While the eyes of the world remain firmly focused on eastern Europe and the very real prospect of a major conventional war between Russia and Ukraine brought about by Putin’s neo-tsarists ambitions, let us not forget about the far eastern terminus of the anti-Western, anti-democratic and anti-liberal axis of despots. Communist China has already swallowed up Hong Kong and continues to hunger after Taiwan. It’s overarching objective, however, is the new international order that’s more in accordance with the authoritarian, centralist ethos of the Chinese state. This is a much more ambitious plan that Russia’s, whose designs are nowadays shorn of ideological zeal.
Yet for all the troublesome aspects of the Chinese regime – and the past two years have been particularly revealing to those who haven’t been paying attention before – large sections of the Western elites continue to be in thrall of Beijing. Whether it’s financial self-interest or more nefarious fascination, this is a concerning state of affairs. Arguably, it also makes China more dangerous than the Soviet Union ever was; China is infinitely wealthier and thus has far more resources to channel into any objective, and its political system, which combines unashamed wealth-creation with tight social control, is far more appealing that the austere and clearly under-performing Soviet communism ever was.
There are three, often overlapping, sections of the Western political and economic establishment that are particularly inclined to look favourably towards the east – plutocrats, technocrats and wokeocrats. Beijing uses the combination of a carrot of dollars and attention and flattery and a stick of racism to keep them in line and coming back from more. All three groups pose a long-term danger both to their own states as well as to the international system, blinded as they are to China’s global ambitions and its hostility to all our core values (charitably assuming they don’t actually believe that the future belongs to China and are therefore acting accordingly in advance).
Let us look in turn at all three groups of Xicophants and the reasons for their fatal attraction to what is the world’s most successful criminal syndicate.
Firstly, money talks. This is a bi-partisan motivation: wherever you are on the political spectrum, the opportunity to make money off China or in China is a big motivator to hug the big panda. China, after all, is a huge and increasingly sophisticated market, where access depends entirely on how you are perceived by the Chinese Communist Party. Hence it is in your financial interest to at the very least shut up and not rock the boat, if not actively praise and work for international “friendship and cooperation”. This is why Hollywood is now tailoring and self-censoring their products for the CCP approval and sport franchises clamp down on any criticism of China’s dictatorship and human right abuses, as Bill Maher reminds us below. And never mind the entanglement of our manufacturing and professional services sectors in the Chinese supply chain, so starkly brought to light during the past two years of the pandemic. For everyone, from big business to former politicians on the make, there are literally hundreds of billions of reasons to play footise with the regime that is avowedly hostile to all the Western values and is engaged is mass espionage and IP theft, combined with other forms of political, cultural and economic subversion. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you; you just delude yourself that over time the hand will become gentler or convince yourself that in any case the hand is the future, so instead you just orderly manage own decline.
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) February 19, 2022
Secondly, China is every technocrat’s wet dream. Things get done there. Big things. And quickly. No distractions and roadblocks like the pesky parliamentary system, democracy or public opinion. If the wise ones in charge think something is important, it happens, whether it’s a high speed rail network, giant solar farms, or some other piece of infrastructure that rarely spring up in the West because governments have a short horizon and projects get mired in opposition from vested interests and the public which is usually too stupid to know what’s good for them and their nation. Hence, we have Justin Trudeau confessing eight years ago that “There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China. Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime.” Or the establishment’s favourite pundit Thomas Friedman: “One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.” (to be fair, Friedman is now less rosy about China under Xi than under Hu, but neither has been a friend of democracy, freedom or human rights.) Our elites also see themselves as a “reasonably enlightened group of people” (actually, strike out the unnecessary – for them – qualifier “reasonably”), but unlike the Chinese Communist Party they remain eternally frustrated by the citizenry’s reluctance to universally acknowledge and kowtow to their brilliance as well as the inability to smoothly carry out their superior vision for their nations and the world in general. If only we could all be like the 1.4 billion Chinese: docile, obedient, respectful, neither seen nor heard, an army of ants dutifully implementing their betters’ plans.
Which brings us to the last group.
Thirdly, China’s micromanagement of its population is something the progressive elites would love to do if, again, they did not have to bother with details like constitutions and the rule of law, human rights, democratic politics, independent judiciary and free media, and the popular unrest. Take the “social credit system”. In democracy, people rate their government; in autocracy the government rates its people. The combined powers of state surveillance and state control over the society and the economy mean the Chinese government can successfully encourage behaviours it considers desirable and discourage what it doesn’t, rewarding the former and punishing the latter. The good behaviour can be as innocuous as paying your tax on time but can extend to just about anything else, including not expressing any form of dissent. Citizens whose social, economic and political “sins” accumulate, find themselves unable to access certain services, travel, purchase some products, and engage in various activities. The extrajudicial freezing of bank accounts now taking place in Canada is a rather extreme example of this sort of system in action. You financially support political protests? Congratulations, you’re now broke. The vaccination mandates that deny people opportunities to work, travel and socialise are another (regardless of how well intentioned they might be). Now imagine “social credit” outside of emergency situations like the Freedom Convoy or COVID. Too many carbon emissions? That’s a minus. Spreading “misinformation” on social media? That’s another one. “Transphobia” is making you oppose biological males competing against women in sports? A thoughtcrime! The woke get rewarded and thrive, the deplorables become pariahs, consigned to a second class citizenship. Now tell me with a straight face that the Trudeaus, Arderns and Macrons of this world wouldn’t love to have this sort of power over their societies – coincidentally, with an enthusiastic support of big businesses and other influential institutions, now so thoroughly colonised by the woke cohorts of Gen Y.
If you are interested to find out more about how tempting Beijing’s siren song has been, I recommend Clive Hamilton’s two tomes as well as Peter Schweizer’s current bestseller “Red Handed”. While it might be too broad a brush to describe our elites as a wholly-owned subsidiary of CCP, too many for all intents and purposes are. Let’s hope it’s not fatal.