China’s Friends in America Rally to Its Saber-Rattling

Beijing’s government owned and operated media launched an array of military threats in the days leading up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan that if carried out would have triggered a regional war, perhaps even World War III. Militant emotions were drummed up on Chinese social media with any dissent censored. This saber-rattling rallied so-called “peace” groups in the U.S. to China’s cause. Nothing energizes the radical Left like the chance to back a foreign enemy in its attacks on America. They may have lost the First Cold War, but they intend to do better this time.

State media outlet China Daily ran a photo to show a "typical response by the American people" to Pelosi’s Congressional delegation trip to Taiwan. It was of a demonstration outside Pelosi’s office in San Francisco. Protest signs read “Peace: No New Cold War on China,” “U.S. Hands Off Taiwan” and “China is One.” These all reflected Beijing’s propaganda. There was no sentiment for peace, only a desire that the Communist regime get its way. The activists were identified as belonging to Pivot to Peace, the ANSWER Coalition, CODE PINK, and “leaders of the Chinese community in San Francisco.”

Pivot to Peace was founded in reaction to the 2011 Pivot to Asia policy of the Obama administration which sought to refocus U.S. efforts from the Middle East to meet the rise of China. It’s mission statement reads “We are concerned Americans from all walks of life who have come together in opposition to the dramatically increasing drive toward confrontation between the United States and China. We have witnessed a profoundly disturbing reorientation of US military and foreign policy that identifies China as a competitor and adversary.” The U.S. reaction to Beijing’s expanded territorial claims, that run from the East China Sea to the border with India and which are backed by a rapid military buildup including long-range missiles and warships, is said to be what is provoking tensions. This is the old theory of appeasement that blames war not on aggression but on resistance to aggression. It takes two to fight, so our side should just sit it out and let China take what it wants. “We believe that friendship and engagement between our countries is the better path towards that future” says PTP, if we avoid “fear mongering and the revival of old racist stereotypes and Cold War political bugbears.” The key to this is to recognize that Taiwan is “a mere province China.”

ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) was founded just three days after the 9/11 attack to protest military retaliation against al-Qaida. It has since embraced every other enemy of the U.S. It has been calling for the abolition of NATO, echoing Putin’s line that NATO is the threat to peace and he was only acting defensively when he invaded Ukraine. Beijing’s imperialist grab for Taiwan backed by threats of war is, however, embraced by ANSWER. It also supports Iran’s violent ambitions and alignments with Moscow and Beijing.

CODE PINK “Women for Peace” is the most hate-filled “antiwar” group imaginable. Apart from its “China is not our Enemy” campaign, it calls for ending sanctions on Communist Cuba and Venezuela but placing sanctions on Saudi Arabia because CODE PINK favors Iran, whose sanctions should be lifted. It of course opposes Israel, while supporting the Syrian regime backed by Iran. It claims to have started the “No to NATO” campaign and only wants peace in Ukraine on Putin’s terms. It claims “NATO caused the war by expanding to Russia’s borders” without understanding that this “expansion” was by countries which had escaped Russian imperialism under the Warsaw Pact. They were seeking a collective defense of their independence against Putin’s proclaimed revanchist policies. CODE PINK opposes sending any more weapons to Kyiv or to anyone else, but especially not to Taiwan.

CODE PINK doesn’t just focus on the claim “Taiwan is part of China.” Its pro-Beijing campaign includes a call to demilitarize Guam and Hawaii! CODE PINK goes beyond supporting Beijing’s ambitions in Asia. It also endorses Chinese expansion into Latin America and Africa with its Belt and Road Initiative.

It is tempting to dismiss these radical groups as nothing more than shrill voices from the fever swamp that no one really listens to. But that would be a mistake. Their constant din and media stunts, not to mention their political lobbying and influence in academic circles, have often moved their ideas into the liberal mainstream and affected policy. The China Daily article that featured the photo of the protest at Pelosi’s office was actually devoted to an interview given to Beijing’s state media by economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development/ Earth Institute at Columbia University. A renowned and prolific globalist, the New York Times has called him “probably the most important economist in the world.” 

Globalists argued after the Cold War that rapid growth in China would tame the Communist regime and lead to democracy. This has not happened -- Beijing turned industrial strength into military power. But whom do the globalists blame? Sachs blames the U.S. In his interview he asserts "The US government is trying to maintain US primacy in all regions of the world, but it lacks the effective means to do this. It should be aiming for cooperation rather than primacy." He also denounced NATO enlargement and argued, "America's aggressive policy towards China is similarly destabilizing and not in the real US interest. The US should be aiming for cooperation with China and peaceful relations with Russia." And he attacked Pelosi for championing Taiwan’s independence saying, "She is foolish in making these statements.” After all, Sachs has argued that China is leading the world in development, so he can’t turn on Beijing now.

Nowhere in these protests is there any regard for what the Taiwanese people think or want. Polls consistently show over 80% favor the status quo, which is de facto independence from Beijing with only around 2% favoring unification with China. I’ve been to Taiwan several times. The people there are proud and successful, and do not consider themselves in any way to be part of One China. The fact is that the island has only been ruled from Beijing for four out of the last 127 years (1945-49). From 1895-1945 Taiwan was part of the Japanese empire. The island then became the last refuge of the Nationalist government in 1949 after the Communists won the civil war. There are warmer feelings towards Tokyo than Beijing. Japan has invested heavily in the island in ways China never has. And I’ve never been anywhere that was more pro-American.

If Beijing believes America will not back Taiwan, that dissent at home will cripple its defenses in Asia, then China will be emboldened to launch a war of conquest. Peace has always been the U.S. position as it maintains a status quo beneficial to freedom and progress. But in a dangerous world, peace is upheld only by deterrence. Aggressors must know that war is not a viable option because they will pay a fearful price for failure. Thus, their interests are best served by peace as well. Pelosi’s trip strengthened deterrence, which is why Beijing’s reaction was loud, but did not cross the line. Ironically, it is the agitation of “peace” groups that increases the risk of war, though given their rhetoric, it seems it is war they want if China can win it.

 William R. Hawkins is a former economics professor who served on the professional staff of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. He has written widely on international economics and national security issues for both professional and popular publications.

Image: Public Domain

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