Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initiated the new U.S.–Sino cold war in the first half of 2020, the U.S. military has recognized the seriousness of the problem. It sped up its armament and issued a series of public reports on the CCP’s military threats.
However, when the U.S. military tried to make up for the lack of national security, it encountered a rising force of China appeasement at home. In order for the United States to win this new cold war, it must first defeat those voices of appeasement.
Appeasement Policies: Past and Present
In this context, the definition of appeasement is to make political and economic concessions toward a totalitarian regime’s expansionist strategy to achieve temporary peace.
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is known for his foreign appeasement policy toward Germany.
In 1938, Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement with Nazi Germany, which ceded the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia to Germany. On Sept. 30, 1938, he returned to London from Munich and triumphantly announced to the public that he had secured “peace for our time.” However, his so-called peace only lasted half a year. Nazi Germany annexed Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and invaded Poland in September 1939. As a result, Britain had to declare war on Germany.
At that time, some British media supported Chamberlain’s appeasement policy. For example, Norman Ebbutt, a journalist for The Times of London stationed in Berlin at the time, warned of Nazi warmongering. But The Times editor suppressed his reports. Also, the results of a 1938 Gallup poll—which showed that 86 percent of the public in Britain believed Adolf Hitler was lying about his future territorial ambitions—were censored at the last minute from the News Chronicle by the publisher, who was loyal to Chamberlain. Furthermore, Chamberlain himself directly manipulated the BBC to flaunt his appeasement policy and forbade the BBC from criticizing Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
British historians later criticized the complete failure of Chamberlain’s Munich Agreement, which prevented Britain from making full preparations for World War II on the European battlefields.
Today, the totalitarian CCP regime is pursuing its goal of world domination and international hegemony and has embarked on a path that threatens world peace. Meanwhile, a new era of China appeasement has emerged in the United States and around the world.
Once the new U.S.–Sino cold war began in 2020, many U.S. politicians, under the influence of political correctness, deliberately turned a blind eye to the fact that the CCP is threatening the United States militarily. And President Joe Biden even toned down the definition of the CCP’s relationship with the United States from a strategic enemy to a “competitor.”
As a matter of fact, many people around the world have interpreted the Trump administration’s tough stance toward the CCP as the cause of this new cold war, while ignoring the fact that it was the CCP’s actions that led to the present situation.
Beijing’s Military Threats and Expansionist Strategy
The CCP proactively launched three military operations against the United States in the first half of 2020.
First, the Chinese regime sent a naval fleet to the U.S. military base on Midway Island to pose military provocations.
Second, the CCP announced that it would control the entire international waters of the South China Sea and use them as a “deep-sea fortress” for strategic nuclear submarines able to launch missiles targeting the United States.
Third, the CCP announced that its Beidou satellite navigation system is fully operational, and it would enable precise targeting of China’s nuclear weapons against the United States.
Now that China is a major power with a large number of nuclear weapons, it was the CCP threats that actually ignited the U.S.–Sino cold war.
In October 2020, the CCP revised its National Defense Law, which justified going to war if China’s “development interests” were affected. Included in this effort would be the launch of a nationwide campaign to mobilize Chinese citizens to participate in the war as much as possible. I explained this revision in detail in my previous article “The Ambivalence of Biden’s China Policy” (printed in the March 31 edition).
In addition, the CCP recently passed the “Maritime Police Law,” declaring that large maritime police ships would be used to enforce the law in waters the CCP considers its territory. This is an act of forcibly taking control of international waters.
These bold moves indicate that the CCP is implementing its foreign expansionist strategy step by step, and its neighboring countries, as well as the United States, which seeks to protect the Indo-Pacific region, are facing increasing threats. Yet, in the face of this international situation, an attitude of appeasement has appeared.
Today’s Appeasement Propaganda
On March 17, the BBC’s Chinese edition published a news analysis titled “U.S.–China Summit in Alaska: Will the Diplomats Succeed in Breaking Ice?”
