TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On July 3, the Washington Post published an op-ed entitled “China is not an enemy” addressed to the White House and Congress, which was endorsed by 100 signatories representing the best and brightest of the United States’ pro-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligentsia.
The article, authored by five individuals who clearly should never have been in positions of authority capable of influencing U.S. foreign policy, serves as an apologist's reminder of how the corporatist and coastal elites of the United States cherish their privileged relationship with the Chinese government.
In the future, op-ed letters like “China is not an enemy” will likely be regarded for their ironic value in the same way that Neville Chamberlain’s 1938 “Peace in our time” address is viewed today.
The letter is authored by former diplomats J. Stapleton Roy, a former U.S. ambassador to China during the years 1991-1995, and Susan A. Thornton, the previous Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, appointed under the Obama administration. Additional authors are M. Taylor Fravel, an MIT professor, and Michael D. Swaine, both experts in the academic fields of China Security Studies, along with a Harvard Emeritus professor Ezra Vogel, a prolific scholar and specialist in East Asian history.
Of the five authors, three of them, Roy, Thornton, and Fraval, are members of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, an NGO and advisory group representing Henry Kissinger’s “Friends of China” approach to dealing with Beijing via consistent policies of economic appeasement.
And if there is one word that sums up the general attitude of the entire letter it is certainly “appeasement.”
The letter, despite its list of distinguished authors and signatories, is a cowardly argument from the conflict averse, those who would forsake moral obligation to do the right thing in an effort to salvage the benefits of a financially lucrative, but crumbling, status-quo.
The letter outlines seven items which are absurdly referred to as “propositions,” but are realistically just seven areas of the Trump administration’s foreign policy towards China which make these authors uncomfortable.
In truth, the article proposes little more than general support for China’s meaningful “participation” in global affairs, increasing the role of “international organizations” to work with the Chinese leadership, and the implicit notion that the Trump administration just can’t understand China as well as these specialists and experts ever could.
It strikes me as concerning that a letter entitled “China is not an enemy" opens with the line “Although we are very troubled by Beijing’s recent behavior, which requires a strong response,” then proceeds to list seven individual items which each concede that China's government is in fact a danger to peace, global security, and U.S. interests.
Reading such a letter, one wonders how cowed, mischievous, or willfully ignorant a child would have to be to write a letter to their school’s principal about a neighborhood bully, outlining all the ways in which the bully has abused students and threatens to do worse, only to then argue that discipline and confrontation is not the answer?
Whatever the motivations of these authors and signatories may be, they all agree on the following items.
1. China has made a “turn toward greater domestic repression, increased state control over private firms, failure to live up to several of its trade commitments.”
2. China’s “rapid economic and military growth has led Beijing toward a more assertive international role.”
3. “U.S. opposition will not prevent the continued expansion of the Chinese economy, a greater global market share for Chinese companies and an increase in China’s role in world affairs.”
4. China has a “government intent on limiting the information and opportunities available to its own citizens and harshly repressing its ethnic minorities.”
5. “China has set a goal of becoming a world-class military by mid-century….Beijing’s growing military capabilities have already eroded the United States’ long-standing military preeminence in the Western Pacific.”
6. “Beijing is seeking to weaken the role of Western democratic norms within the global order.”
7. “A successful U.S. approach to China… must be based on a realistic appraisal of Chinese perceptions, interests, goals and behavior.”
So let’s recap. China’s rise won’t be stopped. China is a threat to democratic social norms. Beijing consistently represses its own citizens and has already begun a process of actively undermining U.S. interests, partnerships, and its military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
But the response of the United States should be what again? Appeasement?
“Just keep playing nice. Keep buying Chinese products. Keep investing. Keep that sweet, sweet Renminbi flowing into the coffers.”
That’s what I hear.
Those of us who don’t shy away from history books or remove certain problematic pages have quite a "realistic appraisal of Chinese perceptions, interests, goals and behavior.” Indeed, the United States and international community have already been fooled once by post-Cold War optimism that Beijing's conduct and character would improve. It would be a shame if they fooled us all twice.
It appears to me that the authors and signatories of this Washington Post op-ed are the ones which have lost sight of the historically evidenced character of the CCP, along with their clearly stated “goals” and “interests.”
It is these conflict averse individuals, with their scholarly knack for obscurantism, who would shy away from injustice and tyranny for the right price.
It is worth noticing that the imperialist “goals” of the CCP, articulated as they are by autocratic leader Xi Jinping, receive absolutely zero mention in this letter. And this at a time when the potential consequences of ignoring the CCP’s “blood and soil" ideology grow more disturbing with each passing year.
