by Victor Davis Hanson
Last week in Anchorage, Alaska, Chinese diplomats dressed down Biden Administration Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Both seem stunned by the Chinese broadsides.
Apparently, as elite Americans readily confess to inherent white supremacy and racism—highlighting the complaints of BLM and Antifa—the Chinese are happy to agree that such admittedly toxic Americans should not dare to criticize China’s racist policies.
Not since newly elected President John Kennedy was humiliated at the Cold War Vienna summit in June 1961 by USSR strongman Nikita Khrushchev have American diplomats been so roughly manhandled by a Communist government.
China’s defiant provocations are not just verbal. Nor are they aimed only at our high officials.
New York University students, at an overseas satellite Shanghai China campus, were manhandled and jailed by Chinese authorities. Not long ago U.S. diplomats in China were subject to Chinese COVID-19 anal swab testing—supposedly “in error.”
These examples of continued humiliation and harassment could be multiplied. Yet they are simply the current public face of China’s insidious and systematic theft of U.S. patents and copyrights. It brazenly violates trade agreements, as well as manipulates its currency, dumps products below cost on world markets, cyber-assaults, expropriates Western technology, and stonewalls accurate information on the origins of COVID-19.
If China gives out money, it logically believes it owns the recipient. New York University in the last five years has received some $47 million in Communist Chinese-affiliated gifts. So Beijing apparently believes that it now “owns” NYU, and can send any message it likes to its clients.
Stanford University recently was cited by the U.S. Department of Education for failing to report over $64 million from Chinese sources since 2010. No surprise that China, in a demonstration of their contempt, recently sent a visiting researcher to Stanford, who turned out to be connected with the Chinese military.
Hollywood claims that it is woke. But recently it was disclosed that some directors had selected their actors on the basis of skin color. They were obeying China’s requirements for American films to enter the lucrative Chinese film market, slated to become the world’s largest in 2021.
The NBA—both players and coaches—loudly condemns their supposedly racist American homeland. Yet they self-censor any criticism of massive human rights violations by the Chinese communists—given a $5 billion NBA Chinese market.
Lots of countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe have signed up with the Chinese “Belt and Road” initiative to develop ports, harbors, rail, and freeways. They are now rereading the contractual fine print. Chinese multibillion dollar investments do not come without strings. The price of borrowing from China is tough terms of repayment and political subservience.
China is also the world’s greatest and most effective propagandist. Its intelligence services and disinformation efforts make the Cold War effort of the communist Soviet Union seem amateurish in comparison. China’s third of a million students who attend American universities and annual 3 million tourists to the United States soak up and master American popular culture.
As dutiful communist subjects, many are attuned to the self-loathing apparent in American universities, corporations, entertainment, and the media. In reaction, some seek to master and manipulate that sentiment in various ways and to China’s benefit.
China may have destroyed the culture of Tibet, destroyed democracy in Hong Kong, put Muslim minorities in detention camps, and systematically discriminated against African visitors, but the victimizer nonetheless plays the “victim” of American “racism.”
At best, its failed containment of the COVID-19 pandemic was criminally negligent. At worst, it was a hostile act. Yet each time China hears prominent Americans damn the United States as racist, Chinese racists chime in “Amen!”
China welcomes U.S. self-loathing that it interprets as weakness and decadence to be exploited—not as self-reflection to be admired, much less emulated.
In Chinese zero-sum thinking, if elite Americans themselves admit to systemic racism, sexism, and nativism, then they have already done most of the work for Chinese propagandists. China merely recycles such domestic charges to prove that a pathological America has no right to allege others to be racists—as it bullies neighbors with boasts that a dissolute and divided United States is in decline and cannot be counted as a reliable ally.
China is in a race to achieve global hegemony. For a while longer, it seeks sympathetic world opinion—at least until it has achieved unquestioned superior military and economic power.
So for now, China feigns victimhood. And it seeks solidarity with others inside the United States and abroad who claim to be fellow victims of American racism.
Such naked artifice and hypocrisy may seem crazy, given China’s atrocious human rights record. But China views our own exploding budget deficits, staggering national debt, open borders, disingenuous “1619 Project,” the violence of the summer riots, and the epidemic of race-based reeducation workshops as all far crazier—and most welcome supplements to their efforts.
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Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won and The Case for Trump.
Photo “Xi Jinping” by Narendra Modi. CC BY 2.0.