To Catch the Chinese Tiger by the Tail

Jared Whitley, America Needs a Unified Strategy.

When Sir John Glubb wrote his famous Fate of Empires essay in 1976, he surveyed historical trends to identify why great powers collapse and concluded that “internal political hatreds” that “are not reconciled in an attempt to save the nation” are core symptoms of a nation in decline.

Unfortunately, America has not learned these lessons – and we could all pay the price. After all, to follow the trend to its logical conclusion, the only winner of America’s intensifying internal political conflict will be our adversaries, chief among them Beijing.

Few American leaders disagree that we need to maintain our economic, technological, and military advantages over China, and those that disagreed before likely changed their tune after the recent spy balloon fiasco. The good news is that America has taken several recent steps – on semiconductor chips, most notably – to ensure we are able to stay a step ahead of the rising threat coming from the Chinese Communist Party.

However, this alone will not be enough. America must maintain vigilance to keep our status as the leading global superpower, a status quo virtually everyone on the planet – including many in China– want to see maintained. In other words, this high-stakes game of imperial poker demands strategic discipline and unity to neutralize the hegemonic impulses of Beijing.

Unfortunately, some Republicans are falling prey to distractions that turned an important week for China policy – a new bipartisan House committee on China held its first hearing on Tuesday – into a political blame game pitting Democrats against Republicans. Internal rivalries became more acute, making our nation weaker.

Here’s what happened.

A few weeks ago, one news report alleged that a Biden appointee to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council named Dominic Ng – Chairman and CEO of East West Bank – is a foreign agent with ties to the Chinese government. Some Republicans called for an investigation into Mr. Ng as a result of his position on APEC.

These allegations would be distressing – if true. But it appears Mr. Ng’s “ties to the Communist Party” are little more than routine meetings with government officials in a country where his bank does business. While Mr. Ng has served on international bodies promoting American economic interests, he has never had a leadership position in any of the supposedly nefarious organizations in the initial report.

Democrats cried foul. And now, Rep. Judy Chu’s loyalty has also been questioned – leading to accusations of racism, probing questions on Sunday shows, and typical Democrat vs. Republican news coverage distracting from the core geopolitical struggle at hand.

Ask yourself: who wins in this situation? Is it the American people or is it President Xi and the CCP, who are more than happy to watch Americans – led by our own politicians who claim to be “serious” on the China threat – fight amongst themselves?

While Republicans and Democrats play typical politics, accusing each other of disloyalty or racism, Chinese leadership can stay unified in their goal: becoming the world’s superpower.

There are enough real national security threats from China facing our country, so we don’t need to create our own boogeyman. Just right now, we know that China is flying spy balloons over our country, skirting American IP law to try to steal our technology, buzzing Taiwanese airspace, and conducting naval drills with Russia. When we devote oxygen to other, frivolous matters on China, we miss these core developments.

To be clear, Democrats are largely to blame for allowing the CCP’s tentacles into our daily life, but Republicans need to own up to our shortcomings as well. Perhaps – just perhaps – we should not have spent the last 20 years smiling and nodding as corporate America moved its industrial base across the Pacific because it was “good for the economy.” And now, we need to keep our heads in the game if we are going to reverse these wrongs.

In America’s internal political conflict, the only winner will be Beijing. The survival of the nation has become precarious, and political factions must drop their rivalry and stand shoulder-to-shoulder to save our country.

Curbing the threat posed by the Chinese tiger requires strategic clarity and unification of purpose. This recent display is anything but – and we’re playing right into our adversary’s hands.