Originally published in The Virginia Star on October 5, 2020.
By: Joseph MacKinnon
While over the past three-and-a-half years, the lyrics for the mainstream-media’s antiphon were “Will this be the end of the Trump presidency?” and “bombshell”, over the next five weeks, talking heads will nod and acid pens will retread new grooves, all repeating: “the October surprise”.
There is a great deal that President Trump can do over the next five weeks (besides recuperate and beat the coronavirus he contracted, courtesy of the CCP) that would constitute a historic surprise, and he would have himself to outdo. The action or gesture needs to be simultaneously more symbolic and impactful than his relocation of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; than normalizing peaceful relations between the UAE and Israel, and Bahrain and Israel; than starting the process of reconciliation between Serbia and Kosovo; than opening comms to the nuclear North Koreans and defusing Un’s rhetoric that could have amounted to a holocaust in Seoul; than pulling tens of thousands of troops out of the Near East and bringing America’s longest war to a close; than designating the KKK and Antifa domestic terrorist organizations; and putting Judge Barrett on the Supreme Court.
President Trump has an opportunity to make his boldest moral, strategic, and catalyzing move yet, entirely in the interest of the American people and the free world: to recognize the Republic of China (i.e. Taiwan) as a sovereign nation. His administration has already taken significant steps to “bolster” Taiwan’s status. This move wouldn’t be so subtle. More than a Tweet; Trump could recognize the island nation, constantly harassed and illegitimately claimed by the CCP, before the United Nations. He could challenge democratic, freedom-loving allies and acquaintances to do the same, and in so doing, ascertain who exactly has the intestinal fortitude to call out the evil empire, and who is willing to subordinate their people to it in the decades to come. President Trump should remind our nuclear adversary why it is that the United States Navy’s Seventh Fleet routinely transits the Taiwan Strait and for whom, and that the United States of America remains a force for good in the world.
President Trump should do this for three reasons: first, to end an era of reactive politicking and corrosive collaboration on the China front, and to instead exercise agency in the favor of the American working class (i.e. by onshoring business and manufacturing jobs presently conducted in China) and the free world; second, to prompt, in turn, a global referendum on the ambitions of a genocidal, totalitarian power that accelerated the spread of a manmade virus, which has now killed over a million people worldwide; and third, to signal a shift in foreign policy from the Near to the Far East, a resource prioritization of US Indo-Pacific Command and Space Force, and a reinforcement of American allies in southeast Asia.
The objective here is not to start a kinetic war. Fortunately, as things now stand, it is not in the CCP’s interest to go to war. Their hawks do not have shi on their side. They know to overreact would be premature and self-defeating. Ultimately, in the event of a clash, the CCP would lose, especially with America’s relationship with India strengthened by the Trump administration – India not a discountable force on China’s contested western border. Though Beijing would no doubt read this as provocation, Trump’s formal recognition of Taiwan would not be an attack on China but a sign of support for the Republic of China; signaling a radical international realignment extra to what has already occurred in 2020.
This move would have massive economic, societal, and military ramifications. It is also necessary. If the United States does not check the ambitious and evil empire when strong, it cannot hope to do so when weak, and make no mistake: communist China grows at America’s expense and with America’s demise as a key driver.
A monumental and historic decision such as this would send a clear signal to the hawks in the CCP. (We are well past the beginning of the Sino-American Cold War, and this decision would, by way of analogy, transform Taiwan into West Germany circa 1965.) The free world will not permit an atheistic, genocidal, communist state to become the global superpower, as the CCP intends it becomes by 2049.
Xi Jinping and the hawks in the CCP want China to entirely displace America and take the title of world superpower by 2049. This is neither a theory nor a dream. It is a well-defined plan, which Director of the Center on Chinese Strategy Dr. Michael Pillsbury discussed at length in The Hundred-Year Marathon. China is running a marathon, and the free world hangs in the balance. The failure in Washington – at least up until the Trump administration – to recognize that we’re in a race and losing, Dr. Pillsbury argues, constitutes “the most systematic, significant, and dangerous intelligence failure in American history.”
This is not a partisan issue. Responding to the House Intelligence Committee’s report, “The China Deep Dive: A Report on the Intelligence Community’s Capabilities and Competencies with Respect to the People’s Republic of China” (which was released in a redacted form on September 30th), Adam Schiff underlined that the stakes are “enormous”:
We must do everything possible to accurately predict and characterize Beijing’s intent, or we will continue to struggle to understand how and why the leadership of the CCP makes decisions, and fail to respond effectively.
Pillsbury noted that the first step, “recognizing that there is a Marathon, may be the most difficult to take, but it is also the most important.” The House Intelligence Committee’s report constitutes that first step.
Taking that first step: those American politicians not bought off directly or indirectly by the CCP, waking up to the existential threat that the CCP poses, not just toward America’s friends and allies, but to America itself. Never mind a trade war; China is concurrently waging a biological war and a cyber war against the mainland United States. Senators Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, and Martha McSally, and Representative Matt Gaetz, are among the minority of conscientious Americans who have for months been clamoring to draw everyone’s attention to what is now accepted. Something must be done. And Trump is the man to do it.
