The Wall Street Journal published a piece today by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe says that as the person with the most access to U.S. intelligence after the president, the one thing he would like the American people to know is that China is the greatest threat to America and to democracy in today’s world:
If I could communicate one thing to the American people from this unique vantage point, it is that the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom world-wide since World War II.
The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically. Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party…
Take Sinovel. In 2018 a federal jury found the Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer guilty of stealing trade secrets from American Superconductor. Penalties were imposed but the damage was done. The theft resulted in the U.S. company losing more than $1 billion in shareholder value and cutting 700 jobs. Today Sinovel sells wind turbines world-wide as if it built a legitimate business through ingenuity and hard work rather than theft.
Without naming names, Ratcliffe suggests a thought experiment in which a Chinese owned firm employing American workers tells those workers that unless an elected representative changes their stance on a certain topic (one not connected to the business in any way) everyone could soon be out of a job. Those workers then apply pressure to the elected representative to get them to change their view. Ratcliffe says these kind of influence operations directed by China are happening. In fact he says China has carried them out six times as often as Russia. Ratcliffe concludes:
The world is being presented a choice between two wholly incompatible ideologies. China’s leaders seek to subordinate the rights of the individual to the will of the Communist Party. They exert government control over companies and subvert the privacy and freedom of their citizens with an authoritarian surveillance state.
We shouldn’t assume that Beijing’s efforts to drag the world back into the dark will fail just because the forces of good have triumphed before in modern times. China believes that a global order without it at the top is a historical aberration. It aims to change that and reverse the spread of liberty around the world…
This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower. The intelligence is clear. Our response must be as well.
There’s plenty of evidence that China is in a belligerent, expansionist mood if you look around. China is running a system of re-education camps, really prisons, for ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. It is paying U.S. academics to deliver their expertise to Chinese universities. It is trying to claim territory from India and has effectively ended independence in Hong Kong. It is expanding its military presence in the South China Sea and is threatening the independence of Taiwan. Its academics are promoting the statist views of a Nazi jurist to justify these actions. It is blocking an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic while also using it for PR purposes internationally. China is even reaching to the moon. And while all of this happens, the western media is often missing the point or failing to connect the dots as Ratcliffe has done.
China is a threat to freedom and human rights not just within its own borders but around the globe. There’s a WSJ video clip that’s worth a watch. It’s based on something a promoter of democracy in Hong Kong was once told by his father: “You can never, ever trust the communists.”