Of course, when the goal is appeasement, making powerful friends, and greasing the tracks of a global corporatist agenda, it wouldn't be expedient to discuss Beijing's frightening pursuit of a technocratic dictatorship and 360 degree surveillance system that will serve as a prototype for aspiring authoritarian governments of the future.
It doesn’t serve such a cause to draw attention to the concentration camps and the forced re-education of Uyghur people in Xinjiang, or to the policies of forced intermarriage, and population replacement to outbreed native peoples in East Turkestan and Tibet.
It wouldn’t help their argument to mention the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong, a city of 7 million people, that is so wracked by fear and anger about a potential future stripped of liberty and self-determination, that the city is teetering on the brink of chaos.
And such a plaintive cry for China’s “meaningful participation” in international affairs, certainly wouldn’t want to include mention of how the CCP is responsible for excluding the genuinely democratic country of Taiwan, a civil, prosperous society of 23 million people, from such a respectable international system of cooperation and mutual benefit.
The fact that the CCP has consistently threatened to attack, invade, and destroy any semblance of a democratic society in Taiwan, probably would not help the argument these authors are trying to make to the people of the United States and their government in Washington.
Because if citizens of the United States were familiar with the real character, goals, and interests of the Chinese government, they might just be motivated to stand on principle and give that “strong response” these authors seem so keen to avoid.
When it comes to addressing long-simmering conflicts, and in this case, putting a long-time neighborhood bully on notice, it seems to me that the Trump administration’s “strong response” has been both appropriate and effective.
The authors of the Washington Post op-ed, and all of the signatories listed below, might want to remember that the United States has a fairly long tradition of standing up to bullies. Appeasement and shying away from injustice is not what Americans are typically known for.
All that aside, there is one point the authors get right.
China is not an enemy, agreed.
But for millions of people who believe in genuine representative government and the cause of liberty, the Chinese Communist Party most certainly is.
Given that the authors are all highly distinguished diplomats and scholars, maybe in their next letter calling for appeasement they can remember to differentiate the two.
●James Acton, co-director, Nuclear Policy Program and Jessica T. Mathews Chair, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
●Craig Allen, former U.S. ambassador to Brunei from 2014–2018
●Andrew Bacevich, co-founder, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
●Jeffrey A. Bader, former senior director for East Asia on National Security Council 2009-2011 and fellow, Brookings Institution
●C. Fred Bergsten, senior fellow and director emeritus, Peterson Institute for International Economics
●Jan Berris, vice president, National Committee on United States-China Relations
●Dennis J. Blasko, former U.S. Army Attaché to China, 1992-1996
●Pieter Bottelier, visiting scholar, School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University
●Ian Bremmer, president, Eurasia Group
●Richard Bush, Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies, Brookings Institution
●Jerome A. Cohen, faculty director, US-Asia Law Institute, New York University
●Warren I. Cohen, distinguished university professor emeritus, University of Maryland
●Bernard Cole, former U.S. Navy captain
●James F. Collins, U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation 1997-2001
●Gerald L Curtis, Burgess Professor Emeritus, Columbia University
●Toby Dalton, co-director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
●Robert Daly, director, Kissinger Institute on China and the U.S., Wilson Center
●Michael C. Desch, Packey J. Dee Professor of International Affairs and director of the Notre Dame International Security Center
●Mac Destler, professor emeritus, University of Maryland School of Public Policy
●Bruce Dickson, professor of political science and international affairs, George Washington University
●David Dollar, senior fellow, Brookings Institution
●Peter Dutton, senior fellow, U.S.-Asia Law Institute; adjunct professor, New York University School of Law
●Robert Einhorn, senior fellow, Brookings Institution; former assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, 1999-2001
●Amitai Etzioni, University Professor and Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University
●Thomas Fingar, Asia Pacific Research Center, Stanford University; former deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, 2005-2008
●Mary Gallagher, political science professor and director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan
●John Gannon, adjunct professor, Georgetown University; former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, 1997-2001
●Avery Goldstein, David M. Knott Professor of Global Politics and International Relations, University of Pennsylvania
●Steven M. Goldstein, associate of the Fairbank Center; director of the Taiwan Studies Workshop at Harvard University
●David F. Gordon, senior advisor, International Institute of Strategic Studies; former director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department, 2007-2009
●Philip H. Gordon, Mary and David Boies Senior Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations; former special assistant to the president and Coordinator for the Middle East and assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs
●Morton H. Halperin, former director of Policy Planning Staff at State Department, 1998-2001
●Lee Hamilton, former congressman; former president and director of the Wilson Center
●Clifford A. Hart Jr., former U.S. consul general to Hong Kong and Macau, 2013-2016
●Paul Heer, adjunct professor, George Washington University; former National Intelligence Officer for East Asia, 2007-2015
●Eric Heginbotham, principal research scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies
●Ambassador Carla A. Hills, former United States Trade Representative, 1989-1993; chair & CEO Hills & Company, International Consultants
