As Americans see the large number of container ships waiting off the West Coast to unload cargo, they realize that much of the material on those ships comes from China. The reasonable question they are increasingly asking is, why is America doing business with a country that our own government says practices genocide and steals U.S. intellectual property and jobs? Pictured: Container ships wait offshore for entry to the Port of Los Angeles on October 6, 2021. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
According to the Chinese calendar, 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. 2022 is the year where America finally goes big against China. China will also go big against the U.S. and Taiwan. Here are the developments that will push America to confront China's malign and dangerous behavior and, in an upcoming article, those that will push China to go big.
Most likely, 2022 will finally be the wake-up call Americans need. For too long, American government and business leaders have sat quietly and allowed China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to run roughshod over our nation and our values. In 2001, politicians such as President George W. Bush welcomed China into the World Trade Organization and promised that not only would it benefit global trade, but strengthen China's adherence to the rule of law and that China would "introduce certain civil reforms." At this point, it is clear that things have not turned out quite that way.
There are signs that Americans are finally waking-up to the multitude of threats emanating from China. Americans are struggling through the omicron wave and year three of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. By covering up the human-to-human transmissibility of the virus, China has already killed more than 800,000 of our fellow countrymen. Americans are frustrated and angry that instead of being forthcoming about the virus, China's regime hid it while hoarding medical supplies and personal protective equipment, and insisting that their citizens travel and spread the virus abroad. More and more of Americans' anger is being targeted towards the Chinese Communist Party, which has attempted to deflect blame and make baseless accusations against America and the West. New revelations about the CCP's complicity in the global spread of the virus can only worsen the situation.
A July 2021 poll by Harvard and Politico shows that a majority of Americans, including majorities of both Republicans and Democrats, believe that the virus escaped, probably accidentally, from a Chinese laboratory. In March 2020, only 29% of Americans had believed this. While the U.S. is deeply divided politically on most issues, the bipartisan agreement that a Chinese government laboratory with military ties is responsible for the COVID pandemic demonstrates that on the most serious issue impacting America, political partisans on both sides of the aisle see the CCP as the root cause of the catastrophe that, more than two years later, is still devastating their lives.
In addition, both Republicans and Democrats believe, after watching China's repeated refusal (eg: here and here) to allow any investigation into the origins of its virus, that China's regime has been less than transparent in sharing what it knew -- and knows -- about the virus. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., stated:
"Beijing's continued obstruction of a transparent, comprehensive examination of the relevant facts and data about the source of the coronavirus can only delay the vital work ..."
The White House and Republican House members also have called jointly for more transparency and sharing of information -- further indicating bipartisan agreement about the lack of transparency by the Chinese government.
As Americans see the large number of container ships waiting off the West Coast to unload cargo, they realize that much of the material on those ships comes from China. The reasonable question they are increasingly asking is, why is America doing business with a country that our own government says practices genocide and steals U.S. intellectual property and jobs?
China's standing in the U.S. is eroding rapidly, American companies are moving out of China, and in the upcoming election year, China will be a central focus of the political landscape. From 2020 to 2021 the number of Americans who see China as the greatest threat to America doubled, from 22% to 45%. A whopping 63% of Americans see China's economic power as a threat. In 2018, that number was only 40%. As these views span the American political spectrum, it is worth noting that US President Joe Biden, right before Christmas, signed into law the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, approved by a voice vote in the Senate and by a 428-to-1 margin in the House. This law will prevent the importation of goods and products produced in China's Xinjiang region unless it can be proved they were not made with forced labor.
American politicians will not be the only target of the American public. They also will target American companies that worship at the altar of sales and profits from China. They will demand that companies respond to the Chinese Communist Party's genocide in Xinjiang, political repression in Hong Kong, and threats against Taiwan.
American politicians typically lag behind where the American people are. America's politicians will therefore need to go big against China or in November of 2022, their constituents will send them home. Politicians will go big as they seek to one-up each other as to who is the strongest against China, both through their rhetoric and votes on legislation that confront China's dysfunctional behavior. President Donald Trump and the America First agenda may have triggered much of this shift the last few years, but both Republicans and Democrats will embrace it in 2022. In the Year of the Tiger, America will go big against China.
Peter Hoekstra was US Ambassador to the Netherlands during the Trump administration. He served 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the second district of Michigan and served as Chairman and Ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. He is currently Chairman of the Center for Security Policy Board of Advisors, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.