by Curtis Ellis
Just as China has gutted America’s manufacturing base, it has gutted most of our nation’s foundational institutions.
When President Trump imposed import duties on a wide range of Chinese goods, we discovered just how reliant our nation had become on the communist People’s Republic of China for a wide array of manufactured and finished goods.
A parade of American businesses petitioned the U.S. government to exempt some 13,000 different items from tariffs.
We are by now familiar with the empty factories across the country that once turned out auto parts, appliances, and consumer electronics, all shuttered by cheap imports from China.
But who knew that the officially atheist nation whose regime persecutes people of faith prints most of the Bibles we read at home and in church? Our worship services depend on China.
Or that China produces the specialized drill bits used to extract oil and gas from the ground? Our energy industries depend on China.
And of course, the Chinese virus revealed just how dependent our health care had become on China.
But more than just these hard industries have been hollowed out. We see the same pattern repeated in academia, finance, media and government.
We have long regarded our institutions of higher education as the crown jewels of America, shrines of academic freedom and free inquiry as well as technical expertise. When they returned home, the story was that students from across the globe would carry the bedrock Western values inculcated by our universities and liberalize the world.
A nice fantasy; but the reality is quite different.
A Chinese student at the University of Minnesota was arrested in China and sentenced to six months in prison for tweets he posted while in the United States, Axios reports. According to Chinese court documents, the student used his Twitter account to post pictures of a cartoon villain that resembles Xi Xinping and of Winnie the Pooh, a character Chinese netizens use to lampoon Xi.
In response, the University of Minnesota has said … nothing. Add academia to the list of the hollowed out.
This is far from the only example of how American universities have become so dependent on Chinese money they have abandoned all standards and values.
Leading China-watcher and CCP critic Christopher Balding describes the China exclusion rule and how it’s corrupted so many institutions.
“Universities and political science professors will talk at length about foreign interference and disinformation and rightfully so. Ask them to ensure their own universities and departments are following the laws for foreign donations and we get the [China exclusion] response: trust me,” Balding writes.
We do not know the full extent of the university programs dedicated to everything from foreign relations to climate science that have been tainted by Chinese money.
On another front, Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges are refusing to follow U.S. securities laws. Those arguing that we should allow Chinese companies to raise money in our capital markets are actually arguing that we should ignore U.S. securities law for Chinese companies. And some of the most well-known bold-faced names in American finance are making this argument.
The unequal application of laws has hollowed out not just American capital markets, but the rule of law itself.
We expect politicians to be free of conflicts of interest. How much ink has been spilled over the Trump Organization renting hotel rooms to foreign government officials? Meanwhile, current and former Democratic officials from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and most famously Joe Biden have enriched themselves and their families from lucrative business deals with the People’s Republic.
China has hollowed out the integrity of our political system.
Seventy-five years after the close of World War II, our political system has incorporated international institutions into our foreign policy establishment. These, too, have been hollowed out.
The World Trade Organization maintains the fiction that the PRC is a developing country, allowing it to maintain tariff rates the Eurocrats would not countenance in any other economy of that size. And while the Beijing regime has never lived up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it sits on the UN Human Rights Council.
Corporate America has suffered the same fate as the factories with which it was once synonymous. In fact, there is no longer such a thing as “corporate America.” The titans of business consider themselves global, not American, corporations. They control our news and information media—ABC/Disney, AT&T Warner/CNN, Viacom-Paramount/CBS, Universal-Comcast/NBC—and have extensive business interests in China that color their decision-making.
While industrial America was the arsenal of democracy, Hollywood was the signal corps. From World War II to the Cold War, Hollywood promoted American life and culture—our freedoms, values and can-do attitude as well as our material prosperity—to the world.
But Chinese influence has gutted this soft power center as thoroughly as it has the Rust Belt.
Mickey Mouse has become Mickey Mao-se. In the end credits, Disney thanks the Chinese Communist authorities running “Maoschwitz” style concentration camps.
Filmmaker Judd Apatow confessed to MSNBC’s Ari Melber that Hollywood’s corporate giants are “not going to air documentaries that go deep into truthful areas because they make so much money” from China. “So while we’re going, ‘Can we say this joke, can we not say that joke?,’ on a much bigger level they have just completely shut down critical content about human rights abuses in China, and I think that’s much scarier.”
American culture was a potent weapon in the Cold War. The CIA secretly funded international exhibitions of American abstract expressionists including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko to contrast American freedom with Soviet conformity. In the end, rock and roll contributed as much as MIRVed warheads to the undoing of the evil empire.
So, too, did American capital. The Reagan Administration blocked financing for a Trans-Siberian pipeline that would deliver Soviet gas to Western Europe. This cut off the hard currency the Kremlin badly needed.
The CCP has penetrated our cultural, financial, industrial and political institutions. This may well prove more decisive than aircraft carrier battle groups to the outcome of the contest between East and West.
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Curtis Ellis is policy director with America First Policies. He was also a senior policy advisor with the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign in 2016.
Photo “Xi Jinping” by Palácio do Planalto. CC BY 2.0.