Progressives Have to Recognize the CCP Threat

October 5, 2021 Updated: October 6, 2021


The Progressive wing of the Democratic Party has had much to say about the ills of U.S. society and what must be accomplished to address them, but rather less about China’s behavior under its rulers, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

They do not identify the CCP for what it is, the world’s largest anti-progressive force, a corrupting influence in global politics, and the one power that can prevent progressives from achieving their aims in international politics.

The CCP’s attitude to its own citizens and to the world’s population is defined by exploitation of people and the environment. In contrast to what progressivism seek, the Chinese regime’s treatment of ethnic and religious groups, women, and sexual minorities is atrocious with no prospects of improvement.

The rise of the Chinese regime is a threat to progressivism due to the possibility that it can supplant the United States. Progressivism must recognize the harsh reality of international politics. If the United States loses its position, progressivism loses. Progressives must embrace the recognition that the United States has had flaws, has corrected many of them through the Civil Rights Movement, and is laboring as it has done since 1964 to achieve racial equality.

Were the United States to lose its dominant position, it would lose the ability to advance the principles, values, and norms that progressives favor in global politics, including the ability to influence allies, international organizations, and even foes to adopt its principles and adhere to them.

Progressives must acknowledge that the People’s Republic of China has made no changes to its treatment of its minorities or women, or cultural attitudes to Africans and other darker-complexioned people. The idea that the CCP would permit China to go through a civil rights movement is absurd. It is so, fundamentally, because the CCP possesses a radically different ideology that is anathema to progressives and liberals alike.

The Chinese regime’s ideology includes the deeply rooted racialized worldview of racism and virulent nationalism that informs China’s domestic and foreign policies, as well as the manner in which the regime treats its population. This is particularly the case for the minority ethnic groups in the country, notably the Tibetans, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Uyghur Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, those who advocate for human rights, including religious freedom and other human rights, and those who challenge the regime because they recognize the CCP is illegitimate. In essence, how the CCP sees the world is heavily informed by racism, race-based prejudices and biases, and eugenicist beliefs.

Xinjiang vocational skills education center
A perimeter fence is constructed around what is officially known as a “vocational skills education center” in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uyghur region, China, on Sept. 4, 2018. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

If China supplants the United States, progressives lose. The rest of the world is going to have to adapt to China’s ideology, and the norms and principles it advances. All of the stakeholders in the present international liberal order created by the United States and United Kingdom in the wake of World War II are likely to find it more difficult to advance fundamental Western conceptions of human rights and political principles. This is true whether they are liberal conceptions of free trade, individual liberty, human rights, or if they are progressive ones. In this possible future, progressives will face far greater difficulty advancing their norms and principles, including the importance of developing cultures of anti-discrimination and anti-racism in support of the rights of women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ communities.

Western universities have been a safe space for progressives, allow their ideas to be nurtured and spread throughout the society. At the same time, the influence of the Chinese regime is extensive within many Western universities. The University of Cambridge’s announcement of guidelines and training to maintain academic freedom and national security for their faculty and students, who are working with countries that do not share the UK’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law, is a case in point. In September, Cambridge was embarrassed by the relationship between senior members of a business research institute, the Cambridge Centre for Chinese Management, and Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Cambridge is far from alone. Many Western universities have built relationships with the Chinese regime and have profited from those exchanges, while China has gained greater knowledge and influence in Western higher education. This expansion of influence by a non-progressive, racist Chinese regime has gone unremarked by progressives. The result is curious: In universities, progressives are aligned with the least progressive state in international politics. Chinese money and the prospect of more is certainly part of the answer of why this is so. Equally, progressives want to ignore the racism and widespread human rights abuses of the Chinese regime as they are devoted to transforming U.S. politics and society. Unfortunately, this silence makes them an ally of the CCP. Third, some progressives might support the Chinese regime’s attempts to weaken U.S. power. However, if progressives achieve what they wish and U.S. power atrophies, then the CCP does become dominant. At this point, they will find that they just made the world safe for racism, sexism, and a series of bad ideas that the world has not witnessed for over a half-century.

Illuminating the Chinese regime’s human rights violations is necessary to improve the regime’s human rights record, to understand what will be lost if the CCP wins, and to redouble efforts to prevent that from happening. On this issue, those who believe in liberalism as well as progressivism should be united. The United States is locked in an ideological struggle with the Chinese regime. The political freedoms and future offered by the West are infinitely superior to what the Chinese regime presents now and in the future.

The CCP’s money and influence, and progressivism’s own contradictions have kept progressives quiet about the regime’s abuses. The hypocrisy of progressives must end. Their actions are facilitating the rise of a racist superpower. One that, if not stopped, will employ its power to defeat the aims of progressive ideology.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Bradley A. Thayer is a founding member of the Committee on Present Danger China and is the co-author of "How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics."