How West can resist ‘long arm’ of China’s sharp power


China, not Russia, is the biggest threat to the United States in the decades to come, according to former secretary of defense Robert Gates who served the previous two U.S. presidents.

“We are engaged at this point in a rivalry that has the potential to last as long as the Cold War, but in my view, frankly, against a much more capable adversary than the USSR,” said Robert Gates. “We’re dealing with a country that is not just militarily powerful, as was the Soviet Union, but economically powerful and has a message that they can get things done.”

“China is on a path to establishing the most effective authoritarian government the world has ever seen using artificial technology and a variety of other tools at their beck and call,” he said.

“Sadly, in the eyes of the rest of the world China is seen as dynamic, moving forward, aggressive, a lot of money to spend, a lot of money to invest,” Gates added. “The United States is seen as paralyzed politically, withdrawing from global leadership and is in decline.”

Chinese technology giant Huawei is scrambling to salvage its reputation in another country where growing worries over spying and security could hurt its chances at a big chunk of business, the New York Times reports:

In an unusual letter to politicians in Australia made public this week, Huawei defended its status as a longtime supplier of networking gear and other equipment to the country’s biggest telecommunications companies. The letter came after news reports that Australian politicians were likely to shut the firm out of a potentially lucrative contract to upgrade the nation’s mobile network over security concerns. It also follows growing concerns among Australian leaders about Chinese influence in the country. Banning the company from bidding on fifth-generation, or 5G, telecom networks would be “ill-informed” and “not based on facts,” Huawei said in its letter.

Australian Labor backbencher Michael Danby (right and below) said Huawei must be blocked from the 5G network and rejected the company’s assertion it is more of a cooperative than a state-owned enterprise.

“On matters like the electronic spine of Australia, the new 5G network which will control the internet of things — automatically driven cars, lifts, medical technology — I don’t think it’s appropriate to sell or allow a company like Huawei to participate.”

Beijing wants to wrest control of global cyber governance from the West’s market economies, analyst Samm Sacks writes for the Atlantic:

China, in other words, appears to be floating the first competitive alternative to the open internet—a model that it is steadily proliferating around the world. As that model spreads, whether through Beijing’s own efforts or through the model’s inherent appeal for certain developing countries with more similarities to China than the West, we cannot take for granted that the internet will remain a place of free expression where open markets can flourish.

China has become an Olympic powerhouse. But it has managed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup only once, notes University of Michigan professor Stefan Szymanski. China’s soccer troubles are a case study in the limits of authoritarianism, he writes for the Post.

Credit: Economist

The ruling Communist Party has allocated some 45bn yuan ($6.6bn) to foreign language media in its efforts to seize “discourse power” from the West, the Economist adds:

To ensure its grip on the message put out by its domestic and international broadcasting services, including the China Global Television Network, the government consolidated them in March into a single media group known as Voice of China. The reorganisation allows CGTN and the other services to retain their separate identities under a combined management controlled by the Communist Party’s Publicity Department, a powerful agency in charge of propaganda and media censorship.

It is essential to embrace the ideological dimension of the competition with China because democratic values have long represented an ideological and geopolitical advantage over authoritarian rivals, notes Johns Hopkins University professor Hal Brands:

Granted, there may be cases where solicitude for human rights and democracy cannot trump all other concerns. …But the U.S. and its partners can still highlight the authoritarian, brutal aspects of Chinese rule; they can publicly expose and constrain Chinese efforts to distort democratic debate within their own societies; they can, in many cases, provide moral and material support to democratic actors in countries where democratic governance is either in danger or struggling to take hold.

“This is not Wilsonianism run amok,” he adds. “It is good practice in dealing with an authoritarian challenger that is not shying away from ideological competition.”

Exiled Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao (right) is calling attention to the “long arm” of China’s global influence operations, which have led to increasing self-censorship on the part of Western companies, notes China Digital Times. Edward Wong at The New York Times reports:

First, there was the hotel chain Marriott International, which apologized to the Chinese government in January for having sent out a customer survey listing Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and the self-governing island of Taiwan as separate territories, a violation of the Communist Party canon that raised the ire of some Chinese citizens. Then there was Gap Inc., which posted a message to the Chinese apologizing for a T-shirt with a map of China that ignited similar criticism. And in May, Air Canada on its website began listing Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, as a part of Communist-ruled China, which the Taiwanese reject.

TV show host John Oliver (above) highlighted China’s authoritarian bent under President Xi Jinping by outlining the leader’s human rights abuses and crackdown on citizen dissent, Rolling Stone adds.

“The era of ‘hide and bide’ is over, and the era of ‘do as we say’ may be dawning,” said Oliver on ‘Last Week Tonight.’ “Because China has significant economic leverage, and it has been using that to silence criticism, even when criticism is very much warranted.”


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