“There are profound differences between China and the United States on issues such as economics, trade and human rights. Last year, bilateral relations fell to the lowest point in the more than four decades since the establishment of diplomatic relations,” the article stated.
Is the deteriorating relationship between China and the United States caused by economic, trade, and human rights issues alone? China has a totalitarian and autocratic regime, and human rights violations have always been a big issue since the CCP took power. U.S.–China economic and trade issues have existed for more than a decade.
These are not new problems at all. Past U.S. presidents, with the exception of Donald Trump, were all untroubled in the face of such a harsh reality. They simply performed some lip service and maintained a “honeymoon” relationship with China. The real reason U.S.–China relations have fallen to a low point is that the CCP started the new cold war and blatantly threatened U.S. national security. This is the current status of U.S.–Sino relations.
In March, The New York Times published an article in a similar tone with the headline “That Was Fast: Blowups With China and Russia in Biden’s First 60 Days.” The author, David Sanger, has worked for the NY Times for 38 years, focusing on international relations.
Sanger has covered issues related to the White House and national security for a long time. He certainly knows how to find the latest information about the U.S.–China confrontation from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Pentagon websites. However, he completely ignored the repeated warnings of the U.S. military with regard to the CCP’s military threats, saying, “While the Cold War has not resumed—there is little of the nuclear menace of that era, and the current competition is over technology, cyber conflict and influence operations—the scenes playing out now have echoes of the bad old days.”
If the CCP really is only expanding its international influence in terms of technology and cyber conflicts, as Sanger says, why did the regime send its fleet to the U.S. military base on Midway Island in January 2020 and clearly state that its intimidating exercises were meant to “point the sword at Pearl Harbor?” And why did the CCP announce in June 2020 that the Beidou satellite system would enable it to launch a precise attack using nuclear missiles at any location in the United States? Isn’t the threat of nuclear missiles a nuclear menace? The Soviet Union’s nuclear missile threat back in the day didn’t have precise navigation—its nuclear threat to the United States was much smaller than the nuclear threat posed by the CCP today.
One of the reasons the CCP doesn’t fear the United States is that there is a large number of pro-CCP influential figures, similar to the fifth column, inside the Democratic Party’s circle of influence. They try to manipulate U.S. policy toward China, downplay the CCP’s threat to U.S. national security, and shape U.S. policies in a manner that favors the CCP.
This “political correctness” faction has good feelings toward Marxism, the Communist Party, and Mao Zedong. So they naturally dislike any actions that attack or suppress the CCP. Although this faction differs in their goals and motives from the appeasement under Chamberlain in Britain, the effects of their actions are very similar.
The US Military Makes War Preparations
In the face of the CCP’s global expansionism and military threats to the United States, U.S. military leaders have continuously testified in Congress about the need for war preparations and national security in the past several months and issued a series of reports on the CCP’s military threats to the United States and the preparations on the U.S. side.
The U.S. Navy, Department of Defense, and Congress have all released a series of reports as references for policymaking. In addition to the report “The U.S. Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific,” which was formulated in 2018 and publicized at the end of 2020 by the Trump administration, the U.S. Navy also released several reports that are usually inaccessible to the public and foreign countries.
One report, titled “China Naval Modernization: Implications for US Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress,” went through its final revision on Jan. 27. Another was a 10-year navigation plan, the “2021 Chief of Naval Operations NAVPLAN,” released by the U.S. Navy’s chief of naval operations on Jan. 11. The report named China as the biggest threat to the United States and laid out detailed actions the U.S. Navy needs to take in order to compete and win.
There was also a naval research report for the American public titled “Advantage at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power.” Released in December 2020, it focused on the discussion of integrating the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard to “compete with, deter, and if necessary, defeat” the enemy of the United States.
In response to the Navy report, the U.S. Congressional Research Service also issued a report on Jan. 28 titled “U.S.–China Strategic Competition in South and East China Seas: Background and Issues for Congress.” It not only serves as a reference for Congress to discuss defense policies and budgets, but also for the American public to understand the current situation of the U.S.–China maritime confrontation.
