By Stu Cvrk & Larry Schweikart
Part one of a four-part series
The View from 2016
Let’s go back just a few years ago to the world as President Donald Trump had remade it. He had canceled or pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership “treaty” (which was not a treaty because the Senate had never ratified it); ended America’s participation in the Paris Climate Agreement; renegotiated a new NAFTA along lines far more favorable to the United States, and entered into negotiations with the Chinese aimed at forcing them into a fairer trading arrangement. The latter became at least a two-phase process, and under Phase I, despite critics who claimed the agreement wasn’t effective, the Chinese promised to buy “an additional $12.5 billion in US agricultural products in year one, and then $19.5 billion in year two. Those commitments come atop roughly $24 billion in farm purchases that China made in 2017.”
That was on top of an even broader pending agreement for manufactured goods and energy exports by 2021. While actual purchases remained well below the agreed levels, the trend lines were up, with U.S. exports increasing to within $4 billion of Chinese imports, almost reaching parity, according to PIEE's “U.S.-China Phase One Tracker: China’s Purchases of US Goods.”
Critics gleefully pointed out that the numbers lagged the Trump administration’s targets---but they were moving in the right direction. Moreover, on September 22, 2019, the “Howdy, Modi” summit attracted 50,000 people and marked a strong shift of Indian-Americans to Trump. More importantly, it signaled a new era of Indo-American relations that would pose a new threat to China’s southern border.
Between the trade agreements, the shocking recovery of the U.S. economy prior to the China Virus hitting in the early spring of 2020, and the rapid expansion of the American energy sector, the Chinese plan to overtake the United States was dealt a series of setbacks after Trump took office. Keep in mind that contrary to popular assumptions, the Chinese were facing challenging future trends; they have an aging population and, by 2030, will be older on average than the USA! [See Peter Zeihan, The Reluctant Superpower.] Their energy future is dismal, and despite a massive navy, they are effectively locked into their own territorial waters surrounded by weaker foes, but weaker foes who are potential enemies with the potential to exact a terrible cost on the Chinese fleet. In short, Donald J. Trump was their worst enemy.
Did they just recognize this threat in 2019? No. The Chicom government knew from the moment he started running that Donald Trump would make a very bad American President... for them. Fast forward to early 2020: the roaring American economy has come to a screeching halt due to the virus that appeared in Wuhan. Many questioned whether the release of the China Virus was deliberate; whether it was a weapon; or whether it was accidental and was just classic communist incompetence. The China-friendly New York Times weighed in, arguing that although it was an accidental release, China’s censorship on news about the virus certainly made its impact much worse.
There can be no doubt that the impact of the China Virus has been to send American unemployment from 3.5% to over 11%, to shut down commerce in major American urban areas, and to temporarily dampen American energy expansion as the world ceased traveling on airlines and cruise ships. Even in Hollywood, an arena where the Chinese invested heavily, the damage was severe, closing all the nation’s theater chains (plus all of China’s theaters as well) and shuttering production for three of the studios in which the Chinese have major interests. Accidental or purposeful, the China Virus had the result of severely damaging Trump in the 2020 campaign.
What follows is an analysis of what the Communist Chinese were already engaging in by way of manipulating the U.S. government before Trump became a candidate, how they accelerated their efforts after he was nominated, and how the entire Russian collusion hoax aligned with their interests to a “T.” Is there direct evidence of Chinese participation or backing of the Russia Hoax? Was the entire Russia Hoax a Chinese Operation? Let’s return to the world in 2016 and examine the evidence.
China Overtures Prior to Donald Trump
Even before Donald Trump came on the scene, the Chicoms were busy little beavers infiltrating and compromising American politicians, universities, and think tanks. My former employer, the University of Dayton – a landlocked college some 2,000 miles from the Pacific Coast! – had a satellite campus, the Suzhou Industrial Park, in China. In 2019, it was announced the UD classes would cease to exist there due to lacking a “critical mass” of students. The main flow of Chinese infiltration into higher education and academia went the other direction, with some 67 Confucius Institutes established in partnership with U.S. colleges and universities as of 2020 when the Trump administration designated them a “foreign mission” seeking to extend Chinese influence in America.
