“The Trump administration has been hyping its hate for TikTok (and, now, WeChat) as a national security matter. That premise is incredibly thin.
Yes, China’s government could compel U.S. user data from Bytedance, but it’s hard to imagine for what purpose it would do this or how this would somehow threaten the country’s safety. It’s not as if TikTok requires users to submit especially sensitive data. And if the kind of data users provide TikTok really is a huge threat in Beijing’s hands, then this threat extends to all digital tools made in China. For that matter: The U.S. government can pry user records from American tech companies—and while the Chinese Communist Party poses little threat to individual Americans outside China, the American authorities can use your data to punish you.”
“For several years now, China has been systematically repressing its Uighur Muslim minority in the western province of Xinjiang — millions of Uighurs have been detained in “reeducation” camps, where they are subjected to grievous human rights abuses including torture, sexual abuse, forced sterilization, family separation, and brainwashing.
Those Uighurs in Xinjiang who manage to avoid the camps still live under oppressive government surveillance and draconian restrictions aimed at erasing their religious and cultural traditions.”
“That Merkel is simply misguided on the threat China poses, as Fulda believes, is certainly possible. However, given the political climate, there is likely a graver impulse behind Merkel’s placating remarks: fear of retribution. After all, Merkel is far from the only prominent politician to skirt the issue of the CCP’s atrocious human-rights record — far from the only politician to pretend that the Chinese government is a fair party on which one can count to honor its agreements and to act with benevolence.
Last month, representatives of Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Poland, and the Czech Republic on the U.N. Human Rights Council, among others, refused to condemn China for its encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy — a serious blow to a unified Western countermovement against the CCP’s actions. In all, just 27 governments expressed criticism of China’s oppression law, with 53 in favor and the rest staying silent. Just as it is hard to believe that Angela Merkel is oblivious to the crimes China is committing, it is hard to believe that only 27 governments actually found fault with an effective ban on free expression and self-determination for Hong Kongers. (Granted, fewer governments around the world are democratic than one accustomed to Western laws might believe.) Rather, history has likely taught many nations that it is more expedient to keep their mouth shut than to take a firm stance on the global superpower with the world’s second-largest economy.”
“It is difficult to summon the moral courage to openly condemn a global superpower such as China, especially when large GDP growth and stable diplomatic relations are on the line. In any case, it would appear that the United States, in enacting sanctions against Chinese officials for abusing Uighur Muslims, terminating trade benefits for now-CCP-controlled Hong Kong, closing the Chinese consulate in Houston, and imposing export controls on corporations enabling China’s activity, stands virtually alone on China.
To be sure, there is an occasional discontinuity between the Trump administration’s official policy and the president’s rhetoric. As Trump himself has admitted, he had little desire to press China on its treatment of Uighur Muslims in the middle of trade negotiations with the nation in late 2018, even though top White House officials were already viewing the situation with concern. And as late as February 29, weeks after the CIA had already warned that China had vastly underreported its coronavirus infections and that its information was unreliable, Trump stated in a COVID-19 briefing: “China seems to be making tremendous progress. Their numbers are way down. . . . I think our relationship with China is very good. We just did a big trade deal. We’re starting on another trade deal with China — a very big one. And we’ve been working very closely. They’ve been talking to our people, we’ve been talking to their people, having to do with the virus.” But despite occasional confusion, the commitment to a solidly anti-Beijing foreign policy has been perhaps clearer in the Trump administration than in the government of any other country besides India and Taiwan. This is reflected not only in the U.S.’s recent policies but in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s denunciation of Xi, last week, as a “true believer in a bankrupt, totalitarian ideology” and in his insistence that the United States “induce China to change” lest Communist China “surely change us.””
“barring a massive change in European attitudes and in the fragile economic positions of nations such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the United States will not have many reliable allies in the fight against China’s most egregious abuses. The courageous pro-democracy residents of Hong Kong, as well as a few nations including Taiwan, India, and Israel, are notable but rare exceptions.”
“Numerous studies completed since the original China Shock research reveal fewer American jobs lost; significant consumer benefits in terms of lower prices and increased variety; substantial employment gains in services and export-oriented industries; and net economic benefits for the U.S. manufacturing sector and the country as a whole. Even if one were to treat the China Shock as economic gospel and pin most job-losses on PNTR, moreover, perspective on this damage is sorely needed: the 2 million American jobs destroyed over a 12-year period are less than the average weekly unemployment filings in April through June of this year, and even in normal times, the 1 million manufacturing jobs attributable to the China Shock would constitute less than 20 percent of all such losses (and less than 5 percent of all job losses) over the same period. Does that demand radical policy changes?”
“Recent analyses also show that U.S. low-skill manufacturing employment and “late stage” industries with routine, standardized processes likely would have suffered the same fate in the last two decades, regardless of the China Shock, due to non-trade issues like automation and competition from other developing countries. In fact, the data show that manufacturing jobs as a share of the U.S. workforce experienced only a modest change in their downward trend before and after China entered the WTO, and that Chinese imports replaced other imports (particularly those from Asia), not domestic production, between 1990 and 2017.”
“China’s WTO accession took more than 15 years and required dozens of intergovernmental meetings, negotiating texts, and Chinese economic reforms (not just the aforementioned tariff reductions)—reforms shown to have been so significant as to have fueled China’s post-WTO export competitiveness. The United States, meanwhile, was the final holdout among large industrialized nations to approve China’s WTO accession via bilateral negotiations, demanding ever more concessions from the Chinese government—including the right to impose special duties on Chinese imports—over a contentious 13-year negotiation. Key Clinton administration speeches and policy documents also demonstrate that U.S.–Chinese engagement was primarily a pragmatic decision to achieve commercial and foreign policy objectives, not “democratization.””
