The upcoming presidential election will be a watershed moment in American history. The China policy is a major focus and the highlight of President Donald Trump’s campaign platform.
Recently, The New York Times published in its Chinese language outlet an article titled “The Trump Administration’s Strategic Misjudgment of the CCP.” It presents ambiguous arguments on Trump’s China policy that could unintentionally mislead Chinese readers in the international community.
Misconception No. 1: The article stated that the Trump administration’s first misjudgment of contemporary China/Chinese Communist Party policy is that the engagement policy failed, and the United States didn’t change China. The author stated that the failed engagement policy is the key to the Trump administration’s new China policy and gave four reasons.
First, he says that the engagement policy has nurtured generations of people’s basic recognition of universal values such as freedom of speech, equal rights, and the rule of law, and even fostered a small anti-communist force.
Second, in opening up its markets with the West, China has also established preliminary market rules and mechanisms.
Third, after more than 40 years of reform and opening up, Western democratic countries planted the seeds of freedom and democracy that have germinated and grown in the Chinese people, especially among the middle class, including the ruling Party.
Fourth, for a large country such as China, which has a long history of imperial dictatorship, it is unrealistic to expect its social system and regime to go through fundamental change.
These arguments are specious. The failure of the engagement policy is a fact, and even the author admits that “from the current situation, China has not become the free and democratic country that the West expects, and under Xi Jinping, it seems to be farther and farther away from freedom and democracy.”
The core of the failure of the engagement policy is not to say that the policy didn’t bring hope and great changes to the Chinese people, but that the CCP manipulated the engagement policy to strengthen its iron-fisted rule. As a result, the CCP has not only become a bottleneck and shackle for China’s further development, but also the greatest threat to the United States.
At the same time, there’s another aspect of the facts: In terms of the balance of China’s domestic political power, the CCP has reached a time when its ruling power is at its weakest. The Chinese people’s desire, determination, and ability to abandon the CCP have never been so strong and powerful—the historic opportunity to change China has once again appeared.
Therefore, the key to the U.S. policy toward China is to distinguish the CCP from China: to assist the Chinese people in disintegrating the CCP and to rebuild China and help it to return to the international family under the guidance of universal values. This is exactly what the Trump administration is undertaking while it counters the CCP’s infiltration and expansion.
Misconception No. 2: The author claimed that the Trump administration’s second misjudgment was an overestimation of China’s strength, and its threat and challenges to the United States. The author gave three reasons to support his claim.
First, he points to the “puffiness” component of China’s huge size.
Second, he holds that even if the CCP has the strength to challenge the interests of the United States, it lacks the ability to persist.
Third, if China is allowed 10 more years of peaceful development, then perhaps the possibility that its GDP will catch up with the United States can’t be ruled out. But mistakes accumulated over those 10 years could cause great trouble after Xi steps down, and even before Xi’s rule is over.
The author ignored (or deliberately concealed) the reality and madness of the CCP’s challenge to the United States. First, although China’s GDP is only 60 to 70 percent of that of the United States, China and the United States are the only two countries in the world with a GDP that exceeds $10 trillion; and China’s GDP is equivalent to the sum of the four countries that were ranked third to sixth in GDP. Judging from the GDP alone, the CCP is capable of challenging the United States.
This relevant strength has surpassed the economic power comparison between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and the economic power comparison between Japan and the United States in the 1980s.
Second, the CCP isn’t a normal regime, and its policies have always had an irrational aspect, which must be fully recognized. Here is just one example. According to a report published by AidData, a research lab based at College of William & Mary, over the 15 years from 2000 to 2014, the CCP has steered $354.3 billion in grants and loans to countries in Africa and Asia, a figure approaching the $394.6 billion disbursed by the United States over that same time frame.
According to official reports, in 1972, 1973, and 1974, the CCP’s foreign aid expenditures accounted for as much as 6.7 percent, 7.2 percent, and 6.3 percent, respectively, of fiscal expenditures. During the same period, the domestic economy was struggling, and most people were struggling to put food on the table.
