China: Trump Chooses the Harder but Wiser Path

Many experts are panicking about Trump's economic punishments against China.  They fear an economic downturn, a global depression, or even the worst case of open war.  For the libertarians, it's depriving entrepreneurs of the world's largest market.  For so-called realist and globalist foreign policy experts, it is irrational nationalism that unnecessarily endangers global prosperity and is best dealt with by trying to integrate China into the international system.  These cries of panic are crescendoing now that tariffs are coming into effect, CFIUS is being expanded, and Trump is increasing security controls throughout the economy.

Now these pro-China critics are trying to actively undermine President Trump in the name of globalism and alleged free trade.  However, the rarely told reality is that President Trump is merely launching the first retaliation in a trade war that China has been waging for several decades.  Trump is choosing the difficult correct course of action, which will cause pain to the United States in the short term so that the United States can thrive in the long term. 

Most people involved in policy, finance, and diplomacy care only about immediate gain and often blindly ignore long-term consequences.  Instant gratification in the form of quarterly profits, diplomatic summits, or jumps in stock price by embracing China is the easy choice.  In the case of dealing with China, it is also the wrong choice.  These decisions often come at the cost of long-term economic competitiveness or strategic advantage.  China and its American sympathizers need to be confronted and shown why being pro-China is detrimental to the United States; the public needs to see what China and its lobbyists are doing to the United States.  Leading this charge here in the U.S. on behalf of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American academia at large.

Here I must disclose a fact: I loathe the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, so I have a bias.  No group is more short-term in thought, ambition, or desire.  Only immediate gratification of instant profit, even at the cost of long-term financial stability, is the rallying cry of the modern U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  As long as they get their quarterly earnings, America be damned, or at least that's how I see them.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is actively lobbying and campaigning to weaken President Trump's position – launching media campaigns, appealing to gullible libertarian organizations, or appealing to compassion to guilt people into dropping their guard against the PRC. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its corporatist allies constantly hem and haw about accessing China's domestic markets to stay viable. They rationalize that cheap PRC products are benefiting American consumers, that the PRC supports entrepreneurs and investors, and how PRC technological contributions make life so much easier.  Besides painting a rosy picture, these globalists also claim that defying the PRC could cause this regime to crash markets, destroy American farmers, or stop world economic growth if the United States dares antagonize the "Rising Dragon."  Even if true, although doubtful, not too sure how much people want a paranoid totalitarian state having such life-and-death power over the world economy anyway.

American academics are just as bad.  Many universities and professors are begging for more student and professorial visas to conduct joint research.  The PRC offers academics funds or too good to be true Chinese scientists to support research breakthroughs.  Since most academics believe that their grandiose intellects can save the world, the PRC convinces them that working with China can help create globalist utopia.  Academics believe that the more knowledge is widely shared, the more the world benefits from their genius.

So among corporatists, free-trade libertarians, and academics decrying confrontation with China, exactly how extensive are the negative effects in dealing with the PRC for President Trump to justify rocking the globalist boat?

Being pro-PRC is the wrong choice because unlike the United States, it pursues a consistent foreign policy of dominating the Earth by mid-century at the cost of American power.  To that end, the PRC wages a brilliant public relations campaign that gives its economic mercantilism a veneer of peaceful cooperation in spreading global prosperity.  Meanwhile, the Chinese are quietly using many instruments to slowly strengthen the PRC at the cost of weakening the West.  Let us start with an easy example: economic espionage and technology theft. 

The PRC for a long time needed Western technology to catch up because its totalitarian system drained domestic innovation for decades, and it had to slowly rebuild since the 1990s.  The PRC openly boasts about its five-year plans to jump the technological and economic hurdles they want to overcome and they achieve them.  How?  Why, they cheat.  How many readers have heard of the Thousand Talents Program?  Recently, the U.S. government has disclosed some of the activities of the program in unclassified briefings.  The PRC, through proxies, sponsors a talent recruitment program that supposedly supports potential startups and entrepreneurs with seed money, financial support, or investing in research ventures.  This organization at the same time is accused of encouraging "entrepreneurs" to steal ideas, technology, and American prototypes and send them to China.  With PRC government backing, such programs can outbid any local investment capital firm or company, as the PRC state assists in effectively bribing Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) talent to become employees of Chinese State Owned Enterprises.  This has been going on for years, but the U.S. government just stood by and took the thefts in stride.

