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    To me, it is obvious – the Western World is blind towards Beijing!

    October 2020

    The Trump administration banned the popular short-video app TikTok and WeChat in the United States, because their parent companies, ByteDance and Tencent, are both Chinese. Washington is worried that the personal data of the many millions of Americans using the apps could be siphoned off to China and misused.

    To some, that concern may seem excessive or its timing politically opportunistic, but the danger posed by TikTok is real: In fact, it is only a stand-in for far greater risks.

    The problem isn’t just TikTok or WeChat. The tech giant Huawei – which the U.S. government blacklisted last year, calling it a threat to America’s national security – is another company with close connections to China. So is Zoom, the U.S.-based teleconferencing service provider established by a billionaire Chinese immigrant, which uses software partially developed in China.

    There are also the Confucius Institutes, purportedly just a vast network of Chinese language teaching centers but really also an instrument of Beijing’s propaganda and pressure tactics. And there are many more smaller, but no less dangerous, Chinese entities or entities with strong Chinese background operating in the United States. All are thoroughly embedded there, reaching deep into offices and homes – shaping how Americans work, learn and play. Companies with ties to China or its government now occupy critical choke points of American society.

    This, believe me or not, is no accident. President Xi Jinping has a dream – a “Chinese Dream” of global dominance – and his strategy for achieving that has two main prongs:

    The first is the traditional and tangible hard-power push to set up military bases and seaports controlled by Chinese interests around the world, and it has been much discussed by China observers and me in past articles.

    A Chinese company now has a 99 – year lease over the port of Darwin in northern Australia – next to an Australian naval base that hosts U.S. Navy warships. Among the tiny island republics in the South Pacific, long regarded as Australia’s sphere of influence, China has new supporters, won over largely through pocketbook diplomacy.

    Kiribati switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China last year, after China built a fish – processing plant there. For a time, the government of the Solomon Islands was Hongkomgconsidering leasing out an entire island to a Beijing – based company with ties to the Chinese Communist Party: Meanwhile, according to Reuters, the Solomon Island government was seeking a 100billion US-Dollar loan from “Chinese interests” – about 70 times the country’s gross domestic product in 2019.

    Across the Indian Ocean, where historically India has held sway, China now controls or helps manage ports, airfields, military bases or observation stations, along the coast of Myanmar and in Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Pakistan, all the way to Djibouti and Kenya. It is also making forays right in America’s backyard, for example, eyeing the Panama Canal.

    China’s move to establish physical footholds around the world is easy enough to recognize as evidence of a in my opinion coherent game plan, in part because those perches are readily marked on a map and because other major powers positioned themselves in much the same way in the past. Beijing has also bragged about these projects – and its intentions – by giving them grand monikers like the Belt and Road Initiative.

    Not so with soft – power ambitions, whose growth has been much less noticed – at least until President Trump started picking a fight with Beijing. And yet these are much more intrusive, and potentially far more dangerous.

    The Chinese government is essentially forward – deploying and selling up various outposts within the United States and other developed democratic countries, in classrooms, boardrooms and bedrooms.

    TikTok has vowed, “We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.” But that’s a laughable, useless, if not deliberately misleading, guarantee. Since China adopted the National Intelligence Law in June 2017, all Chinese citizens and companies have been under a legal obligation to help the government gather intelligence and keep any cooperation secret. The law allows China’s intelligence services to embed their people and devices or to requisition facilities in any premise, anywhere, for that purpose.

    The constitution of the Chines Communist Party also essentially requires any company with at least three party members to form a cell tasked with carrying out the party’s wishes.

    You’re right! When you read this you can honestly ask yourself if history repeats itself – if Europe and the rest of the world have forgotten about the Soviet era. What kind of role plays Europe in this puzzle?! Where is Germany, France, the UK or even the EU including Brussels; where are our European leaders Ms. Merkel, Mr. Macon, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Von der Leyen?! I can’t believe that they can be such ignorant and blind towards history and reality. Do we really need to repeat a kind of Europe’s history on world stage with China?

    Does TikTok – in which ByteDance, a Chinese company, which is also expected to remain heavily involved even if a sale to Oracle goes through – really expect China to write laws that create only theoretical possibilities?

    The U.S. government has grasped the danger of Huawei – a company it says has links to the Chinese military – as a leading supplier of 5G equipment: Beijing could tap it to order a viral attack that would incapacitate American homes and factories, or the national power grid and other critical infrastructure. Recent U.S. rules further restrict the sale of U.S. – made computer chips and other components to the company.

    In August, the Trump administration also designated the Washington – based center that oversees the network of Confucius Institutes operating in the United States as a “foreign mission” of the government of China, requiring more transparency in its operations and funding.

    Zoom, an American company, has not been placed under U.S. sanctions, and it has said recently that it would no longer comply with requests by the Chinese government to shutdown meetings or user accounts involving people outside China. But because the C.E.O. and major shareholders have strong Chinese backgrounds and the company has hundreds of employees in China, it could nonetheless pose on even greater threat in my opinion to privacy than might TikTok – especially now that, thanks to the corona virus pandemic, so many American corporations rely on Zoom for online conferencing, despite its questionable encryption practices.

    If the Chinese Communist Party wants one of its cells among Zoom’s employees to snoop in on conversations within, say, American or even international high-tech firms, who is Zoom to say no?

    To point this out is not to be paranoid. It is only to recognize that the mind of a Chinese leader is strategic to the extreme and that world leaders should definitely not ignore!

