by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In these times of near civil war, Americans agree on almost nothing. Yet sometime in 2019, almost all of America finally got “woke” on China.
For years, our leaders had yawned about Silk Road neo-imperialism in Africa and Asia, and gross abuses of human rights against Chinese religious minorities and political dissidents.
Almost every assumption Washington made, by both Democratic and Republican administrations, was logically flawed at best. At worst, these calculations were a weird mix of conservative commercial greed, liberal political correctness, and shared screwball naïveté.
American trade and political appeasement were never interpreted by Beijing as magnanimity to be reciprocated, but always as weakness to be exploited. It was always ludicrous to think that the more concessions on trade and human rights the United States gave, the more China would Westernize and begin to resemble America or an EU nation.
Even sillier was the old shibboleth that China’s embrace of capitalist reforms — as if by some unwritten, determinist economic law — would lead to constitutional government. But the ability to buy a new cellphone never ensures the right to vote for a candidate of one’s choice.
Instead, all China did was auction off large sections of its new and more efficient economy to crony Communist pseudo-capitalists and corrupt provincial officials in order to modernize the country, beef up the military, warp the international trading system — and make itself very rich.