On September 30th, the House of Representatives China Task Force (CTF) and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released reports regarding the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) threat to American power. The reports warn the American government that if profound intelligence and foreign policy realignment towards China is not implemented immediately, China will overcome the United States (US) as the global leader. Both reports are partisan; the CTF task force is made up entirely of Republicans and the House Permanent Select Committee of Democrats. Despite a lack of bipartisanship, both reports are significantly similar in their warnings and suggestions.
The CTF report points out six sectors of American society and government under attack by Chinese influence. The sectors include ideology, supply chain security, national security, technology, economic and energy, and competitiveness. The CTF suggestions to counteract these threats include evaluating CCP crimes against Uyghurs, implementing sanctions in response to the CCP’s Hong Kong shut down, requiring transparency within the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO), and working to deepen American trade ties with Taiwan.
Both reports highlight the failure of prior American relations with the PRC, admitting that America overlooked China’s many violations of international law due to a disillusioned belief that as American-Chinese relations grew closer the PRC would conform to the liberal international order. However, the reports conclude this has not happened and is not expected to happen, resulting in a dual call from both the CTF and the House of Representatives for immediate action to counter the further expansion of Chinese power.
Chinese ideological, military, economic, political, and intelligence threats against the West have significantly accelerated over the past two decades. The House of Representative report states that “the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has increasingly sought to revise the international order and global norms in a way that furthers its own strategic interests and undermines those of the United States specifically, and the West generally.” The House report points to Chinese military expansion and militarization of the South China Sea as expansions of power that can no longer be tolerated by the American government and international community. Moreover, the CTF report names and shames the PRC for multiple international treaty and human rights violations, including the dismantling of “Hong Kong’s civil liberties; continued its oppression of ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs and Tibetans; increased its military buildup, conducted increasingly belligerent provocations, and violated other nations’ sovereignty at sea; engaged in fatal skirmishes to conduct a land-grab on the Indian border; and asserted new territorial claims over Bhutan.”
Both reports reflect a significant shift in American relations with the PRC; however, the transition towards intolerance on China’s vast amount of international law violations is significantly outdated. Since the inception of the PCR, it has been widely known that the state is extraordinarily authoritarian and strongly opposed to capitalist and Western culture. As such, China has voluntarily labeled itself as an adversary to the new world order for decades. The CCP views capitalism as a method of Western influence that works to actively undermine its domestic rule. Although the PCR has adopted capitalism, resulting in a spur of economic growth that greatly enhanced China’s position on the world stage, the CCP continues to deny attachment to the capitalist system, considering it an order that is doomed to fail.
Instead, China has relied on authoritarian rule and communist ideology throughout the development of its modern state. Over the past century, historical experience has revealed that most communist state structures have repeatedly proven problematic within the international system. The CTF report states, “every time Marxism-Leninism, or Communism, has been instituted as a system of national government, it has led to totalitarianism and mass murder, from the Soviet Union, to the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, to North Korea.” During the PRC’s global rise in the second half of the 20th century, the American government overlooked its unprecedented ability to influence China’s development towards a primarily democratic and liberal path, instead blindly relying on China to follow its lead. It is only now after the PCR has engaged in foreign propaganda, cyberattacks, human rights violations, and international treaty violations to a nearly insurmountable degree that America chooses to change its foreign relations method with the state.
Recently, the CCP has committed egregious acts against the Uyghurs community that the American government has yet to label a genocide. Such atrocities include the suppression of Uyghur culture and forced sterilization of the community. The latter classifies it as genocide as sterilization is a means of ending a specific racial group from further populating. The CTF identifies this as a suggestion; however, action against this needs to go beyond merely identifying it as genocide. The US and the international community as a whole need to enact sanctions, investigations, and hold those responsible for orchestrating the Uyghur genocide accountable through legal means if the PRC continues to refuse to do so itself.
Additionally, the loss of vital American intelligence in China offers a significant advantage to China. Over the past two decades, China has been expanding its intelligence capabilities while keeping its domestic information opaque to US leaders’ frustration. The weakness of American intelligence on the PRC is primarily at the fault of the Americans themselves. Following 9/11, American intelligence was crafted to focus on counterterrorism means concerning homeland security. However, as China continues to increase its power, both regionally and globally, the intelligence community needs to adapt to the changing international order. With more robust intelligence capabilities, the atrocities against the Uyghur community could have been identified and acted against earlier, possibly saving countless Uyghurs from further persecution. A prime method to increase American intelligence capabilities is to allow freer information flow between intelligence agencies and change American intelligence outlook on china. The PRC threatens America and the global order not only militarily, but also economically, technologically, health care wise, and in counterintelligence.
Within the context of Covid-19, it is unacceptable for the originating state of the virus to be capable of withholding valuable information regarding the instigating outbreak of the virus. The PRC has silenced doctors, withheld information from the WHO, and is thought to have altered infection numbers to manipulate the global community. International organizations such as the UN and WHO should have the complete support of member states in prohibiting such behaviors from happening. Both reports agree to this point, with the Select Committee on Intelligence stating, “Beijing’s complicity in stopping scientific inquiries into the origin of the virus, and its disdain for accountability, require a strong U.S. response.”
However, America must be careful not to push full blame for the severity of the pandemic onto China. The rapid spread of Coronavirus in the United States is primarily related to the ineffective privatized healthcare system in America and widespread denial, conspiracies, and confusion over the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that the American death rate from Covid-19 has surpassed 200,000, it is within America’s best interest to work diplomatically with China over pandemic investigation rather than using them as a scapegoat for domestic dissatisfaction over pandemic response. If the Chinese government is unwilling to cooperate with America and the international community regarding the pandemic, strengthening American intelligence within China could be highly beneficial.
Overall, both the House of Representatives Report and the CTF report are impressive in their suggestions, although their timing is far overdue. America and the international community should support a harsher stance against China regarding international law violations and pandemic investigation. China’s human rights violations in Hong Kong and the Uyghur community cannot go unpunished without precedent for international tolerance to atrocities, authoritarianism, and aggression being furthered.