a chance to chat with Stanley Kao, a representative of Taiwan to the United States, and learned that it had been extremely difficult for Taiwanese diplomats to function in America because of pressures from the Chinese regime. Ambassador Kao could not even meet officially with the State Department officials and had to resort to all kinds of smart and unique maneuvers to make contact.
Even though there seems to be no misunderstanding on the intention and positions between the two governments of the United States and Taiwan, there are many misconceptions and misapprehensions between American and Chinese officials, even though the latter had no problems getting in touch with their American counterparts.
As the top diplomat of communist China in the United States and in the wake of dramatic changes in Sino-U.S. relations, Cui is not that much off track with regard to his observations and feelings.
When the Chinese regime felt that Americans were misunderstanding them, why could it not be the case that they were misunderstanding the true intention and new policies toward China on the American side? Could it be that the U.S. government had some misguided perceptions about China in the past, and now they have come to realize the true reality and therefore have changed their policies?
Those new policy changes could very well be “misguided” in the eyes of the Chinese regime, while in fact that is exactly the way it should be.
Cui sensed that some felt frustrated for the path that China is walking on. It is true that many people inside and outside China feel deeply frustrated about the devious path that China has been on since 1949.
Those who have felt the most frustrated are not Americans, but the Chinese themselves, including the 95 percent of the people in China who are not part of the elite of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). If that were not the case, the regime would not need to spend more than their military budget on internal supression to “maintain stability.”
Had the Chinese people not felt frustrated about the path their country is rolling on, and if they were proud of and content with the path, then it would not be necessary for the regime to install surveillance cameras everywhere, to censor the internet and media, and to require registration to buy kitchen knives,. If the people of China knew that they were walking on a righteous path with confidence, the regime would not need to self-proclaim and boast “confidence in China’s system and path” all the time.
The American people are indeed feeling frustrated about the fact that China is still a communist state in the 21st century, and one can sense the frustration in government, academic, and educational circles. This kind of frustration is actually the same as when the world witnesses the starvation of North Koreans while their leader insists on their communist path and develops missiles and nuclear weapons at all costs.
America has been very benevolent to China and the Chinese people and has given China generous support many times, including the latest economics and trade with China since its “openness and reform” in 1978. Yet even with American support for decades and with an abundance of technology, management skills, and investments pouring into China, the world has yet to see a China that is prosperous and free, but instead sees one that is anti-America, pro-Russia, and against universal human rights.
Cui argues that China’s path is based on its own characteristics and that the development of China cannot be changed and should not be changed. This is very erroneous. The path the CCP forced upon the Chinese nation was not based on China’s own characteristics, but on following orders from Moscow.
People worldwide, including members of the Party itself, have abandoned the guiding ideology of Marxism and Leninism that the CCP adopted. What the current social system portrays is not in the best interests of the people, but in the best interests of the CCP elite, the top 500 families in the elite.
The sole purpose of the system is to preserve the status quo of the Party. As to whether the future course of China should be changed and how should it be changed, it is not up to the CCP to answer. The people of China have already made the decision as they work to fight against the CCP and quit the CCP en masse.
It is the hope of Chinese communist cadre Cui that “those feeling frustrated would face reality and let go of their impractical dreams.”
People in China who have a clear and conscious understanding of the CCP may feel depressed when facing reality, yet they will not give up hope. Otherwise, members of the regime would not feel so uncertain about losing their power or have sleepless nights all the time, even though they have armed police, nukes, tanks, and war planes at their disposal.
The American people and government may feel deeply frustrated as well for a China that is still not free, but luckily, the American public has awakened. Even more fortunately, they have a new president who is making changes, improving the economy, restoring morality, and adjusting its stance on China.
Cui threatened, “If China insists on its path, there is bound to be conflict between the two countries.”
That is to say, the regime will not give up its communist ideals and will be on a collision course with the rest of the world. When this communist diplomat says that China intends to build a “community of universal human destiny,” does that ring a bell with anyone? It sounds like a planned comeback of the international communist movement!
The West first made a breakthrough in realizing the sheer evil nature of Chinese communists in 1989 when the Tiananmen Square massacre took place. Ten years later, in 1999, the world witnessed on a moral scale the atrocity of the communist state when the CCP started persecuting the spiritual discipline Falun Gong (Falun Dafa).
In another ten years, after the 2008 financial crisis, the world observed the avariciousness and greed of the Chinese communists. The regime made many under-the-table deals with governments of Western countries and used market access in exchange for the West’s hushing up China’s human rights violations.
Over the years, the people of the West lost both their confidence and their investments in China, and they have just now started to realize it is high time for awakening and confronting the regime.
Joseph Nye of Harvard proposed the concept of “soft power” in the 1980s to denote the capability of a state to persuade without using force. Apparently, soft power is something the Chinese regime is eager to possess when it spends millions on the now-notorious Confucius Institutes everywhere.
Both China and Russia found themselves weak and bleak in their soft power, embodied in things ranging from movies and literature to lifestyles and morals. When the CCP realizes it lacks the hard power in military might and soft power in cultural affinity, the only power they can possess is “sharp power”: using money to buy political influence, which is sharp enough to cause damage, but not lethal enough to destroy their enemies.
It is the use of “sharp power” that made the new alliance of China and Russia catch the attention of the West, and now that free world is getting ready to deal with the new evil axis, or “evil triangle,” of communist China, Russia, and Iran.
Great Britain was the first to refuse to endorse the “Belt and Road” initiative of China, and Prime Minister May sides with Trump in warning against Beijing on the future of trade. Susan Thornton, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, asserted that America is a Pacific power and will not accept China’s attempt to replace America in Asia and threaten other countries in the region.
As to real slipups or misjudgment, there might have been four or five times when America did that toward China. The first was in 1949, when the United States reached out to communist China and almost deserted Taiwan.
The second and third times were during the Korean and Vietnam wars, when America failed to realize that it was China that was behind both wars! The West underestimated the communists’ willingness to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of young Chinese by subjecting them to American firepower.
The fourth time was during the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, when America again erroneously underestimated the viciousness of the CCP and forgot the bloodshed in Tiananmen Square too soon.
The fifth and latest misjudgment was when the U.S. government failed to respond with resolve to the persecution of Falun Gong that began in 1999 and the organ harvesting that the CCP regime has carried out against the spiritual group.
America is a country built on religious freedom, and it fights against persecution. While the persecution of a righteous faith is ongoing today, American politicians and strategists have yet to respond swiftly and resolutely.
Will the Trump administration correct the misjudgment and respond decisively now? The world is watching attentively.
Dr. Frank Tian Xie is John M. Olin Palmetto Chair Professor in Business and Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of South Carolina Aiken, in Aiken, South Carolina, USA