●Jamie P. Horsley, senior fellow at the Paul Tsai China Center, Yale Law School
●Yukon Huang, senior fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
●Frank Jannuzi, president and CEO, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation
●Robert Jervis, Adlai E. Stevenson Professor and Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
●Marvin Kalb, nonresident senior fellow, Brookings Institution
●Mickey Kantor, former secretary of commerce,1996-1997; U.S. trade representative, 1993-1996
●Robert Kapp, president, Robert A. Kapp & Associates, Inc.; former president, U.S.-China Business Council; former president, Washington Council on International Trade
●Albert Keidel, adjunct graduate professor, George Washington University; former deputy director of the Office of East Asian Nations at the Treasury Department, 2001-2004
●Robert O. Keohane, professor of International Affairs emeritus, Princeton University
●William Kirby, Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School; T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies at Harvard University
●Helena Kolenda, program director for Asia, Henry Luce Foundation
●Charles Kupchan, professor of International Affairs, Georgetown University; senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
●David M. Lampton, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; Oksenberg Rholen Fellow, Stanford University Asia-Pacific Research Center; former president, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations
●Nicholas Lardy, Anthony M. Solomon Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics
●Chung Min Lee, senior fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
●Herbert Levin, former staff member for China on National Security Council and Policy Planning Council
●Cheng Li, director and senior fellow, John L. Thornton China Center, The Brookings Institution
●Kenneth Lieberthal, professor emeritus, University of Michigan; former Asia senior director, National Security Council, 1998-2000
●Yawei Liu, director of China Program, The Carter Center
●Jessica Mathews, distinguished fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
●James McGregor, chairman, Greater China, APCO Worldwide
●John McLaughlin, distinguished practitioner in residence, School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University; former deputy director and acting director of the CIA, 2000-2004
●Andrew Mertha, Hyman Professor and Director of the China Program, School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University
●Alice Lyman Miller, research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
●Mike Mochizuki, Japan-U.S. Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur, George Washington University
●Michael Nacht, Thomas and Alison Schneider Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; former assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, 2009-2010
●Moises Naim, distinguished fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
●Joseph Nye, University Distinguished Service Professor emeritus and former dean, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
●Kevin O’Brien, political science professor and director of Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
●Jean Oi, William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics, Stanford University
●Stephen A. Orlins, president, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations
●William Overholt, senior research fellow, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
●Douglas Paal, distinguished fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
●Margaret M. Pearson, Dr. Horace V. and Wilma E. Harrison Distinguished Professor, University of Maryland, College Park
●Peter C. Perdue, professor of history, Yale University
●Elizabeth J. Perry , Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government, Harvard University; director, Harvard-Yenching Institute
●Daniel W Piccuta, former deputy chief of mission and acting ambassador, Beijing
●Thomas Pickering, former under secretary of state for political affairs, 1997-2000; former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1989-1992
●Paul R. Pillar , nonresident senior fellow at the Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University
●Jonathan D. Pollack, nonresident senior fellow, John L. Thornton China Center, Brookings Institution
●Barry Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; director, MIT Security Studies Program
●Shelley Rigger, Brown Professor of East Asian Politics, Davidson College
●Charles S. Robb, former U.S. senator (1989-2001) and former chairman of the East Asia subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; governor of Virginia from 1982 to 1986
●Robert S. Ross, professor of political science, Boston College
●Scott D. Sagan, the Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science, Stanford University
●Gary Samore, senior executive director, Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University
●Richard J. Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science and director, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies
●David Shear, former assistant secretary of defense, 2014-2016; former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam
●Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning, State Department, 2009-2011; Bert G. Kerstetter ‘66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University
●Richard Sokolsky, nonresident senior fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
●James Steinberg, former deputy secretary of state, 2009-2011
●Michael Szonyi, Frank Wen-Hsiung Wu Memorial Professor of Chinese History Director, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University
●Strobe Talbott, former deputy secretary of state, 1994-2001
●Anne F. Thurston, former senior research professor, School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University
●Andrew G. Walder, Denise O’Leary and Kent Thiry Professor, School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University
●Graham Webster, coordinating editor, Stanford-New America DigiChina Project
●David A. Welch, University Research Chair, Balsillie School of International Affairs
●Daniel B. Wright, president and CEO, GreenPoint Group; former managing director for China and the Strategic Economic Dialogue, Treasury Department