“I tell you it is no use arguing with a Communist. It’s no good trying to convert a Communist or persuade him.”
— Winston Churchill
As the Soviet Union was spreading its control over Eastern Europe following the Second World War, then-former British prime minister Winston Churchill was prophetic in his description of what it would take to outlast the Communist empire without resorting to war.
“The only thing to do,” Churchill continued, “was to convince them that you have superior force . . . and that is the greatest chance of peace, the surest road to peace.”
At the time, Churchill’s prophesy was unwelcome in the war-weary West. Still, successive U.S. presidents largely adhered to his advice. The Soviet Communists were never converted or persuaded. They were defeated, mostly without war, by superior Western economic, diplomatic and military power, and by a more determined and inspiring vision of humanity.
Today’s challenge from the Chinese Communists must be seen the same way.
As in Churchill’s time, most Americans don’t want to hear about epic threats. We are weary of perpetual battles with terrorists and the massive dangers and disruptions associated with today’s pandemic.
But such threats don’t wait until we are ready for them. Like the pandemic, they arrive on their own timeline.
With lies and coverups, China will continue to try to hide its responsibility for failing to contain a virus that began in Wuhan, is killing hundreds of thousands worldwide and doing untold economic destruction.
But deceit about the virus is not the worst danger Chinese Communism poses. It is just its most glaring symptom. A virus can start in any country. The threats coming from China do not come from any other country.
In the past month alone, China has brazenly expanded its reach. In Hong Kong, it has arrested leading pro-democracy activists and is attempting to criminalize criticism of the Chinese government. It is increasing its hostile actions in the South China Sea, which one-third of the world’s shipping passes through. And the State Department has reported concerns about Chinese nuclear weapons testing in violation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
That’s just the past month. China has a years-long track record of brutality and aggression.
Domestically, it has vastly enlarged its military capabilities, created an Orwellian surveillance state and forced more than a million of its minority citizens into “re-education” camps.
Internationally, it has stolen intellectual property at unprecedented levels, taken over United Nations’ agencies such as the World Health Organization, exerted its leverage over poor countries with terrible debt deals and harassed its Asian neighbors, none more so than the free people of Taiwan.
The free world ignores this pattern at our peril.
From the 1970s through the Obama administration, U.S. leaders from both parties operated under the theory that as China grew stronger economically it would become more free and less aggressive, as had happened in other countries. However, in the case of China, that theory was disastrously wrong. As it gathered economic strength, China moved in the opposite direction, becoming less free and more aggressive.
Why was China different? Go back to Churchill’s explanation. The Communist Party thoroughly controls China’s military, commerce, technology and education. Everything its leaders do is aimed at expanding the party’s power. It is why they ethnically cleanse minorities. Why they impose a surveillance state. Why they cannot tolerate freedom in Hong Kong. Why they insist they will take over Taiwan. Why they claim South China Sea territory that is not theirs. Why they steal intellectual property. Why they seek to dominate poor countries and international organizations. Why they expand their nuclear arsenal. China is a dangerously different power because it is steadfastly committed to a Communist ideology that views its system as superior and seeks its advancement in every way.
China is far from the U.S. homeland. But America’s security depends on preventing distant powers from amassing enough strength to threaten us. In the past hundred years, we have stopped Germany twice and the Soviet Union for that reason. Now we face an expansionist Communist China whose economic power vastly exceeds anything the Soviets had during the Cold War. It is manifestly in our security interests to counter this threat.
This is not America’s challenge alone; free countries must unite to face it. In the Pacific region, Japan, India and Australia recognize the Chinese danger. Our European friends have been slower to the cause, but Chinese duplicity on the novel coronavirus is waking them up. Developing nations that once bought into China’s false generosity are now seeing through a clearer lens.
Focusing on China’s reprehensible actions in this pandemic is necessary, but the virus is just a small part of the threats China poses. The sooner the world recognizes that, the better prepared it will be to stop it. And as Churchill noted, preparation is the surest road to peace.
Op-ed by Nikki Haley
submitted to sun bay paper by her
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