China

China’s Dream, America’s Nightmare

Talk of a future war between Beijing and Washington is obsolete. Communist China is already at war with the United States even if, to quote Churchill, “all the great responsible authorities” have stood “gazing” at this disturbing truth “with vacant eyes”. So writes Peter Schweizer in Blood Money: Why the Powerful Turn a Blind Eye while China Kills Americans. Supported by an extensive research team, Schweizer chronicles the key methods the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) employs to pursue “disintegration warfare” against the United States, from fuelling the fentanyl crisis and arming criminal gangs to commandeering Hollywood and maximising the deleterious effects of COVID-19 on the American population: “It is often said that China is in a cold war with America. The reality is far worse: the war is hot, and the body count is one-sided.”

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Disintegration warfare, writes Schweizer, is a modern-day adaptation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, holy writ for every leader of the People’s Republic of China from Mao to Xi, and since 2006 required reading for members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese strategist, suggested that “all warfare is based on deception” and “the supreme act of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. The strength of Blood Money is that it comprehensively outlines how Xi Jinping and his coterie are going about the business of stealthily disintegrating the one power standing in the way of the Middle Kingdom resuming its place as the dominant force in the world. The mighty United States must, too, become a tributary state of China, but for that to occur America must be broken and defeated, preferably “without fighting” back or in any way defending itself.

Blood Money is mostly about how the CCP aims to defeat America (and the West) though there are moments when the discussion turns to why. For instance, Schweizer provides a telling quotation from the Supreme Leader contained in a textbook given to all PLA officers. China and the West, according to Xi, are essentially incompatible because of differing ideologies and social systems: “This [incompatibility] decides it. Our struggle and contest of power with the West cannot be moderated. It will inevitably be long, complex, and at times extremely sharp.” The history of the CCP, after all, is a case study of destroying the independent integrity of everything that comes into its purview, from Tibet to the World Health Organisation. The only question is whether the politburo ever believed the Tibetan Autonomous Region would be, in any sense, self-directed. The belligerent paranoia of the CCP is a function of its Leninist nature and millennial fancies. Today the utopian vision is not Mao’s Great Leap Forward but Xi’s China Dream, though the same Leninist impulse prevails: the enemy must be “disintegrated”.

Beijing’s obvious ill-will towards America is nowhere more apparent than in Schweizer’s Part I, “Murder with a Borrowed Knife”, which deals with China’s role in the catastrophic fentanyl crisis afflicting America. The regime has almost from its inception in 1949 been involved in exporting drugs to the West while stamping out illicit drug use at home. Opium, managed and cultivated by the Chinese state, found its way onto the Japanese market in the 1950s via triad gangs. In the early 1960s, the process was repeated in America. In both cases, writes Schweizer, citing expert opinion from the time, Beijing’s involvement had less to do with ideology than obtaining hard currency. That changed with the Vietnam War. Zhou Enlai in 1965 apparently boasted to Egypt’s Nasser: “We will use opium to shatter the morale of the US troops in Vietnam and the effects on the United States will indeed be beyond prediction.” Eight years later, the high rate of heroin addiction among troops partly explained the Nixon administration’s decision to accelerate the withdrawal of US forces from South Vietnam.

That was the first stage of “The New Opium Wars”, a phenomenon that has become increasingly deadly with the advent of lethal synthetic opi­oids such as fentanyl. According to a report issued by America’s Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), “more than two-thirds of the reported 107,081 drug overdose deaths in 2022 involved illicitly manufactured fentanyl”. Hardest hit were black Americans and the young. ASTHO has spoken positively, nonetheless, of “two years of advancements” under the Biden administration’s Overdose Prevention Strategy which has focused on four key areas: “primary prevention, harm reduction, evidence-based treatment, and recovery support”. Catherine Jones, an analyst for ASTHO, also commended the White House for requesting $1.2 billion to stop fentanyl entering the US and a government delegation meeting the Chinese in February 2024 to discuss “reducing production of the fentanyl drug precursors currently being sent to Mexico”. This deluded commentary suggests that all that is required is an increased measure of goodwill from Beijing and a more proactive policy to curtail the trafficking of illicit synthetic opi­oids into the US.

