July 24, 2020

Chinese Consulate Closed

“China ordered the United States on Friday to close its consulate in the western city of Chengdu… The move was a response to the Trump administration’s order this week for Beijing to close its consulate in Houston after Washington accused Chinese agents of trying to steal medical and other research in Texas.” AP News

“The Chinese consulate in San Francisco is harboring a Chinese researcher who lied about her military background, the Justice Department said Thursday as it announced charges against that scientist and three others accused of concealing their government ties.” AP News

“The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday indicted two Chinese nationals over their role in what the agency called a decade-long cyber espionage campaign that targeted defense contractors, COVID researchers and hundreds of other victims worldwide.” Reuters

Late last month, the Associated Press reported that “The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is skeptical of the closure, arguing that it will likely be counterproductive and appears to be motivated by domestic politics.

“Mr. Trump’s crusade… would be more plausible if it did not represent an abrupt, election-season U-turn. Until March, Mr. Trump was publicly praising Mr. Xi as a great leader, including in his response to the coronavirus. In private, Mr. Trump reportedly begged the Chinese ruler for help with his reelection campaign while approving of Mr. Xi’s crackdowns in Hong Kong and on the Uighurs of Xinjiang province. In the trade deal he struck with Mr. Xi in January, Mr. Trump gave up demands for meaningful reforms in China’s trade practices in pursuit of pre-election soybean purchases from Midwestern farmers…

“The president has since come to see greater electoral benefit in blaming Beijing for the spread of covid-19 while portraying opponent Joe Biden as a Chinese puppet… U.S. officials are describing the Houston consulate as a nest of espionage activities, though they have offered no evidence to back that up… Most Chinese hacking and spying is directed from China, not Houston.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“Jeff Moon, a former assistant US trade representative for China, noted the State Department said the Houston order was a response to Chinese intellectual property theft and said that raised questions about why only one consulate was targeted. ‘If that were the real reason, the US would close the San Francisco consulate, which covers Silicon Valley,’ said Moon, who was among those who suggested politics might be at work…

“Danny Russell, the former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs who left the department in 2017, said that when he was at State and the National Security Council, ‘the Chinese consulate in Houston did not have a particular reputation as an acute vector of espionage… It is very hard for me to figure out what China could do uniquely from its consulate in Houston that it could not equally well do from its consulates in Boston, LA, or NY, from the embassy in DC or through non-official cover… It is inconceivable that shutting down a consulate will stop espionage.’”
Nicole Gaouette, Vivian Salama and Kylie Atwood, CNN

Some argue that “The [Trump] administration and its allies have a point: Experts say the consulate was used to spy on the oil industry. ‘Several incidents involving international energy companies, engineering consultants and sub-contractors working for Vietnam can be traced to its operatives,’ Bill Hayton, a China expert at the Chatham House think tank in the UK, tweeted on Wednesday. Houston, after all, is the American epicenter of the oil sector…

“[But] Not arresting the accused and shutting the entire consulate down instead will cause ‘a further downturn of the bilateral business and people-to-people relations between the two countries, which have traditionally provided some ballast in the relationship when government-to-government relations were strained,’ said USIP’s Stokes.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In this case, at a time when U.S. journalists have already been kicked out of China due to tit-for-tat restrictions on the media, the United States has far less insight into China’s authoritarian system than China does into the United States’ democratic system. As a result, a tit-for-tat closure of consulates may hurt the United States’ ‘eyes and ears’ more than China’s — and do little to address Chinese intellectual property theft… [furthermore] Fewer on-the-ground contacts and channels reduce the ways China and the United States can communicate and defuse friction — or worse, a crisis.”
Jessica Chen Weiss and Elizabeth N. Saunders, Washington Post

Regarding the Uighur population, “In Xinjiang, the CCP has constructed the largest concentration camp system the world has seen since the Nazi regime—one that only continues to expand, to fracture more families, to suffocate and smother more ethnic and religious minorities, and to accelerate the wholesale elimination of an entire people…

“It’s a ripe time for the left to reclaim its mantle of humanitarianism, and its tradition of bearing witness to crimes against humanity, and to help organize both domestic and international campaigns to aid in both efforts… As Franco-British writer Ben Judah recently said, ‘History will judge us by what we said and didn’t say about Xinjiang.’ He’s exactly right. And this makes the left’s relative silence, and willingness to cede policy ground to the right, that much more jarring. There’s still a chance, and increasing space, for that to change. But there’s only so much time left—for a change in policy, and, if the CCP has its way, for Uighurs on this earth.”
Casey Michel, The New Republic

From the Right

The right supports the closure as long overdue and calls for tough action to confront China.