Adm. Charles Richard, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, wrote an article published in the February issue of the U.S. Navy’s authoritative magazine Proceedings that called on U.S. military leaders and the federal government to hold China’s aggression in check and face the “real possibility” of nuclear war.
Richard warned that Russia and China have “begun to aggressively challenge international norms” in “ways not seen since the height of the Cold War.”
“These behaviors are destabilizing, and if left unchecked, increase the risk of a great power crisis or conflict,” he wrote.
On Feb. 2, Deputy Secretary of Defense nominee Kathleen Hicks stated during her Senate confirmation hearing, “We must modernize if deterrence is to endure and, if confirmed, I would seek to increase the speed and scale of innovation in our force.”
This hearing discussed the major issue of insufficient naval funding, including the insufficient budget for the Navy’s long-term shipbuilding plan.
This is the first time in the 70-plus years after World War II that the United States has issued military reports so intensively. It’s a clear indication that the situation is pressing. And all these reports point to the CCP’s military buildup as a major threat to the United States.
The Dispute on US Military Spending
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 24, the U.S. military first noted the Chinese military’s threat to the United States in 2018.
The Defense Department decided to turn its focus to “great power competition,” that is, “a major shift in spending and programs to counter China and Russia,” the report said.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is considering allocating funds in accordance with this major shift. For instance, the Navy is pursuing the development of unmanned ships, the Air Force is working on B-52 bomber modernization, and the Marines are getting rid of their tanks and instead developing the ability to operate from western Pacific islands to counter China’s fleet, according to the report.
The current war preparations in the United States are much better than those seen before the Pearl Harbor attack that triggered U.S. participation in World War II, but there are still some similarities: insufficient intelligence and insufficient weaponry. The real problem is an insufficient defense budget.
Under the Obama administration, military spending was greatly reduced, which led to the current problem of an insufficient budget. When the U.S. military urged the White House, Congress, and the public to hurry and prepare for war in response to the growing threat from the CCP—an enemy the United States had neglected for a long time—the current administration and Congress should have actively cooperated.
However, the political correctness faction in power has gone in the opposite direction. Although they can’t deny the fact of the CCP’s military threat, their appeasement policy is reflected in how they assess and approve military budgets.
In recent months, officials from the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as senior generals and retired generals of the Strategic Command, testified before the military committees of both houses of Congress that U.S. military defense is inadequate compared with the CCP’s military buildup because the Obama administration significantly underfunded defense.
However, Biden and some Democrats in Congress reacted passively to the military’s strong appeals. The national defense demand doesn’t seem to fall within the scope of political correctness. The Biden administration is very generous in paying huge amounts of money to illegal immigrants. It’s also resolute and generous in increasing diplomatic expenditures and giving money to some nonprofit organizations so they can feed more Democratic supporters. But the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress plan to cut military spending.
The Navy’s official website reported on March 10 and March 16 that the administration’s first military budget was set to be cut by 2.5 percent from the previous fiscal year. Due to this reduction, the Pentagon had to consider shrinking the scale of the naval fleet. As a result, the United States will face the difficulty of inadequate military resources when trying to fulfill its commitment to safeguard the Indo-Pacific region.
Politico reported on March 3 that the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Phil Davidson, asked the secretary of defense to pressure Congress to approve a nearly $5 billion budget in 2022 to counter China’s buildup in the region, which includes money for new missile defense systems. Davidson’s request received “positive feedback” from top Pentagon leaders, but House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) stated that he is skeptical of major defense spending increases. It’s worth looking at what his motive is.
On the one hand, the CCP has increased military expenditures by 6.8 percent this year; on the other hand, the United States will reduce its military spending by 2.5 percent this year. Doesn’t this reflect an appeasement policy? The political correctness faction wouldn’t dare to criticize the U.S. military explicitly, but in their actions, they are repeating Chamberlainism. For the United States, this is one of the many dangers facing the country.
Cheng Xiaonong is a scholar of China’s politics and economy based in New Jersey. Cheng was a policy researcher and aide to former Chinese Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang. He also served as chief editor of Modern China Studies.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.