In reality, Beijing announced, as far back as 2019, after high-level discussions with the Trump administration, that the issue of fentanyl production and trafficking had been “resolved”. Yet meetings between Beijing and the Biden administration took place in 2022, 2023 and 2024. Common sense tells us that if China’s Ministry of State Security—with the capacity to monitor all communications in China via WeChat—wanted to curb the production of fentanyl precursors, this production would not be growing exponentially. Daniel Greenfield, in a recent article for Front Page, “Biden’s Fentanyl Deal with China Failed to Stop Overdoses”, asserts that China supports drug trafficking because it is lucrative and useful as leverage in negotiations. At the February 2024 US-China meeting in Vienna, for instance, Chinese officials described the discussions about fentanyl as “constructive”, but according to Xinhua news agency, the discussions were “focused on the US visa restrictions on Chinese students”. Greenfield concludes:

Lenin had once reportedly bragged that the capitalists would sell him the rope with which he would hang them. Americans are buying the fentanyl rope with which China is hanging us. Every shipment puts more money into China’s pockets while undermining America.

The demand for illicit drugs in the US goes back to at least the 1960s, so why have successive administrations met the challenge with “vacant eyes”? Blood Money begins with the Nixon–Kissinger administration. In a 1972 article, the well-informed columnist Paul Scott wrote: “Government officials must not reveal any information of heroin traffic from China or the direct involvement of the Peking government.” At the same time, Pentagon reconnaissance flights over China’s ally Burma in search of poppy fields were discontinued under the direct orders of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Building and maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with China would become the great leitmotif of Kissinger’s life right up until his death at the age of 100 in November last year. The economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping only further encouraged subsequent US administrations to pursue a “strategic partnership” with Beijing. The excuse was that closer relations between America and China not only made the world safer—and US corporations richer—but would encourage the regime to loosen its grip on power and introduce democratic reforms, even after the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

America’s political class has long understood China’s pivotal role in drug production and smuggling. In 1992, for instance, then-Senator Biden chastised the George H.W. Bush administration for refusing to acknowledge that China had become a major trafficking route for heroin and opium and was “poised to become the lynchpin of the heroin trade”. In 1997, then-Senator John Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, published a book, The Web of Crime That Threatens America’s Security, which accused China of being “a central hub for the international drug trade” with annual profits of more than $200 billion. Kerry noted that Chinese triads were in cahoots with Beijing. Soon afterwards, Kerry led a trade delegation of thirty US companies to Beijing. Rather than denounce the PRC as the narco-state it is, he enthusiastically talked of “take-off time” for China.

Schweizer has written much more on the adventures of the Biden family in China in Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win (2022). In Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends (2018) he delved into the financial connections between China and the business owned by the family of Elaine Chao, a top official in the George W. Bush administration and Secretary of Transport in the Trump administration. Chao’s husband is Mitch McConnell, senator for Kentucky since 1985 and leader of the Senate Republican Conference since 2007. It is no conspiracy theory to suggest that America’s political elite have at the very least private and political incentives for not disrupting business-as-usual Sino-US relations. Blood Money cites the case of Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania who, in 2016, “introduced a bill to cut the Chinese source of fentanyl” but could not find a single senator to co-sponsor it. America’s political elite, from Joe Biden to Governor Newsom of California, have private business connections with China yet pontificate on the disastrous fentanyl crisis. Rarely do they address the reality that Beijing is involved in every link of the fentanyl chain: production, distribution, money laundering and cartel communications.      

Schweizer observes that over the years “club-like relationships” have been forged between CCP leaders, Chinese organised crime, American financiers and US officials. Blood Money however argues something weightier—Beijing is intent on “disintegrating” the US. In Part II, “Watch a Fire from Across the River”, Schweizer outlines how China undermines America—a society that is already deeply divided and increasingly lacks a sense of cohesion. China is “happy to fan the flames” of discontent:

Much of the work is done by groups that meet with CCP officials, are tracked by Chinese Communist intelligence, and receive funding from China. Devices supplied by China arm American felons and extremists with machine guns and wreak havoc in the United States. Our leaders are silent and absent.

