“The Donald’s great on this issue. He actually sent me a note saying he loved the book,” Brett Decker, author of Bowing to Beijing: How Barack Obama Is Hastening America’s Decline and Ushering a Century of Chinese Domination, remarks at the Heritage Foundation on July 20, 2012.
Donald Trump likes to talk about Communist China. Consider what he had to say at the massive speech in Mobile, Alabama, on August 21, 2015:
And when I hear devaluation of the Chinese currency – you know the word, the sucking action. That’s a sucking like the vacuum cleaner. I hear the sucking action. Two things happen. Two things get sucked out of us. Our jobs and our money. Now, think of it. China sells us our product, takes our jobs, takes our base, does our manufacturing for us, and we owe them $1.4 trillion. That’s like a magic act. I call it the magic act in reverse. We owe them money.
Despite what the Left may think, Trump is not just shooting off his mouth when it comes to China. He speaks from personal experience, and his thinking is being influenced by two of the greatest and most experienced minds in all things China. They are Brett Decker and William Triplett II, the authors of Bowing to Beijing: How Barack Obama Is Hastening America’s Decline and Ushering a Century of Chinese Domination (2011).
Both of these men have long careers as China watchers, Brett Decker as a Hong Kong-based journalist before becoming editorial page editor of the unfailingly hawkish, anti-communist Washington Times and William Triplett as part of the staff of the Congressional Investigative team that blew wide open the Chinagate campaign finance scandal, where millions of dollars from Chinese Military Intelligence were funneled to Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns, and Chinese agents were subsequently appointed to sensitive security agencies, where they stole many of our top military secrets – especially in regard to missile technology. (See his classic co-authored books Year of the Rat: How Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash and Red Dragon Rising: Communist China’s Military Threat to America.)
Consider some examples from the Bowing to Beijing:
* While policymakers delude themselves about common interests and cooperation, year by year the U.S. economy is becoming more enslaved to China.
* Every day, we borrow money from the Middle Kingdom so we can buy their merchandise and keep Chinese people working while U.S. unemployment hovers around 9 percent.
* At the center of the PRC’s trade strategy are machinations to keep their currency undervalued, which makes the price of their exports cheaper in relation to products from nations with stronger currencies. Washington’s sale of so much U.S. debt to Beijing unwittingly strengthens this communist ploy. “Because of their undervalued currency (and large trade surplus), abundant U.S. dollars are officially overpriced in China,” Jonathan Rothwell, a research analyst at the Brookings Institution, explains. “Chinese banks take deposits from exporters in dollars, convert them to yuan, lend them out, and get artificially high returns by virtue of the enhanced buying power of yuan.”
By the statistics, it certainly looks that way:
In fact, in 2010 alone, we imported $365 billion worth of products from the PRC. Since 1985, we have paid more than a whopping $3 trillion for Chinese imports. In 2010, the trade imbalance with Beijing was $273 billion in the communists’ favor. Over the 26-year period between 1985 and 2010, America’s trade imbalance with Red China was $2.4 trillion.
Looking at these facts, Decker and Triplett see the problem as one of morality and freedom:
The big question about our multi-trillion dollar engagement with China is whether it’s achieving the original goal of establishing a trustworthy alliance and helping to build a better society for the Chinese people trapped behind the Bamboo Curtain. Across the board, on every meaningful indicator, the answer is no. By every measure, as we make China richer, it is becoming correspondingly less free.
Trump sees the problem in another way:
So you know we have free trade. The problem with free trade is when you have free trade, very important, you need competent leaders. That’s the one problem with free trade. I like free trade. I’m a free trader. The problem is you need great negotiators, great leaders. We don’t have that.
They may be right, but we could be treading dangerous waters. It isn’t so much the cheap stuff that we must worry about, but the consequences of price shocks. What will the damage to our economy – which is inseparable from our security and our influence – be? Whom will we be helping with diminished ability to project power and influence? (Does the 1970s ring a bell?)
Also, there is more to the Chinese economy than trade. China’s not as stable as they project themselves to be. By looking only at that one sector, we may be missing other signs that the threat of being taken over by the Chinese economy is not likely. Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, writes that Chinese dictator Xi Jinping “has been unable to make any progress on the ambitious package of economic reforms he proposed at the party’s Third Plenum in 2013,” adding:
The purpose of the reform package was to enable China to address problems of rising inequality and corruption and to become an innovative “knowledge economy” able to compete in the global marketplace. Unlike earlier reforms, such as Deng Xiaoping’s decollectivization of agriculture and Hu Jintao’s reform of social security, the kinds of reforms that are needed today—ending state monopolies in critical sectors, for example, or giving the judiciary more independence—would encounter stiff resistance from deeply entrenched interest groups and local party cadres that want to preserve their privileges in the present system.
But there are other things to worry about beyond economics. As noted by Decker and Triplett:
“China’s big goal in the 21st century is to become world number one, the top power,” wrote PLA [People’s Liberation Army] Senior Colonel Lin Ming Fu, a professor at China’s National Defense University, in his 2010 book The China Dream. According to Liu, confrontation with the United States is inevitable in the “competition to be the leading country, a conflict over who rises and falls to dominate the world.”
This is not just some marginal military officer with too much time on his hands. The China Dream is a constant refrain of China’s current Dictator Xi Jinping. And they are projecting their power as we speak, as Decker and Triplett point out:
While China watchers continue to debate the reasons for Beijing’s aggressive posture in the South China Sea, the PRC may have let the cat out of the bag. An article in People’s Daily, the PRC daily rag, reported that Li Yongwu, president of the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association, reveal China depends on imported oil for 55 percent of its consumption needs – a higher rate even than the United States – and by 2030 it may have to import a staggering 70 percent.
Carly Fiorina has spoken about this:
China has moved aggressively into the South China Sea, building islands in the middle of the ocean so that they can build military bases on top of these islands. This is a gateway that moves $5 trillion worth of trade every year. China cannot be permitted to control this gateway. … We must push back against rising Chinese aggression. We should work with Vietnam and the Philippines to improve their surveillance capabilities to deter the Chinese. We should conduct military exercises with our Filipino friends. We must tell China—if you declare an Air Defense Identification Zone over the South China Sea, we will not recognize it. We will not comply.
But what about Trump? Does he agree with Decker, Triplett, and his Republican primary opponent that steps must be taken to stop this?
There are cracks in the bamboo curtain. Carl Gershman points out that, thanks to social media, issues of standards of living are harder to hide, unions are able to organize and coordinate with each other, and strikes are able to be maintained. Fiorina has again been on top of this, stating that the Reds “engage in draconian Internet censorship. As Reagan once tore down a physical wall, we must tear down these cyber-barriers to the free exchange of information.” Does Trump agree?
Additionally, and importantly, part of Decker and Triplett’s book is the section dealing with China’s “Agents of Influence.” These are the people China has bought off and who go around preaching the virtues of the Chinese government and lobbying for policies favorable to the Reds. These include Democrats and Republicans at every level of government, as well as business leaders. Trump, fortunately, does not need their money and is, therefore, unlikely to sell out. Being on top of his game, he will be weary of those under China’s influence who might try to fool him.
It is a relief to know that a potential president has such good taste in geopolitical literature. Hopefully, other great works of geopolitical analysis – such as Amir Taheri’s The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution, Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky’s The Corporation: Russia and the KGB in the Age of President Putin, Ion Mihai Pacepa’s Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism, Samuel Katz’s Battleground: Fact & Fantasy in Palestine, and Tuvia Tenenbom’s book about anti-Israel propaganda and NGOs – will also interest Mr. Trump.