90 Miles From Tyranny : How China Finally ‘Woke’ America

Friday, October 4, 2019

How China Finally ‘Woke’ America


By: Victor Davis Hanson
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, both by Democratic and Republican administrations, was logically flawed at best. And at worst, these calculations were a weird mix of conservative commercial greed, liberal political correctness, and shared screwball naivete.

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.

Why did America act in such a suicidal way on China?

Cheap Chinese labor and lax American laws motivated hundreds of U.S. corporations to shut down their domestic assembly plants and relocate to China. At least at first, they were free to pay substandard wages and were mostly unregulated.

Once American businesses got hooked on mega-profits, the Chinese government slowly started stealing their technology, infringing on copyrights and patents, dumping their own merchandise on the world market at prices below production costs, running up huge trade surpluses and manipulating their currency.

But by then, American corporations were so addicted to laissez-faire profit-making that they turned a blind eye and paid their hush money.

Universities cashed in too, both by setting up lucrative satellite campuses in China and admitting tens of thousands of Chinese citizens. These Chinese students paid full tuition (and sometimes premiums and surcharges), turning once cash-strapped campuses into profitable degree mills.

Most college deans and presidents simply ignored the dreadful human rights record of China, not to mention occasional expatriate espionage rings designed to steal engineering and...

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