“The current obsession with China’s WTO entry also ignores myriad U.S. policy failures that actually did enable China or harm American companies and workers. Most notably, successive U.S. administrations pursued far too few WTO disputes in response to real Chinese trade infractions, despite the fact that global trade rules discipline key irritants like industrial subsidies and intellectual property, and that aggressive litigation has proven effective in curbing Chinese abuses. Other U.S. policy failures include the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a treaty that was designed in part to counterbalance China’s economic and geopolitical ambitions; its failure to reform tax, trade, and immigration policies that inhibit American companies’ global competitiveness; its failure to modernize adjustment assistance and worker retraining programs intended to mitigate trade, technological, or cultural disruptions; or its continued imposition of tax, education, occupational licensing, criminal justice, zoning, and other policies that leave American workers unprepared to compete in a global economy or discourage adjustment and recovery when disruptions occur.”
“China’s rise and the bilateral relationship arguably present this generation’s most pressing geopolitical issue, and the Communist Party’s human rights abuses, territorial expansionism, global health transgressions, and economic reversals deserve American scorn and response. Just as real and important are the seismic labor market and cultural disruptions that have upended many American families and communities. The proposed solutions to these problems, however, should stand on their own merit, not by pretending that they are an essential correction of the “mistakes” of PNTR and economic engagement with China more broadly. Doing so relieves such plans of the scrutiny they deserve, and could lead to truly bad governance: increasing U.S. protectionism and nativism, fomenting armed conflict, ignoring past policy mistakes, and thwarting a political consensus for real policy solutions to very real challenges—including and especially China.”
“Many U.S. companies only partially operate on the mainland, and some of them are basically shut out. Having offices in Hong Kong lets them have a footprint in China without being openly subject to CCP rule”
“China is exerting more direct control of Hong Kong through the Committee for Safeguarding National Security and another new body called the “Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” which is totally under the control of the mainland and not subject to Hong Kong jurisdiction at all. As the lines between the CCP and Hong Kong governance become blurrier, it becomes harder to claim you do not collaborate with or enable foreign governments that operate ethnic concentration camps.
And the NSL asks for much collaboration. Article 43 of the NSL empowers Hong Kong police with authorities to investigate suspected subversion. Specifically, law enforcement can “[require] a person who published information or the relevant service provider [i.e. technology company] to delete the information or provide assistance” including decryption. If the service provider refuses, the police can petition for a warrant to force the intended digital deeds.
In other words, to operate in Hong Kong, a technology company, foreign or domestic, must accept being deputized as a CCP informant. Failure to comply means possible fines of up to $100,000 HKD (around $13,000 USD) and six months in prison.
“The “one country, two systems” principle — enshrined in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution — has been in place ever since Britain handed back control of the territory to China in 1997.
As Vox’s Jen Kirby explains, “The ‘one country’ part means [Hong Hong] is officially part of China, while the ‘two systems’ part gives it a degree of autonomy, including rights like freedom of the press that are absent in mainland China. China is supposed to abide by this arrangement until 2047, but it has been eroding those freedoms and trying to bring Hong Kong more tightly under its control for years.””
“Beijing’s imposition of this new national security law is the most direct and dramatic move China has made toward erasing those freedoms once and for all.”
“At the start of Trump’s presidency, EU leaders harbored hopes that the combative president would team up with them to address an array of issues with China, particularly related to trade disputes, on which Beijing had long refused to give any ground. Instead, Trump lumped the EU, and especially Germany, together with China as trade rivals who had taken advantage of the U.S., and even slapped punitive tariffs on EU steel and aluminum products that prompted swift retaliation from Brussels.
And even as Pompeo said he was excited about the new dialogue over China, he reiterated some areas of sharp disagreement between Washington and European allies, including over Trump’s surprise decision to reduce the U.S. military presence in Germany, which Trump has linked to his political disagreements with Berlin, including Germany’s slow increases in military spending and its continued support of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
Pompeo in his speech tried to insist that Trump’s decision was based on a careful “strategic review” of military deployment levels and needs — a point that has been flatly refuted by current and former U.S. military officials.
Given the deep lack of trust, it seems unlikely that much progress will be made discussing China or anything else between now and the November election in the U.S. EU leaders at the moment are intensely focused on debating their new long-term budget and a European Commission proposal for an ambitious economic recovery fund.”
“Rather than securing a better trade agreement for American farmers and blue-collar workers, the real goal of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China was a second term in the White House. So says John Bolton, Trump’s former national security advisor, in a Wall Street Journal excerpt from his forthcoming book, The Room Where It Happened.
Bolton writes that he would be “hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision” that wasn’t driven by the president’s re-election plans. But Bolton singles out Trump’s fraught and sometimes frothy relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping as a particularly striking example of how Trump “commingled the personal and the national.””
“Rather than getting tough on China, Trump appears to care far more about the appearance of getting tough with China than actually accomplishing substantial policy.
That’s been fairly obvious to anyone who cared to look. After all, how many economists and journalists have debunked Trump’s claim that China is paying for the cost of his tariffs, or pointed out that trade deficits don’t work the way Trump seems to think they do? But the tariffs were a useful way to appear to be doing something. From the outside, Trump’s trade policy has looked like a haphazard, self-interested mess from the start; Bolton confirms that’s how it looked inside the White House too.”
“While it is true that the majority of drugs Americans consume are imported, just 13 percent of the facilities certified by the FDA to make drugs for the United States are located in China. Last year, less than 1 percent of the finished drugs imported into the United States came from China—compared to 23 percent from Ireland.”