The Chinese have a very long memory. And a strong sense of history.
If only Americans possessed both, for we would be able far better to understand the enormous consequences of the lethal drug abuse harming America from the massive quantities of death-dealing fentanyl being smuggled into our country, with its origins often a Chinese lab.
The Chinese know full well that a society's addiction to drugs can unravel a proud nation, stripping away its very sovereignty. When opium was brought to China in the 1700s, the British quickly used the drug as a means of gaining an economic advantage over its new trading partner. The addiction to the drug was so explosive that the Chinese emperor eventually sought to ban it. When his military destroyed warehouses full of the drug, the British responded with a crushing naval attack that became known as a series of Opium Wars.
Other Western nations followed Britain's lead, but it was England that forced a humiliating treaty on the Chinese, and evidently that cause-and-effect has never been forgotten by today's Chinese rulers.
So as a leading global manufacturer of fentanyl, China is unique in appreciating just how destabilizing such a drug can be to a nation.
In fact, this very issue was explored during a recent interview with the Communist Chinese Ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, who was quick to remind Newsweek that China knows full well the devastating impact of illicit drugs. Not surprisingly, he was quick to deny any suggestion their manufacturing of fentanyl was their way of "returning the favor" to Western nations.
He told the reporter that during the 18th and 19th Centuries, "China decided to ban the material to save its population and economy, the British launched the Opium War, which started a century of humiliation for China, marked by a slate of unequal treaties and waves of Western aggressions. The repercussions of history are felt even today. With such searing pains in our national memory, China holds an understandably stronger antipathy for narcotics than any other country, as displayed in its zero-tolerance attitude towards all narcotic drugs, as well as stringent control and tough punishment measures. Thanks to these efforts, narcotics are not endemic in China."
One might suggest that the Ambassador has revealed more than he intended.
China said in word and deed that they intend to recapture what they view as their historic role as a global superpower. Using military force might seem appealing, but as Vladimir Putin's blunder in Ukraine has demonstrated, things do not always go as planned. By introducing destabilizing addictive drugs, coupled with alliances with mega-billionaires who know no allegiance to a nation but, rather, to their own profits, China could simply wait for events to play out.
As Qin observed in his interview, China's descent into nationwide addiction more than two hundred years ago led to "a century of humiliation..." That experience is apparently seared into their national consciousness: they know full well the power of addiction as a national weapon. With that appreciation, the drug dealers and criminal middlemen who peddle the fentanyl may very well be just someone's useful soldiers in a far larger scheme of redefining who will be the dominant global power for the rest of this century.
Lawrence Kadish serves on the Board of Governors of Gatestone Institute.