Misconception No. 3: The author claimed that the third misjudgment of the Trump administration is that the CCP isn’t an expansionary regime, and that its “wolf warrior” diplomacy is essentially pretending to move ahead in order to hide the intention to retreat.
For this, the author didn’t give a reason but simply a general discussion: The collapse of the Soviet Union and its block placed the CCP on the defensive because it feared becoming the next victim of the Western peaceful evolution, while in the Xi era, the increase in national power has helped to build confidence to counter the Western peaceful evolution and maintain its own interests—that’s the essence of the CCP’s “advancing” foreign policy. That is to extend the boundary of China’s interests and use this boundary to consolidate the rule of the CCP.
This kind of general statement is a totally misleading interpretation of the nature and history of the CCP. In essence, based on the offensive, subversive, and expansive nature of communist ideology, a communist regime is an expansive regime, and history has repeatedly proved that. Out of the ruins of World War I, the Soviet Union came to the world; after World War II, a communist camp was formed. The most significant achievement was the success of the CCP in stealing China. In the Mao era, the CCP wanted to be the leader of the third world, leading the worldwide “rural siege of the city”—surrounding the “city” (in this case, the free world) by taking over the countryside (less developed nations). In the Deng Xiaoping era, the CCP talked about “hiding one’s capacity and biding time” and “making a difference.”
Under Xi, the CCP depends on China’s expanded economic strength, it has talked about the “new type of relations between major powers” and the “community with a shared future for mankind,” while vigorously expanding its armaments, and seeking to provoke war. This is by no means just the “public opinion propaganda bubble.”
Looking at the CCP’s bloody suppression of the Chinese people, is it hard to understand that the CCP is a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
As long as there is a powerful United States in the world, the CCP won’t feel safe. The CCP is a “mature hooligan,” with many disguises and tricks, far more than the Soviet Union and North Korea, and is the most dangerous enemy of the United States and the international community.
Misconception No. 4: The author claimed that the fourth misjudgment of the Trump administration is that it didn’t distinguish between the national China in the geographical sense and communist China in the ideological sense. The author gave two reasons.
First, he said it’s difficult or even impossible to distinguish between the national China and communist China, and that the Trump administration’s attack victimizes the Chinese people.
Second, the approach to target the CCP as a whole, instead of the powerful factions that are harmful to the interests of the United States, is having the majority of ordinary Party members pay for the Party’s rich and powerful. Therefore, it stated, “the harder Washington hits China, the more Chinese people are pushed to the side of the CCP, at least that’s what it is like for now.”
This view is also specious. First, the difference between the CCP and China is real, concrete, and clear, rather than virtual, empty, and vague. In view of the CCP’s “Party-state unity” and the extreme social control, China has almost no independent private companies operating in the Western sense, and it’s difficult for the Chinese people to freely communicate in the international arena without being subject to CCP’s high-tech surveillance and grid management.
Therefore, in the name of national security, the Trump administration’s restrictions on private technology companies and U.S.-listed companies, tightening of visas on Chinese students and visiting scholars, and even sanctions on WeChat are reasonable, necessary, and beneficial.
Second, the CCP is hopeless, and the disintegration of CCP is the only way out. Infighting is an inherent feature of the CCP. No matter which political faction within the Party comes to power, it will be a disaster for China. There is no power group in the CCP that doesn’t harm the interests of the United States, even though factions may differ in their specific policies toward the United States. If the majority of ordinary Party members don’t want to pay the bills for the rich and powerful within the Party, they must take their own decisive step to walk away from the CCP.
In summary, the Trump administration’s strategic judgment on China is on the right path, and there is no “misjudgment.” Trump’s current China policy is precisely “activating the dormant democratic and free forces in China and attracting more Chinese people to join the force.” Trump’s campaign platform shows that in the new term, his China strategy will go even further.
Wang He has a master’s degree in law and history, with a focus on the international communist movement. He was a university lecturer and an executive of a large private company in China. He was imprisoned in China twice for his beliefs. Wang lives in North America now and has published commentaries on China’s current affairs and politics since 2017.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.