The right supports the closure as long overdue and calls for tough action to confront China.

Trump intends “to send a message to China that the US will not sit quietly while hostile intelligence services attempt to plunder US assets and invade our computer systems. Well, not any more, anyway; China has spent the last decade-plus plundering US government systems such as OPM and economic targets like Equifax without any significant public penalty. The State Department’s action is long overdue…

“Is this driven in part by politics? Probably, but it might be better to say that politics drove Trump’s earlier reluctance to stick with get-tough policies. The trade war on China hurt economic growth, although we did so well in other ways that it was easy to overlook. After COVID-19 and the shutdowns, though, economic war with China became much easier, both economically and politically. China’s continuing espionage — industrial and otherwise — is too significant and blatant now to ignore.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“The U.S. relationship with a revisionist and possibly revolutionary neocommunist China can’t simply be business as usual. Countries like China—and Russia—that claim they are actively seeking to undermine U.S. interests and counter American values need to be taken at their word… China’s attempts to achieve technological supremacy through theft and illegal behavior pose direct security threats to other countries. These dangers must be addressed, even at significant political and economic cost…

“And while repression is nothing new in China, the extraordinary measures the Communist Party uses against ethnic and religious minorities require an international response. There are many elements of Beijing’s governance that Americans don’t like, but we don’t insist that Chinese practice conform to our ways to have normal relations. The deliberate destruction of ethnic cultures and religious communities, however, crosses a line that the U.S. cannot ignore.”
Walter Russell Mead, Wall Street Journal

“Beijing continues to explain the camps and its mass surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang as part of a counterterrorism campaign, but it still fails to justify the mandatory sterilization and birth-control policy. The CCP might not be swayed by what Washington and London think, but it still remains sensitive to its image around the world, and official determinations by Western governments that genocide is taking place would be a significant diplomatic and strategic setback for Beijing…

“The latest evidence out of Xinjiang has only led to closer cooperation on responding to China, and hopefully to more robust human-rights diligence by retailers involved in Uighur forced-labor supply chains. And although these allegations won’t lead developing countries in Beijing’s orbit to end their infrastructure partnerships, better that it be widely known that these governments deliberately overlook, and in some cases endorse, a genocide, not the benign counterterrorism measures that Beijing claims its Xinjiang policies to be.”
Jimmy Quinn, National Review

The private sector must do its part, particularly in the face of reports that Uighurs were transferred from concentration camps to factories that produce goods for dozens of global brands, including Apple and Nike. At a time when the U.S. government, shareholders, and customers are monitoring corporations’ willingness to align their practices with social-justice concerns, CEOs must seriously consider transitioning their supply chains out of China.”
Craig Singleton, Washington Examiner

“If you ever wondered how so much of the world stayed silent as Hitler began to exterminate the Jews, you don't have to wonder anymore. Every outlandish fear telegraphed by feminists and Muslim advocates opposing Israel is happening right now to Muslim women in China, and somehow, the most vocal self-described proponents of human rights are silent… One million Muslims have been corralled into concentration camps, and yet the U.N. Human Rights Council reserves its ire for Israel…

“Are the systemic rapes of Uighur women less offensive because they're half a planet away? Are children separated from their parents by the state less offensive because they're the wrong sort of minority? Or is it because intersectionality has broken the morality of ‘human rights’ movements to the point that it's impossible to admit that a leftist, nonwhite government is enacting the exact sort of anti-Muslim, racist, sexist genocide that the wokes only thought conservative Christians would ever think of carrying out?”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.