China has been attacking the West from all angles by both legitimate and illegitimate means ranging from its mergers and acquisitions to unfair business arrangements that guarantee theft to political lobbying and manipulation.  Unlike the Russia collusion stuff, there is demonstrable proof of corrupt PRC activities both in the United States and its allies.  Other examples include the Confucius Institutes, who try to influence academia to be more friendly to the Winnie the Pooh-afflicted regime, or having the PRC use economic blackmail to deter the USA from defending its interests.  Numerous examples can be provided on China being both a competitor and outright rival on the world stage, yet organizations will use every excuse, including the race card, to stop the U.S. from hindering China's rise through exploiting our country's hard work and fairness.  For those who need further convincing, just look at what the PRC says about itself with the "Made in 2025" Plan or their new National Security Law.  

More examples could be cited, which brings me to my final point.  Do readers truly believe that all that is publicly reported makes for the only PRC violations that the U.S. government knows about?  How many acts of espionage, provocation, and manipulation are cited in classified reporting?  Certainly enough to get a politically divided Congress to support President Trump!  Not for one moment should anyone believe that these companies, universities, or policy institutions haven't known for years what the PRC is doing.  Nor should anyone believe that Congress and the politicians know of only PRC activities cited in the public domain.  No, the classified world often shows how dark and Hobbesian the real world is without the false narratives of the press.  True, it is not perfectly accurate, but it's far more accurate than the pundits would like to admit because it often contradicts popular perceptions.

Fighting China on the economic front is the right hard choice.  It is hard because it will have costs as we reduce our vulnerabilities to China, but at least it drastically increases the likelihood that future American generations will still have a competitive nation to inherit.  This outcome is more unlikely if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their ilk's easy choice of caving to the PRC is chosen.  These are people who decry America's defense while helping China: to censor its citizens; sell out American workers' future by letting the PRC access and steal all their proprietary data; or cut out American workers altogether and employ PRC slave labor to keep all the wealth generated in the hands of corporatist executives.

The easy but wrong choice is being pushed by scoundrels who more likely than not know all about the PRC's sins but don't care out of sheer greed.  By all means inquire for yourselves, but I trust Trump and his word on this issue far more than all the globalist CEOs' proclamations combined, and what President Trump is doing is the right but difficult choice.

Aaron Hirschi served in the U.S. Army and formerly worked in the Pentagon.  He now works in a non-descript Federal building somewhere in Washington, D.C.

Many experts are panicking about Trump's economic punishments against China.  They fear an economic downturn, a global depression, or even the worst case of open war.  For the libertarians, it's depriving entrepreneurs of the world's largest market.  For so-called realist and globalist foreign policy experts, it is irrational nationalism that unnecessarily endangers global prosperity and is best dealt with by trying to integrate China into the international system.  These cries of panic are crescendoing now that tariffs are coming into effect, CFIUS is being expanded, and Trump is increasing security controls throughout the economy.

Now these pro-China critics are trying to actively undermine President Trump in the name of globalism and alleged free trade.  However, the rarely told reality is that President Trump is merely launching the first retaliation in a trade war that China has been waging for several decades.  Trump is choosing the difficult correct course of action, which will cause pain to the United States in the short term so that the United States can thrive in the long term. 

Most people involved in policy, finance, and diplomacy care only about immediate gain and often blindly ignore long-term consequences.  Instant gratification in the form of quarterly profits, diplomatic summits, or jumps in stock price by embracing China is the easy choice.  In the case of dealing with China, it is also the wrong choice.  These decisions often come at the cost of long-term economic competitiveness or strategic advantage.  China and its American sympathizers need to be confronted and shown why being pro-China is detrimental to the United States; the public needs to see what China and its lobbyists are doing to the United States.  Leading this charge here in the U.S. on behalf of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American academia at large.

Here I must disclose a fact: I loathe the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, so I have a bias.  No group is more short-term in thought, ambition, or desire.  Only immediate gratification of instant profit, even at the cost of long-term financial stability, is the rallying cry of the modern U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  As long as they get their quarterly earnings, America be damned, or at least that's how I see them.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is actively lobbying and campaigning to weaken President Trump's position – launching media campaigns, appealing to gullible libertarian organizations, or appealing to compassion to guilt people into dropping their guard against the PRC. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its corporatist allies constantly hem and haw about accessing China's domestic markets to stay viable. They rationalize that cheap PRC products are benefiting American consumers, that the PRC supports entrepreneurs and investors, and how PRC technological contributions make life so much easier.  Besides painting a rosy picture, these globalists also claim that defying the PRC could cause this regime to crash markets, destroy American farmers, or stop world economic growth if the United States dares antagonize the "Rising Dragon."  Even if true, although doubtful, not too sure how much people want a paranoid totalitarian state having such life-and-death power over the world economy anyway.