Arming America’s criminal underworld echoes China’s role in the fentanyl crisis. In the 1990s Chinese companies were caught attempting to smuggle machine-guns directly into the US. These days the Chinese illegally ship switches or auto-sears to Mexico that transform a semi-automatic Swiss-made Glock handgun into a fully automatic weapon. China’s partners not only provide the “Glock switch” for lethal conversion, and Chinese silencers, they fund and supervise the whole operation and co-ordinate distribution across the US border. In 2022 Mark Totten, US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, was one of the first to sound the alarm: “These devices are an emerging threat to our communities, our children, our law enforcement officers, and anyone who stands in the path of their indiscriminate spray.” In 2022, writes Schweizer, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced a 500 per cent increase in the confiscation of auto-sear switches. The consequences are beginning to be felt. Cities such as St Louis are becoming war zones. In 2021, the ATF reported sixty-six incidents of full auto gunfire; in 2022, there were 339.

Meanwhile, Democrats, including President Biden, call for stricter regulations on gun ownership without holding Beijing accountable for arming criminals with automatic weapons. The latest development, which came after the publication of Blood Money, is that on March 26 thirteen US state attorneys-general—most of them Democrats—warned that there would be legal and financial consequences if the responsible party did not change course: “We have followed the mounting reports about devastation and public terror caused by Glock handguns that became illegal machine guns when fitted with cheap, ubiquitous inserts known as ‘switches’ or ‘auto-sears’.” Yet, their open letter was not addressed to Beijing but to Glock. It might be true, as the attorneys-general claim, that “Glock’s uniquely receptive modular design” makes its conversion into a functional machine gun relatively straightforward, but nowhere in the March 26 missive is there any mention of China’s malevolent role. America’s political elite, it seems, are unwilling or unable to confront Beijing’s irreconcilable enmity towards the US.

Schweizer chronicles the role Beijing played in two of the most divisive events in recent years in the US—the riots following the death of George Floyd and the anti-Israel fervour sweeping US campuses and the Democratic Party since October 7 last year. In the former, Beijing’s state-run media backed Black Lives Matter’s radical perspective on institutionalised racism and calls to defund the police, rank hypocrisy given the crude racial stereo­types shown on Chinese television, not least pertaining to Africans. The ideology of the CCP is a form of Han supremacist Leninist-imperialism that is disdainful of China’s minorities—Tibetans, Mongolians, Uighurs—and no less disdainful of the rest of the non-Han world. Bill Hayton, in The Invention of China (2020), aptly characterised Xi Jinping’s philosophy as “national socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Beijing’s support for Black Lives Matter and allied activists—not just ideological but in some cases financial—is about exacerbating social discord. As Schweizer notes, during the Cold War, the Soviets tried to use racial tensions as a weapon against the US but lacked the technical means and a genuine understanding of American culture. The advent of social media, not least China-owned TikTok, has expanded the opportunities for what the CCP calls “unrestricted warfare”.

Schweizer discusses TikTok in “Hide a Dagger in a Smile”. As many as 170 million Americans use TikTok and about 43 per cent receive their news from it. TikTok was developed by ByteDance, a Chinese company founded by Zhan Yiming, but it relied on US finance, technical expertise, celebrity endorsements and political lobbyists to become—and remain—a phenomenon in America. As Schweizer writes, many people are hesitant about representing a Chinese company intent on spycraft and producing propaganda aimed at American kids, but people on both sides of the aisle are happy to take their money. Former aides to former House Speakers Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi have been on the payroll of ByteDance. Schweizer says the most effective lobbyist for TikTok in Washington, David Urban, worked for Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. ByteDance, the parent company, insists it has an arm’s-length relationship with TikTok, allowing the charismatic CEO of the viral video app, Singapore-based Shou Zi Chew, to call the shots at TikTok. This claim, like the claim that ByteDance has autonomy from Beijing, is seriously disputed.

Strong arguments for the usefulness of TikTok can be made, not least by Shou Zi Chew who insists that the central purpose of the platform is emancipatory, enabling ordinary (often young) people to showcase their talents or small businesses and to inexpensively advertise their wares to the world. It is all about education in the best sense, contends Shou, omitting to mention that the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, is an actual educational tool. Shou claims that the only purpose of TikTok’s algorithms is to provide users with relevant information based on their established interests: no manipulation of the user is at play and all user information is securely stored in the US. But, as numerous experts have remarked, user information can be stored in the US and China. And when have the algorithms of any social platform been entirely innocuous? I have met numerous young adults since October 7 who acquired their strong pro-Hamas opinions from TikTok. Schweizer writes that Beijing recently opened a propaganda office to target Generation Z audiences overseas. The Israel–Hamas conflict has become extraordinarily divisive in America. Radicalised campuses are primarily to blame but Beijing is exacerbating social division. Schweizer cites a Chinese military strategist: “Sow discord in the enemy camp … to perplex, shake, divide, and soften the troops and civilians on the other side.”  

