Carina Benton writes for the Federalist about the sad outcome of Australia’s deference to the communist Chinese government.

When Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called last year for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, China retaliated with tariffs. Domestically, a cohort of Beijing-friendly former ambassadors, foreign and defense ministers, and state premiers dutifully reminded the public that China’s status as Australia’s biggest trading partner makes antagonizing the regime a risky business.

Beijing sycophants have recycled versions of this talking point for years, rationalizing China’s contempt for Western universal values, territorial aggrandizement, repression of religious minorities, and political persecution at home and abroad. Behind the scenes, many of these policymakers have been cultivated by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials and proxies via campaign donations, quid pro quos, travel junkets, and lucrative post-political career gigs, to believe they’re serving Australia’s national interests when in reality they’re allowing Beijing to pull the strings. This use of China’s soft power is not at all limited to Australia.

Now a compromised political elite is responding to a virus likely juiced up in a Chinese bioweapons lab by adopting in lockstep scientifically unprecedented, CCP-style social control measures. Their subservience and self-interest have finally caught up with the people, who are hostages in an ideological war between democracy and the new totalitarianism.

While the West deludes itself that the Cold War has been over since 1991, for the CCP, it never ended. Determined to reshape the international order in its image, China has deployed its vast economic wealth to subvert, coerce, and cajole policymakers and spread its tendrils of influence throughout the world.

U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray explains that China’s highly sophisticated and covert foreign influence involves targeting individuals close to an official, then leveraging that co-opted middleman to “whisper in the official’s ear” and help sway policy. Often these intermediaries are unaware they’re being used as CCP pawns.