The Confucius Institutes were supplemented with the 2008-founded “Thousand Talents” plan that would recruit leading experts in science and entrepreneurship, mainly as a means to gain access to new technology and business inventions for their own military advantage. Some of the winners of the awards included Tim Byrnes of NYU Shanghai and westerners working at Chinese universities, including Nobel Prize winner Fraser Stoddart, Keith Kendrick, and Dieter Hoffman. They all received high pay and visa privileges.
It seemed like almost every American university needed a China campus. To mention just a handful:
Troy State, University of Kentucky. Xavier (Louisiana), University of Maryland, Valparaiso, several of the State University of New York schools, University of Idaho, George Washington University, Northwest Nazarene, Kansas State, Colorado State, Georgia State, Kennesaw State, Central Connecticut State, California State-Long Beach, Wayne State, New Mexico State, Cleveland State, Portland state, most of the University of California schools, Stanford, University of Arizona, University of Missouri, University of Toledo, Miami University, University of Oklahoma, William & Mary, and at least a dozen more. Many of these, which started between 2007-2008, are now expected to close. It is perhaps ironic that the China Virus is doing more to close these open vessels to American science and technology than President Trump did.
The Chicoms’ establishment of Confucius Institutes and the use of the Thousand Talents program to infiltrate and influence colleges and universities are soft power propaganda efforts intended to promote Chinese culture and censor voices critical of Communist China’s aggressive policies. U.S. universities are only happy to leverage the “free resources” provided through the Confucius Institutes to conduct credentialed Chinese language programs. Other corrupting influences are the joint research and exchange programs funded by the U.S. Dept of Education and other U.S. federal agencies that frequently include researchers from mainland China. The Chicoms routinely refuse the issuance of visas to the U.S. scholars (and others) who are critical of Chicom human rights policies.
Declining attendance by Americans – and the attendant negative impact on tuition income – have been buttressed by foreign students, including an influx of Chinese students who pay full tuition. As reported here, Secretary of State Pompeo stated in a recent interview that, “We have almost 400,000 Chinese students in an average year studying here, and too many of those have deep connections to the Chinese security apparatus, to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army." The economic impact of these students transcends tuition and includes local economic impacts on housing and other logistics infrastructure supporting students.
Chinese students in America belong to Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSA), ostensibly as a means to assist those students with coping with living away from China. The reality is that the CSSA's are managed and directed by the Chinese Communist Party's United Front Work Department, which coordinates “cultural exchanges” as well as spying activity by students and other overseas Chinese, as reported by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in 2018:
China uses “United Front” work to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD)—the agency responsible for coordinating these kinds of influence operations—mostly focuses on the management of potential opposition groups inside China, but it also has an important foreign influence mission. To carry out its influence activities abroad, the UFWD directs “overseas Chinese work,” which seeks to co-opt ethnic Chinese individuals and communities living outside China, while a number of other key affiliated organizations guided by China’s broader United Front strategy conduct influence operations targeting foreign actors and states.
Individual CSSA's on American university campuses are also sponsored and monitored by the Chinese embassy and consular officials to ensure that their espionage activities are “fruitful.”
Chitty Chitty Fang Fang
In addition to education, a major---perhaps the major offensive---involved the Chicoms working their way into the American political system, one bribe or honeypot at a time. Consider the recent revelations of Democrat Congressman Eric Swalwell cavorting with a Chicom spy a few years ago that provides a window into Chicom subversion of the U.S. political class and national elections. It even turns out that Swalwell also took donations from a Chicom employee, as reported here.
There is much more to the story, which originated with this lightly-sourced bombshell. Left-of-center Axios reported on December 8 that a Chinese spy had infiltrated the American political network in California, specifically targeting American congressmen such as Eric Swalwell and then-representative Mike Honda. This began sometime before 2014 according to the article. A Chinese operative named Fang Fang (aka Christine Fang) worked politicians in the San Francisco area, maintaining access to people with extremely sensitive intelligence positions in the U.S. government, including Swalwell (D-CA15), and placed “at least one intern” inside Swalwell’s office, according to Axios. Swalwell claimed he met the intern over eight years ago (i.e., circa 2012) and hadn’t seen her in six years.
