by Curtis Ellis
Former Vice President Joe Biden and other critics of President Trump’s China policy say the president should not have imposed tariffs unilaterally. Instead of “going it alone,” the armchair generals opine, we should be “working with allies” to confront the People Republic’s systemic cheating.
The record shows that those saying this are either profoundly ignorant of how the real world operates or are outright lying.
Airbus is Exhibit A. The world’s second-largest aerospace company, a state-owned enterprise spawned by the governments of precisely the European allies some imagine would be eager to join us in taking on China, just paid a $3.9 billion fine for winning aircraft sales contracts by bribing government officials in China.
In addition, Airbus admitted to violating laws controlling the export of sensitive U.S. defense technology.
This is on top of long-running government subsidies that enable Airbus to underbid its competitors, namely Boeing. This practice is blatantly illegal under international rules, so much so that the United States has been given the go-ahead to impose $7.5 billion in retaliatory tariffs on a range of imports from our European allies.
With allies like these who needs enemies? If we waited for them to join us in defending ourselves against China’s predations, we’d all be dead before the cavalry came.
Airbus’ behavior, unfortunately, is closer to the rule rather than the exception when it comes to how our allies behave in the real world as opposed to the think-tank world of make-believe.
Take for example our old ally (also our oldest enemy), Great Britain.
Despite Washington’s explicit warnings and objections, the United Kingdom announced it would allow Huawei, the espionage arm of the Chinese Communist Party masquerading as a telecom company, to build Britain’s 5G internet infrastructure. Such a move ensures Beijing’s spies will be watching everything that moves over that network, which is everything.
While it shouldn’t be too much to ask that a true ally unequivocally stand up to Beijing in this instance of our mutual security, sadly that’s not how the UK saw it.
This raises the question of whether or how much did Huawei bribe Whitehall decision-makers to “persuade” them to award a critical contract to the sworn enemy of Western democracy, the same government crushing freedom in Hong Kong. But since London would sell out the subjects of its former colony why should we expect it to show any loyalty to the rest of the free world.
Loyalty, it seems, goes to the highest bidder.
Another one of our European allies, Germany, is dithering over whether or not to invite the China cuckoo into the nest. Beijing is threatening German automakers with retaliation if Berlin doesn’t play ball with Huawei as London did.
Threats are the other side of the bribery coin, and we see Airbus is not the only outfit playing that game.
Beijing routinely uses quid and a heavy hand around the world to extract pro-China quo. The bank accounts of corrupt officials in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Kenya have received generous infusions of cash to smooth the way for Chinese companies to build ports, airfields, railroads, and other facilities in Beijing’s global influence and geostrategic expansion operation.
A timely example: Beijing built a $200 million headquarters for Africa’s Centers for Disease Control in Ethiopia. That country happens to be the native land of the current head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He repaid the favor by delaying a global health emergency declaration over the coronavirus and, after visiting Beijing, recommending against travel bans. His recommendation was widely—and wisely—ignored.
China tries to use this trick of leveraging investment for influence in our country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned governors to beware of trade officials from China bearing gifts. Beijing threatened to cancel Chinese investment in Mississippi if former governor Phil Bryant traveled to Taiwan. (Bryant went anyway.)
We’ve seen how China uses even supposedly “clean” business deals as bribes to extort favors from private companies. Ask the National Basketball Association.
And there’s always Mike Bloomberg. Just as he bought the DNC, the billionaire former mayor of New York City been bought by the CCP. Bloomberg famously tells us Chinese Communist Party general secretary and president-for-life Xi Jinping—the man commanding the system that silences doctors sounding the alarm over a deadly infectious disease—is not a dictator.
Bloomberg is the flesh and blood incarnation of Wall Street, and Wall Street is expert at the China bribery scam. J.P. Morgan paid a $264 million fine for hiring the “princelings” of communist China.
“J.P. Morgan engaged in a systematic bribery scheme by hiring children of government officials and other favored referrals who were typically unqualified for the positions,” Andrew Ceresney, the director of the SEC’s enforcement division said. J.P. Morgan did it “because the business rewards and new deals were deemed too lucrative.”
“Hiring well-connected people for financial jobs has been common in China,” the Financial Times reports. Paging Hunter Biden.
So when you hear Joe Biden or any other candidate, Wall Street analyst, or talking head say President Trump “should work with our allies” to take on China, you can be sure that person doesn’t know what he is talking about. Or he is being paid not to know.
– – –
Curtis Ellis is policy director with America First Policies. He was also a senior policy advisor with the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign in 2016.