Here’s the last line of this op-ed from The Wall Street Journal on May 1.
“The point would be to pair economic concerns with national-security aims, protect intellectual property, and ensure reliable access to public-health goods—so the U.S. is no longer at the mercy of Beijing for supplies in a pandemic.”
Paula J. Dobriansky is a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center and a former undersecretary of state for global affairs (2001-2009).
Her very short editorial says everything that needs to be said about what we may have finally learned about the People’s Republic of China. The PRC is not our ally. Thinking that trade deals will somehow make the PRC behave like a partner nation is absurd. It is time that the United States begin to treat China like it treated the Soviet Union during the Cold War because the mainland Chinese are every bit as formidable an enemy as the Soviets ever were. And they hold a lot more of our debt, make a lot more of the cheap stuff we depend upon (e.g., PPE), and have been placed into a critical position in the supply chain due to their inexpensive labor.
Now the United States and most of the west including Japan and Australia have seen those supply lines interrupted. This can be remedied and the time is now.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan wants Japanese companies to move their suppliers to other countries in Southeast Asia. America should do this too and Vietnam is an ideal place to which to move sources of production away from China. Abe started a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between Japan, Australia, India and the United States. This ought to be expanded to include countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. India is another place where American manufacturing can move away from China.
It is critically important that the United States stop its dependence on the PRC for anything—goods, raw materials, pharmaceuticals, cash and people. The latter may be very painful to academia where thousands of Chinese nationals are staffing laboratories and graduate programs all over the United States, but is this good for us? Some will say it is because Americans are not gravitating to the STEM disciplines and that foreign labor is essential for progress. Come on. We can do better than to depend on the population of an enemy that pilfers our intellectual property and gifts us with a lethal virus to boot.
Nothing here has anything to do with Chinese Americans or Chinese citizens who legally seek citizenship here. They ought to be welcomed if they want to become Americans. In fact, that path ought to be made easier not harder for PRC residents who wish to immigrate to America.
But the United States needs to take a respite and go on a diet from the need for Chinese goods, services and money. The PRC is an unreliable partner and not part of the family of nations as their behavior with regard to the Wuhan virus has demonstrated. They still have not owned up to their responsibility or even offered to make restitution to the rest of the world. They are also running concentration camps incarcerating their Muslim citizens. They are clearly about to take Hong Kong from its status as part of “one country, two systems” to one country, one system and that country is China.
The United States needs to take the lead in isolating the PRC from the rest of the civilized world until its behavior is in line with that of a fellow national entity in the hall of nations. It’s not there yet and this virus proved it. We should need no more persuading. Move the supply lines elsewhere before it’s too late. It is not America Firstism to move those supply lines to Vietnam or India. It’s good business sense and keeps our supply lines free of political attack or blackmail.
We are going to have to deal with China from a position of strength. That strength starts by cutting ourselves free of dependence upon the Chinese Communist Party. Now.
And if you don’t believe me, how about believing John Bolton, which is more than President Trump did.