Fang left the United States in 2015, with the operation supposedly “dissipated." Before doing so, she raised “millions” for Swalwell’s reelection in 2014 and also helped “fund-raise for . . . Representative Tulsi Gabbard” (D-HA). According to a Yahoo story, “U.S. officials have determined that Fang’s purpose for her presence in the country was to cultivate connections with rising U.S. officials in order to later influence them on policy related to China.”
What policies related to China might those be, and what are the Chicom goals with respect to the U.S. in general? First and foremost, they seek to displace the U.S. as the world’s economic and military superpower. Their strategy to accomplish these goals was laid out by the Rand Corporation in this document. President Xi Jinping’s major economic policies are geared toward that overarching goal: the Belt and Road Initiative, the Maritime Silk Road, and Made in China 2025. In parallel, the Chicoms have greatly expanded their military capabilities over the last generation, as noted in this comprehensive China Task Force report completed in September by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Their multi-track strategy to achieve world dominance involves subverting the U.S. economy and our national security and includes bribery and extortion of key U.S. decision-makers, penetration of U.S. institutions through the use of fellow-travelers and paid operatives, exploiting cheap Chinese labor to capture Western and multi-national manufacturing industries, an ongoing military build-up, the lure of the “huge Chinese market” to exploit “capitalist greed,” use of “Chinese-American friendship organizations” to mask Chinese intentions, direct influence in U.S. universities and academia, and a massive espionage campaign focused on stealing classified military information, American science and technology, and industrial and economic secrets.
Their strategy involves “strangling us with our own systems” in a coordinated campaign of psychological and information warfare with the help of their paid U.S. lackeys, sycophants, and Commies in disguise, as summarized in this short video:
That psychological and information warfare campaign has achieved stunning successes, according to Chinese expert retired Marine Colonel Grant Newsham, writing at the Center for Security Policy:
[T]he CCP has pulled off the most successful psychological operations campaign in history over the last four decades. It managed to neuter the United States – the only country that might have prevented it from building an economy and a military able to challenge and conceivably defeat the Americans.
And it didn’t have to fire a shot. More impressive, it got the Americans to assist and even fund the effort – convinced that the PRC was unthreatening (or could be made so), indispensable, and a gold mine. The Chinese didn’t exactly hide their intentions. One only had to pay attention – and take Beijing at its word.
Like all good psyops campaigns, the Communists knew their target’s vulnerabilities. They capitalized on American avarice, ignorance, naiveté, vanity, and hubris. And Beijing attacked on a broad front – successfully manipulating American business and Wall Street, government officials and the political class, academia, and even U.S. military leaders.
Co-opting and bribing US politicians such as Eric Swalwell to influence U.S. government policies favorably toward Beijing is direct action by the Chicoms. Indirect actions include undermining the U.S. economy via a psyops campaign and exploiting social media through the use of “bot armies” to influence U.S. policymakers and unsuspecting Americans, as reported in this detailed article. The Chicoms are just as experienced and subtle in exploiting indirect actions such as disinformation as are the Russians, who essentially invented “dezinformatsiya” and developed techniques aimed directly at the U.S. during the Cold War. The precepts of dezinformatsiya are summarized here.
While much of the Democrat focus since 2016 has been on the “Russian threat” and Russian influence in U.S. elections, in reality, the real threat to U.S. national security – and our election system – is the Chinese Communist Party. The Chicoms are delighted by the success of their disinformation operations campaign to keep the focus on “muh Russia” and away from Communist China. There is apparently some intelligence community disagreement about the release of a report from the Director of National Intelligence detailing foreign interference in the 2020 election. Given that the Chicoms are featured prominently in that report, is the delayed-release just a “coincidence,” or are Chicom influence agents (spies?) hard at work?
Make sure to bookmark this page for Part 2 of this ongoing series.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author of the New York Times #1 bestseller, A Patriot’s History of the United States, author of Reagan: the American President, and is the founder of the history educational website, Wild World of History, that features full courses in US and World history with “Professor Larry” instructing. Web: http://wildworldofhistory.com Twitter: @LarrySchweikart
Stu Cvrk served 30 years in the US Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. An oceanographer and systems analyst through education and experience, Stu is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education. This functions as the key foundation for his political commentary. He threads daily on Twitter on a wide range of political topics, such as the military, foreign policy, government, economics, and world affairs. Twitter: @STUinSD