Establishment media have insisted Russia is the greatest threat to the United States and alleges the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton.
But a far more powerful country is extending its influence in academia, government and corporate America – communist China.
Chinese corporations, which are massively subsidized and in some cases directly owned by the government of the People’s Republic, are purchasing a number of companies which will give China a great deal of leverage over the United States.
The world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, the technology company Motorola Mobility, and the information technology company Ingram Micro are among the businesses newly acquired by Chinese corporations.
Michele Nash-Hoff in IndustryWeek said China is also acquiring control over American energy, aviation and even entertainment companies.
Despite President Trump’s advocacy of “America First,” America’s trade deficit with China continues to increase and the most recent figures are expected to surpass the $346 billion deficit recorded in 2016.
China is also using donations to fund programs at universities that will promote its national interests.
For example, the prestigious School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University has endowed a new professorship in the China Studies department and a new “Pacific Community Initiative,” both of which were funded by a Hong Kong “nonprofit” bankrolled by Chinese communist officials.
As Foreign Policy magazine points out, the nonprofit, the “China-U.S. Exchange Foundation,” has forged partnerships and economic relationships with some of the most influential institutions in the United States. Among those institutions is the Podesta Group, which received more than $300,000 in itemized lobbying expenses during 2016.
The Confucius Institutes funded and sponsored by the Chinese government are also extending the People’s Republic influence in academia. Over 100 such institutes have been placed at American colleges and universities.
According to a report from the National Association of Scholars, the institutes sponsor programs at American institutions that promote narratives favorable to the Chinese government and actively suppress debate about any topics that could be construed as negative to the People’s Republic.
“Some of the topics that are off-limits or may spark controversy at some Confucius Institutes include the status of Tibet and Taiwan, the Dalai Lama, the Tiananmen Square massacre, and criticism of the Communist Party’s legitimacy,” the report says.
China is using its economic leverage to push for geopolitical concessions from American corporations as well. Recently, China demanded the international hotel chain Marriot remove language from a consumer survey that referred to Taiwan as a country.
According to the Chinese government, Taiwan is part of mainland China, a contention official media regards as a fact “beyond doubt and challenge.”
Marriot is now facing a criminal investigation in the country.
“Respecting China’s core interests is the bottom line for companies to operate in the country,” read an article from Xinhua, China’s official press agency.
American companies seem to be unconcerned about violating American immigration laws and are quite willing to openly lobby for the interests of illegal immigrants in the United States. However, these same companies are meekly complying with the Chinese government’s demands and eagerly parrot the People’s Republic geopolitical propaganda.
For example, Delta Airlines openly supported Barack Obama’s executive order to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation and has called for allowing illegals to remain in the United States. However, when the Chinese government demanded an apology from Delta for referring to Tibet and Taiwan as countries, the company scrambled to comply and apologized “deeply for the mistake.”
Some American journalists have begun sounding the alarm, with the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin exposing the Chinese influence operation in several articles, including “How China forces American companies to do its political bidding.”
However, as the Daily Caller pointed out, the Washington Post’s “China Watch” insert is itself a product of the Chinese government’s state-run media.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) developed a doctrine of the “Three Warfares,” including public opinion warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare in 2003.
Analyst Peter Mattis argues the PLA’s incorporation of the doctrine is not just an attempt to understand information warfare, as any army does, but to promote the interest and influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In China’s one-party state, Mattis argues, securing the influence of the party, rather than safeguarding the national population, is the driving motivation of the armed forces.
“The ‘Three Warfares’ are not just a feature of the PLA doing what the militaries do to prepare the battlefield; they are expressions of the CCP’s intentions and day-to-day operations,” he writes.
And while the Chinese influence debate is just getting started in the United States, it’s already shaping the politics of two of China’s major geopolitical targets – Australia and New Zealand. Accusations of foreign donations determining the foreign policy positions of elected leaders are ripping apart the politics of those nations.
Professor John Fitzgerald of the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, argues the Chinese government, through its “United Front Work Department,” is embedding supporters into institutions from community associations to universities to protect China’s interests.
“The most important feature of China’s propaganda operations is not content production or information dissemination but efforts at content control and suppression,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “China’s party leadership is quite explicit that one of its enemies is liberal democracy, another, the universal values that underpin democracy. It will strike down enemies where and when it can.”