Code Pink, among the looniest groups on the far left, last week attempted to disrupt a hearing of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Protestors held up signs and wore t-shirts reading: "China is not our enemy."
I'm pretty sure committee members don't disagree. The problem, which Code Pinkies can't see through their rose-colored glasses, is not that Americans regard China as our enemy but that China's Communist rulers regard America as their enemy.
The protestors also held up a sign – upside down as Rep. Mike Gallagher helpfully pointed out – reading: "Stop Asian Hate."
Hey, if Code Pink has a plan to stop the CCP's hateful persecution of Tibetans and Uyghurs, its hateful erasure of the freedoms once enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong, and its hateful threats to Taiwan, I'm confident House members would be all ears.
The select committee, established by new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is chaired by Mr. Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican who served seven years on active duty in the Marine Corps (including two deployments to Iraq) and holds a doctorate in international relations from Georgetown. (Full disclosure: He's also an alumnus of FDD's National Security Fellowship Program.)
The panel's formal name is the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. But in remarks opening this hearing, the first in a series, Mr. Gallagher offered a clarification: "We may call this a strategic competition, but it's not a polite tennis match."
He added: "This is an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century and the most fundamental freedoms are at stake. The CCP is laser-focused on its vision for the future; a world crowded with techno- totalitarian surveillance states where human rights are subordinate to the whims of the party."
Ranking member Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, pointed out that Beijing also "has pursued economic and trade policies that flat out undermine our economy."
Beijing's goal, added Matt Pottinger, is to achieve "global supremacy." Mr. Pottinger, a China expert who served as Deputy National Security Advisor in the Trump administration (and, again full disclosure, chairs the China Program at FDD) proved his point by quoting at length from statements made by CCP Chairman Xi Jinping.
"A collectivized world is just there, over [the horizon]," Mr. Xi said in a 2018 speech. "Whoever rejects that world will be rejected by the world."
Mr. Xi is determined to overturn "U.S. leadership around the globe," Mr. Pottinger explained. More than that, Mr. Xi "seeks to upend the concept of equal and sovereign states that emerged from Europe four centuries ago and is the cornerstone of international relations."
This transformation is not likely to come about peacefully. "Xi Jinping has emphasized that our state's ideology and social system are fundamentally incompatible with the West," reads a CCP textbook. "Xi has said 'This determines that our struggle and contest with Western countries is irreconcilable, so it will inevitably be long, complicated, and sometimes even very sharp.'"
Perhaps you're thinking that skilled diplomacy and "trust-building measures" would help. When he worked in the White House, Mr. Pottinger tried a kinder, gentler approach. He found that one "of the paradoxes of Marxist-Leninist dictatorships is that the more comfortable they are, the more aggressive they become. Gratuitous efforts to reassure Beijing are sure to be taken as signs of weakness."
For decades, American leaders convinced themselves that the CCP could become, if not an ally, at least a partner, a stakeholder in the "American-led word order," a productive member of what we like to imagine is the "international community."
We'd help China become prosperous and then prosperity would engender moderation. In a post-scarcity society, Chinese citizens would demand more freedoms and Chinese leaders – even hardcore Communists – would satisfy those demands out of self-interest, if not principle.
"Reality proved otherwise," observed Lt. Gen. (Ret.) H.R. McMaster (who served as National Security Advisor to President Trump and full disclosure once more, chairs the board of advisors of FDD's Center on Military and Political Power).
In government, academia, and on Wall Street, he said, leaders have been "slow to overcome wishful thinking and self-delusion concerning the intentions of the CCP. As a result, the United States and other nations across the free world underwrote the erosion of their competitive advantages through the transfer of capital and technology to a strategic competitor, determined to gain preponderant economic, and military power."
A biproduct of this approach: American administrations have downplayed or even ignored the CCP's mindbogglingly enormous thefts of American intellectual property, audacious espionage (by humans and balloons), the establishment of Confucius Institutes to spread propaganda and control Chinese students on American campuses, the replacement of international civil servants at the U.N. and elsewhere with Beijing's agents, the setting up of CCP police stations in American cities, the made-in-China fentanyl pouring over America's unsecured southern border, and of course the Occam's razor conclusion that the virus that emerged from Wuhan leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
So, as Lenin would say: What is to be done? The select committee is to "develop a plan of action to defend the American people, our economy and our values." That won't be easy. It will require policies and legislative priorities very different from those currently in place.
And while there is bipartisan agreement on the need to address the Chinese Communist threat, it's also true, as Chairman Gallagher noted, that the CCP "has found friends on Wall Street, in Fortune 500 C-suites, and on K Street who are ready and willing to oppose efforts to push back."
Objectively, they're aligned with Code Pink. Talk about strange bedfellows.