Bowing to China’s Growing Power
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
When China’s Xi Jinping first gained leadership of the huge Asian nation in 2012, he faced a term-limit provision in the Chinese constitution that would force his retirement in 2022. But that law no longer exists. Senior Communist Party officials quietly agreed in January to abolish the constitution’s term limitation policy. When the National People’s Congress (close to 3,000 members) met early in March, there was no doubt that they would follow the recommendation of their seniors. They erased the term limits clause in a grand show of docility.
Xi Jinping is now president for life in the country with the world’s largest population and an increasingly obvious status as an economic giant. Now able to dictate that it be treated with fawning respect by outsiders, China has nevertheless continued to be led by a totalitarian regime. Not only has it become an economic power, its leaders are creating a military capability that, before long, could challenge any other military power on earth.
If there are any opponents within China of Xi’s remarkable power grab, they have chosen – either wisely or reluctantly – to remain silent. Commentary within China on his bold ascendancy is virtually non-existent. The government has made impossible any discussion of the matter, and the people are well aware of this tyrannical prohibition.
Not only is criticism of anything about China discussed openly within the country’s borders, any opposition to any Chinese policy elsewhere is increasingly challenged. Intimidation resulting from China’s growing omnipresence reaches out worldwide. Ethnic Chinese waitresses in Australia can be told by fellow Australians to keep silent about their pro-Taiwan attitude. American firms have required employees to avoid registering even a hint of disapproval of China’s takeover of Tibet several decades ago. Similarly, no one shall be permitted to challenge Beijing’s frightening attitude toward Taiwan. Friends of this prosperous bastion of freedom and its 23 million citizens increasingly receive a scolding if the island is considered a free country.
Further, American firms have been quick to apologize and correct what China claims to be insulting or merely erroneous mention of Taiwan’s claims for itself. Columnist Jeff Jacoby has pointed out that Marriott corporate leaders prostrated themselves before China when a minor American employee in Nebraska posted his agreement with a pro-Tibet article he saw on the internet. He was promptly fired. Apple meekly blocked any possibility that China’s people could access the internet’s information about their country. After receiving a complaint from China, Delta Airlines quickly erased its reference to both Tibet and Taiwan as “countries.” All of this and more led Jacoby to conclude: “Every time a corporation kowtows to China’s outrageous bullying, it ensures that more bullying will follow.”
One truly remarkable instance of China’s growing clout surfaced recently when China obtained the Vatican’s willingness to abandon faithful Catholic clergy in the communist-led nation. Bishops loyal to Rome have operated underground for decades while others have renounced their ties to the seat of Catholicism and become members of the so-called “Patriotic Catholic Church.”
But bullying isn’t the only important concern. What if Mainland China decides to invade and occupy Taiwan as it did when it sent conquering forces into Tibet several decades ago? The U.S. has long been committed to defend Taiwan’s 23 million should China choose to recapture the island it has always considered to its property. Would the U.S. defend its ally, or would our leaders accept a Chinese takeover?
Further, U.S. leaders have never responded to the 25 percent tariff on U.S. autos entering China while our tariff on Chinese cars entering the U.S. is a measly 2.5 percent. American firms in China cannot exceed 50 percent ownership while Chinese firms in America are permitted 100 percent. No aware American has to be told of the presence of “Made in China” labels on an array of goods for sale here. And perhaps the most stunning indication of American decline and foreign ascendance is the fact that 97 percent of the clothing Americans purchase is made overseas, mostly in China.
President Trump wants to make America great again. He first has to assure that America reverses the almost daily slide away from its greatness.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.