By J. D. Heyes
The administration of President Richard Nixon sought to â€˜normalizeâ€™ relations with China in the early 1970s in large part to use the Asian giant as a bulwark against our superpower rival, the Soviet Union.
It made sense since China and the USSR had recently fought a vicious border war (1969) and though both were communist nations, they did not trust or like each other.Â
Over the next few decades, the U.S. sought to integrate China into the West as a means of cracking open its vast market; a billion people is a tempting economic magnet. But also, it was hoped that by strengthening China economically, that would mitigate the authoritarian leadership of the Communist Party and even lead to its demise as the Chinese people embraced capitalism and the freedom it embodies.
By all accounts, U.S. policy objectives did not bear fruit.
â€œThe United States made a gamble that as China became more and more involved on the global stage, it would open up domestically and become a constructive stakeholder in the â€¦ international system. Itâ€™s pretty clear that gamble hasnâ€™t paid off in the way we hoped it would,â€ said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing on Chinaâ€™s rise May 8.
For years, subsequent U.S. administrations ignored not just Chinaâ€™s rise but the manner in which it was rising: Grossly unfair trading arrangements with the U.S., Chinaâ€™s largest (by far) export market.
Donald Trump promised to fix this massive trade imbalance during his 2016 campaign and heâ€™s certainly giving it his best effort, having implemented a tariff regime aimed at forcing Beijingâ€™s ruling Communist Party to accept better trade terms with Washington.
However,Â according to a report this week from SinoInsider, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may be about to unveil an economic â€œPearl Harborâ€ attack on the U.S. in order to not simply save their own economy but also to remain in power.
According to the analysis website, itâ€™s possible due to a confluence of events allegedly occurring inside China now, the CCP may decide that â€œunrestricted warfareâ€ strategies to include potential military action as well may be â€˜necessaryâ€™ in order to perpetuate party leadership:
â€” China is currently being pressured by a deteriorating economy and rising social unrest around the country;
â€” As the Trump administrationâ€™s tariff regime continues and, perhaps, grows (POTUS threatened to expand tariffs to even more Chinese goodsÂ after the upcoming G-20 meeting), the CCP could begin to get more desperate.
â€” The Chinese may seek to disrupt American financial markets (even as POTUS Trumpâ€™s policies and the GOP tax cut have led to record growth). This could come as soon as this month as new 25-percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods take effect.
â€” â€œThe CCP could seek to influence and interfere in U.S. politics and society,â€ the report noted. No doubt this would take the form of Russian interference in the 2016 election (few people doubt that Moscow attempted to interfere; itâ€™s just that the Trump campaign wasnâ€™t in on it).
â€” The CCP may â€œfind ways to influence politicians in both major parties to disrupt governance or Trumpâ€™s policies.â€ For example, the party could seek to have the presidentâ€™s tariff authority restricted, though there doesnâ€™t seem to be a congressional majority inÂ bothÂ chambers of Congress for that to happen over a presidential veto.
There are other potential disruptions as well, SinoInsider reports, including increased Chinese influence in Europe and Asia through its “Belt and Road Initiative” to fracture American alliances and weaken Washingtonâ€™s position around the world â€” though Chinaâ€™s money only goes so far because it comes with CCP authoritarianism.
At the same time, the Trump administration has been working to counteract Chinese moves. For example, the administration has been strengthening historic ties throughout the Indo-Pacific with ASEAN allies like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and even Vietnam and the Philippines. The effort includes forging closer ties with India.
Also, the Pentagon has remained active in the South China Sea, stepping up “Freedom of Navigation” patrols via the U.S. Navy — patrols that increasingly include allied navies as well such as Britain, Australia, and Japan.
The Chinese economyÂ could be in a similar positionÂ as the U.S. economy in 2007-08, the report warns: Dangerously overextended and on the verge of collapse. That would have negative global economic implications, just like our collapse did.
But unlike the U.S., the CCP fears such an economic calamity could cause it to lose its grip on power, which is already driving Beijing to consider extreme measures in order to retain control at home, the report adds.
“Based on our research into the CCP, we believe that the Party and the regime cannot long withstand the perfect storm of political turmoil, economic crisis, food shortages, social unrest, and intense U.S. pressure. With its survival at stake, the CCP will not resign itself to fate and will instead do whatever it can, by all means fair and foul, to stay alive,” it notes.
A version of this story first appeared at NewsTarget.
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