    Take Mao, whom Mr. Xi reverses. The strategy Mao used to further his goal of a Marxist-Leninist world revolution in the 1960s was the same he had used to vanquish his much stronger opponent, Chiang Kai-shek, during China’s civil war from the late 1920s to 1950: win over the countryside in order to surround the cities. By analogy, the world’s advanced capitalist countries were the cities, and less developed countries were its countryside. Mao began courting Third World nations in earnest in the 1960s.

    Mr. Xi in my opinion is reaping the benefits today. The World’s countryside has been won over, secured with physical and financial choke points, and Mr. Xi is now bringing the fight to the metropolises – the West – by forward – deploying China’s virtual choke points. It is time to “dare to draw the dazzling sword,” he and his government have declared repeatedly.

    The strategy-richness of Chinese thinking is not a Communist invention. China’s imperial civil service examination system included a physical test of martial skills and a written test in classical military texts. But the Chinese government is now doubting down on it, including in education.

    The concept of “geopolitical choke points “ – literally, narrow passes – has long been part of the vocabulary of primary school students in China, who can readily rattle off, by way of simply rhymed classical poems, the names of half a dozen such sites in China, all marking the historical expansion of the country’s boundaries into the homelands of so-called barbarians.

    Chinese children also study “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, which has two chapters, “Terrain” and “The Nine Situations,” that deal with strategic topography. In 2015, the text became required reading in junior high schools. Some publishers have put out an illustrated version for 7 to 14-year-olds.

    The 14th – century novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” which chronicles the wars of the third century, is one of China’s most popular fictional texts, especially among young people – and it has inspired competitive internet games that involve attacking and defending critical choke points.

    The next generation is being reared to be no less strategic in its thinking than the previous ones.

    Yet even analysts who fear the Chinese Communist Party’s global aspiration have underestimated some of its inroads. Western governments have been on to China’s hard-power geopolitical-choke-point strategy. But they are in my opinion only just beginning to appreciate its far more invasive soft-power strategy-and it might already be too late, as in my opinion two viruses have taken over the world. One, a minuscule creature called Covid-19, has killed more than one million people around the globe, but is slowing down sooner or later and will most likely be eliminated in the second half of 2021. Vaccines have already been developed against it and once inoculated, citizens of the world can expect to go on with their normal lives. It is the second virus which worries and troubles me far more. That of Chinese imperialism, which poses a long term and a much more potent and incurable threat to the world at large and for generations to come.

    China’s shadow looms large in my opinion already over the world!

    Not only geopolitically, but also in the economic and cultural realms, the Chinese are by no doubt attempting to remake the world as per their conception of a master-serf relationship. Though in international relations, politics, economies and culture are interrelated, it is important to discuss them separately in order to bring out the nuances of Chinese imperialism.

    The age of colonization and imperialism I thought ended for good in the wake of the breakup and reordering of the international order. This order was based on liberal principles of free trade, respect for international law, prevalence of democratic norms and a security architecture underlined by the presence of two superpowers.

    Intra and inter country disputes did happen but they were generally localized at best or limited to particular regions.

    So the question remains, “What happened to the World?”

    It is only with the entry of China on the world stage in force that global disruptions have in my opinion started to manifest themselves brutally.

    The 2008 financial crisis decimated economies of the West and the East Asian Tigers but China emerged unscathed, riding on success of its impervious wall which prevented and still prevents foreign investments unless approved by the Big Brother Xi. China by then had established mass manufacturing bases in major parts of the country and unimpeded by human rights or basic minimum wages, yoked its population to work tirelessly. The end result: China now mass produces everything from a needle to an airplane.

    This has enable it to dump its produce on other countries initially through the pretensions of free trade (now censored by the World Trade Organization) and later through the mega-ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). BRI has in my opinion been used by China to weasel its way through national sovereignties like a hot knife through butter. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are best examples of what international observers euphemistically call “Debt Trap Diplomacy” but in reality is a gross usurpation of national authority. China’s tentacles, unlike Covid-19’s, reach far and wide. In fact, Europe faces a double whammy of being repeatedly hit by the corona-virus and China, almost simultaneously with access to the Piraeus port of Greece, started dumping products of all kinds in the European Common Market System. Italy’s untimely submission to Covid-19 was also made possible due to its proximity to the Chinese trading system. After all, Covid-19 and China have become synonymous with each other. In terms of politics, China has undertaken a multipronged attack across international borders of many countries.

    India has been the first to bear the brunt of Chinese Janus-faced policies of illegal aggression on one hand, while calling for normalization of trade and other relations on the other. However India is not the only one. The US faces a challenge of another kind. There is in my opinion a real threat of China’s disinformation campaign affecting the outcome of the US elections in November.

    China’s Thousand Talents Program has already ensured massive theft of data and exclusive technology from the US, the latest being Zhengdong Cheng of College Station, Texas who has been charged with making false statements and hiding his affiliations to the PLA. With Taiwan, China is playing the waiting game, pushing its ships and jets closer to the island nation with every passing week under the grab of exercises. Hong Kong for all matters has stopped existing as an autonomous region with only its nomenclature remaining unchanged.

    China has also been active on the cultural front. The various China Study or Culture Centers opened in a number of countries act as both espionage and propaganda centers. There is a proactive effort to disseminate Xi Jinping. Thought, a constricting ideology that aims to cement the Chinese President as the center of China’s absurdist and all encompassing universe.

    Covid-19 is something that will ultimately have a cure. As it is, its lethality is very limited. However, the in my opinion bigger virus of Chinese Communist Party keeps growing potent everyday and to counter it, the entire world needs to come together. The vaccination to get rid of the Chinese Communist virus, though much more painful than the Covid-19 affliction, will have to be undertaken by all government leaders around the world who believe in democracy and fair trade as well as the respect for international law.