In a recent webinar with the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), Dr. John Lenczowski served as a panelist to discuss “China and COVID-19, What’s Next for America?”
During his time speaking, Dr. Lenczowski called attention to the Cold War-style strategy and policies that China has been pursuing for the last 30 years. Visible elements of this strategy include Chinese military build-up, the political neutralization of American businesses through Chinese funding, and infiltration into American think-tanks and academia by Chinese interests and money. Dr. Lenczowski also noted that, unlike the U.S.S.R., China effectively uses all the instruments of power at its disposal as the world enters a new Cold War. China is much more effective at using economic tools of statecraft, for example, its mercantilist policies that unfavorably affect American businesses.
The coronavirus pandemic and China’s response to it, Dr. Lenczowski said, has woken Americans up to threat the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) poses to the West and to the Chinese citizens. The CCP’s treatment of its own people is one of the key factors in determining its relations with the West. CCP control of the means of communication within China allows the CCP to assure either the loyalty or submission of hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens. Until this loyalty and submission to the CCP is overturned, China will likely not be able to have peaceful relations with the West. To help achieve this, Dr. Lenczowski called for similar initiatives to Radio Free Europe and Voice of America that were so effective at fomenting the revolutions that brought the Soviet Empire down.
China controls the narrative not only in China, according to Dr Lenczowski, but it also steers the narrative in the U.S. and the West. Through its tight control over research and study visas, the CCP locks foreign Sinologists critical of the CCP out of China, denying them access that would be vital for their research. This leads to a certain corruption of U.S. academia focused on China, culminating in the “four taboos” that the CCP indirectly prevents academics from writing on: Chinese military build-up, Chinese human rights violations, Chinese espionage, and Chinese active measures such as Chinese disinformation campaigns and covert actions.
Dr. Lenczowski believes that China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its spreading of misinformation in America illustrate these points. As such, he argues that, going forward, the U.S. should begin to disengage with China, claiming that free trade and amicable relations cannot continue with a nation that does not play by the rules.
The panel was moderated by Kevin Roberts, Executive Director of TPPF. Other panelists included Hon. Chuck DeVore of TPPF, Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute, and Captain James Fanell, USN Ret., former Director of Intelligence and Information Operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.