The US House of Representatives belatedly passed a bill stipulating that ByteDance sell its ownership of TikTok or the popular app would be banned, a bill President Biden promised to sign if the Senate passed it. The bill, as Schweizer anticipated, hit headwinds in the Senate thanks to lobbyists. Meanwhile, Biden used TikTok to launch his re-election campaign to “reach out to Generation Z”. Schweizer cites Professor Shi Anbin, a propaganda analyst at Tsinghua University: “The one who wins the platform wins the world.” This is stealthy warfare that Sun Tzu would endorse: “Be so subtle that you are invisible. Be so mysterious that you are intangible. Then you will control your rival’s fate.” Given that the Biden administration rejected the idea that China’s infamous surveillance balloon, eventually shot down over the Atlantic in January 2023, involved a “breach of security”, the subtleties of ByteDance/TikTok are likely to remain “mysterious” for some time yet.  

The other great communication platform is what Schweizer calls “The People’s Republic of Hollywood”. He points out that of the 100 highest-grossing films between 2014 and 2018, forty-one had Chinese investors. He chronicles those written to meet the approval of Beijing’s Central Propaganda Department, including Walt Disney’s 2020 remake of Mulan. Chinese sponsors’ demands include featuring a map of China that shows the CCP’s claim to the South China Sea in the DreamWorks animated film Abominable despite the map not featuring in the script. In Tristar’s futurist film Looper, set in 2044, a time-traveller tells the main character: “I’m from the future … you should go to China.” Art as indoctrination has always been a speciality of the CCP. 

Part IV of Blood Money, “Loot a Burning House” tells the tawdry story of Beijing’s duplicity during COVID-19. Leaving aside the controversy over the origins of SARS-CoV-2 (discussed in “China and Covid: Dancing with the Devil”, Quadrant, November 2021), Beijing’s ill-intentions towards America and the West are obvious. This passage goes to the heart of Beijing’s bad faith:

By the end of January 2020, the Chinese government blocked flights from Wuhan to the rest of China but allowed flights to leave to the rest of the world. Wuhan Tianhe International Airport had direct international flights to New York, San Francisco, Milan, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Hamburg, Dubai, and many other international destinations.

To release Covid upon the world, when China’s authorities already knew SARS-CoV-2 was capable of human-to-human transmission, tells us a great deal about Beijing’s hostility to humanity at large, and America specifically. That the regime subsequently lied about the success of its despotic lockdowns only makes it worse. The only positive to arise from the Covid era might be that more people in the West woke up to the truth that solving problems with government heavy-handedness, in the manner of the CCP, is more likely to hurt than help.

China’s strategists know that the openness of America provides easy access for the probing tentacles of totalitarian China. Beijing can manipulate American corporations, politicians, policies and films but this arrangement is not reciprocal. The Great Firewall, launched by the Ministry of Public Security in 2020, allows Beijing to close off its captive population while exploiting the freedom of America with no respect for its sovereignty. It is all one-way traffic. As Schweizer writes:

Evidence abounds of cases on US soil of secret Chinese police stations and harassment of Chinese dissidents, the buying of farmland and other real estate assets, including near military bases, rampant corporate technology espionage and theft, the collection of Americans’ identity data, K-12 school influence … 

The naysayers will argue that at most Beijing is engaging in an active form of strategic competition with its only serious rival. But the newly revealed Chinese spy bases in Cuba, the rapid expansion of China’s nuclear-weapon capability, the menacing threat to occupy Taiwan by force, and Xi’s ominous rhetoric about “broken heads and bloodshed” for all who oppose the “China Dream” tell a different story. We could add the exponential rise in Chinese nationals of military age illegally crossing America’s porous southern border. Perhaps these young men are simply looking for work in the US. The point, however, is that nobody in the Biden administration seems to know. 

Christopher Marquis, author of Mao and Markets: The Communist Roots of Chinese Enterprise (2022) writes that the West needs to understand that “the systemic problems with China’s governance go way beyond the one man at the top and recognise that China under the CCP is essentially a criminal organisation that represents a fundamental challenge to lawful societies around the world”.