Ten years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, Chinese hawks went ballistic when the United States accidently killed two Chinese nationals in Serbia on May 7th, 1999. Clinton’s apologies were viewed as insincere. At the time, doves within the party had a shot of reforming China for the better; perhaps not of democratizing it or liberalizing it in a meaningful way, but of making China less antipathetic to the West. The bombing in Serbia gave the hawks license to purge the doves from the regime, and inspired greater commitment among the remaining skeptics to both America’s destruction and the end of centuries of perceived humiliation by the West. After all, the hawks believed that the American “tyrant” was testing their resolve; that America had inspected their cauldrons. (In the Warring States era, for one leader to ask to see the cauldrons belonging to another sovereign was to indicate his intention to take them militarily. This concept is contextualized in Pillsbury’s book, where he discusses the relationship of Warring States strategy to the CCP’s marathon.)
In the alternate history, the CCP has impressed upon the Chinese people it runs roughshod over, Clinton’s apologies were theater; intended as insult to an intended injury. In the final weeks of 2019, the CCP answered back in historic fashion. This past winter, the Chinese regime asked to see America’s cauldrons, and did so by killing over 208,000 Americans while subsuming Hong Kong.
How does one run such a race? Carefully. How do we win it? Decisively. Would sanctions suffice? No. Would a full and total decoupling be a nonviolent means to annul the race? Perhaps. Qualifying this last answer: yes, if that decoupling is done strategically, such that a key pursuit within the CCP’s grand scheme is thwarted in the process and its expansion checked.
The House Intelligence Committee’s recent report states that the Chinese Communist Party’s ideological vision for the 21st Century is:
Inextricably linked to this is the achievement of the “China Dream,” a concept that Xi has tied to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the development of a powerful military capable of defending China’s core interests, the achievement of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the elimination of “lax and weak governance” over the Party through adherence to the mass line.
Furthermore, the CCP intends to “pressure international organizations to integrate its own ideological maxims into multilateral agreements” and seeks to globalize Beijing’s ideology. To globalize Beijing’s ideology is to enslave the world.
We needn’t speculate about what a future in the shadow of the CCP would look like. The Chinese Communist regime evidences its blatant disregard for human rights and freedom daily: its genocide of Uighur Muslims; its brutal persecution, torture, re-education, imprisonment, organ seizure, and harassment of underground Roman Catholics, house Christians, and the Falun Gong; its erasure of Nepalese and Mongolian culture; its ‘great firewall’ preventing citizens access to content not approved by their censorious overlords; its tight control on its people’s mobility; its growing social credit program and surveillance initiatives; its history of forced abortions (an estimated 250 million since 1979); its ongoing aggression against Taiwan, Tibet, Japan, India, and other neighbors; its abuses in Hong Kong; and so forth. A regime that monstrous to its own people and community cannot be allowed to win this marathon, and America cannot be abandoned by its friends to run alone.
The Trump administration rejects Graham Allison’s fatalism in Destined for War and the Kissinger-types’ policy of appeasement. In fact, it has taken Pillsbury’s wisdom to heart and determined to shake off the naiveté and indifference of past administrations. Trump’s America will no longer be exploited and weakened by the CCP (as had been the CCCP). It will not permit the globalization of Beijing’s ideology.
President Trump has sanctioned communist companies for their role in the manufacture of military islands in the South Sea. He sanctioned additional CCP corporate protuberances for their role in carrying out or facilitating the butchery of Uighurs. Sanctions are ineffective against a country whose overlords don’t care about the cost to its subjects. After all, the CCP murdered tens of millions of Chinese in the 20th Century while leaping to the unstable ground it presently finds itself on. The collectivist, leftist ideology embraced by Chairman Xi and his allies precludes them from feeling pressured to reform by the suffering of the Chinese people. Rather than or in addition to imposing additional sanctions, Trump can recognize Taiwan and thereby prevent Xi from achieving his “one country, two systems” plan.
If the cost to America for defying the evil empire is “decoupling” – and recognizing that the CCP Virus has slain over 208,000 Americans and infected the President, our First Lady, and 7.5M of our brothers and sisters – the penalty is a prize.
If the rest of Congress and the Senate – particularly those outside of the Trump camp – don’t recognize that there is a marathon and that America could very well lose, the world is either destined for war (a prospect Allison entertains) or slavery. Not only must America make a concerted effort to win this race, but it must check the CCP for daring to have inspected its cauldrons.
By taking this stand now, Trump can force our politicians to prevent the CCP from doing to Taiwan what is it is presently doing to Hong Kong, Nepal, and Tibet. It can turn the tide against communist Chinese imperialism in southeast Asia. It will end the trend in Washington of appeasement. Most critically, President Trump can reclaim the future for freedom-loving people antipathetic to the most murderous regime in human history.