American academics are just as bad.  Many universities and professors are begging for more student and professorial visas to conduct joint research.  The PRC offers academics funds or too good to be true Chinese scientists to support research breakthroughs.  Since most academics believe that their grandiose intellects can save the world, the PRC convinces them that working with China can help create globalist utopia.  Academics believe that the more knowledge is widely shared, the more the world benefits from their genius.

So among corporatists, free-trade libertarians, and academics decrying confrontation with China, exactly how extensive are the negative effects in dealing with the PRC for President Trump to justify rocking the globalist boat?

Being pro-PRC is the wrong choice because unlike the United States, it pursues a consistent foreign policy of dominating the Earth by mid-century at the cost of American power.  To that end, the PRC wages a brilliant public relations campaign that gives its economic mercantilism a veneer of peaceful cooperation in spreading global prosperity.  Meanwhile, the Chinese are quietly using many instruments to slowly strengthen the PRC at the cost of weakening the West.  Let us start with an easy example: economic espionage and technology theft. 

The PRC for a long time needed Western technology to catch up because its totalitarian system drained domestic innovation for decades, and it had to slowly rebuild since the 1990s.  The PRC openly boasts about its five-year plans to jump the technological and economic hurdles they want to overcome and they achieve them.  How?  Why, they cheat.  How many readers have heard of the Thousand Talents Program?  Recently, the U.S. government has disclosed some of the activities of the program in unclassified briefings.  The PRC, through proxies, sponsors a talent recruitment program that supposedly supports potential startups and entrepreneurs with seed money, financial support, or investing in research ventures.  This organization at the same time is accused of encouraging "entrepreneurs" to steal ideas, technology, and American prototypes and send them to China.  With PRC government backing, such programs can outbid any local investment capital firm or company, as the PRC state assists in effectively bribing Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) talent to become employees of Chinese State Owned Enterprises.  This has been going on for years, but the U.S. government just stood by and took the thefts in stride.

China has been attacking the West from all angles by both legitimate and illegitimate means ranging from its mergers and acquisitions to unfair business arrangements that guarantee theft to political lobbying and manipulation.  Unlike the Russia collusion stuff, there is demonstrable proof of corrupt PRC activities both in the United States and its allies.  Other examples include the Confucius Institutes, who try to influence academia to be more friendly to the Winnie the Pooh-afflicted regime, or having the PRC use economic blackmail to deter the USA from defending its interests.  Numerous examples can be provided on China being both a competitor and outright rival on the world stage, yet organizations will use every excuse, including the race card, to stop the U.S. from hindering China's rise through exploiting our country's hard work and fairness.  For those who need further convincing, just look at what the PRC says about itself with the "Made in 2025" Plan or their new National Security Law.  

More examples could be cited, which brings me to my final point.  Do readers truly believe that all that is publicly reported makes for the only PRC violations that the U.S. government knows about?  How many acts of espionage, provocation, and manipulation are cited in classified reporting?  Certainly enough to get a politically divided Congress to support President Trump!  Not for one moment should anyone believe that these companies, universities, or policy institutions haven't known for years what the PRC is doing.  Nor should anyone believe that Congress and the politicians know of only PRC activities cited in the public domain.  No, the classified world often shows how dark and Hobbesian the real world is without the false narratives of the press.  True, it is not perfectly accurate, but it's far more accurate than the pundits would like to admit because it often contradicts popular perceptions.

Fighting China on the economic front is the right hard choice.  It is hard because it will have costs as we reduce our vulnerabilities to China, but at least it drastically increases the likelihood that future American generations will still have a competitive nation to inherit.  This outcome is more unlikely if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their ilk's easy choice of caving to the PRC is chosen.  These are people who decry America's defense while helping China: to censor its citizens; sell out American workers' future by letting the PRC access and steal all their proprietary data; or cut out American workers altogether and employ PRC slave labor to keep all the wealth generated in the hands of corporatist executives.

The easy but wrong choice is being pushed by scoundrels who more likely than not know all about the PRC's sins but don't care out of sheer greed.  By all means inquire for yourselves, but I trust Trump and his word on this issue far more than all the globalist CEOs' proclamations combined, and what President Trump is doing is the right but difficult choice.

Aaron Hirschi served in the U.S. Army and formerly worked in the Pentagon.  He now works in a non-descript Federal building somewhere in Washington, D.C.