Beijing will overpower or cause America to disintegrate to the extent that its leaders allow it to be co-opted by the transnational criminal organisation known as the CCP. Schweizer is not optimistic about the outcome: “We are well beyond the 1960s la-la land mantra of ‘Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?’ The only ones who haven’t shown up are the ones who should be defending us.”

If Beijing is “quietly killing” America, asks Schweizer, what is to be done? The most obvious remedy is to address the corruption endemic to US leaders. More fundamentally, American leaders in all fields must acknowledge that Communist China is not America’s strategic rival, let alone strategic partner, but its potential nemesis. They must recognise that at present, the endpoint of the China Dream is the American Nightmare. 

Blood Money: Why the Powerful Turn a Blind Eye while China Kills Americans
by Peter Schweizer

HarperCollins, 2024, 320 pages, $62.99

Daryl McCann, a frequent contributor, has a blog at darylmccann.blogspot.com. He wrote the article “Conservatism as Localism” in the April issue

8 thoughts on “China’s Dream, America’s Nightmare

  • Podargus says:

    With the present regime in the US it a waste of time expecting any sense out of that quarter in regard to China.
    With the present regime in power in Australia the prospect is much the same.
    With a certified dickhead as Prime Minister and a Chinese Foreign Minister what else can be expected.

  • Stephen Due says:

    What the Chinese are doing to the United States is insignificant compared with what the Americans are doing to themselves. Their governments, including their parliaments and courts, police and military, state education systems and economic regulators, are all corrupt to the core. It’s not just a case of “something” being rotten in the “state of Denmark” – everything is rotten and increasingly putrid.
    Victor Davis Hanson, the renowned classicist and military historian, has just published a masterpiece about the destruction of four great civilisations in the past, titled “The End of Everything”. A brilliant one-hour summary is provided in a recent interview with Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution (the latest episode in a series called “Uncommon Knowledge”). In this book, Hanson warns the West that its most powerful citadel – the United States – is increasingly vulnerable to its enemies, and that the reason is primarily the corruption of its elites.
    What about Australia? We occupy a vast continent with untold natural resources in minerals and land, and a population the size of Florida. We are basically defenceless militarily without the United States. Our elites have allowed our manufacturing capability to be destroyed, our energy infrastructure to be degraded, our economy endangered by excessive debt, our culture to be undermined by inappropriate immigration policies… It’s a long list.
    Our problems are in leadership. Our governments have recently demonstrated their utter incompetence during the Covid ‘pandemic’, which is the only national ‘emergency’ (in this case largely imaginary) the country has faced since the Second World War. We need fresh, capable leaders who are prepared to set aside their personal interests and enter the political arena. We need the best people we can muster in our parliaments. I believe the Australian people are not yet so far gone that they cannot be led out of the economic and cultural morass in which we find ourselves today. We need to recover a sense of direction – and a sense of urgency, because there is much to do, and the sooner the better,

    • profspurr says:

      Agree. But the problem, which (extraordinarily) people still insufficiently recognise – and it’s the major obstacle standing in the way of the correction of all the corruption you rightly identify – is the complete meltdown of our education system, at all levels. Just look at what has become of the universities, and this is where such future leaders of the country as there may be are being indoctrinated, where – once – they were educated. My forthcoming essay, ‘The Betrayal of the Intellectuals’, in the June Quadrant addresses aspects of this.

  • cbattle1 says:

    The broad river valleys of China were one of the original sites where civilisation arose, and for thousands of years a culture has thrived in what we call China. Compared to that, Western culture looks like a “flash in the pan”. If I were a betting man, I would wager that China is most likely to attain and maintain dominant status in the world, due to the apparent fact that the West is progressively rotting away from the inside. The continuity of Chinese culture is most likely to remain integral, while the West is busy celebrating diversity, freedom and dissolution.

    • pmprociv says:

      That’s a very sweeping generalisation, cbattle1. You haven’t defined “Western culture”, and all cultures evolve, according to changing environments and populations. Modern China is extremely westernised (just look at its technology and industry), but now strait-jacketed and manipulated by an increasingly ruthless autocrat. Many of its citizens can see this and are unhappy (look at the increasing numbers of “asylum-seekers”), but are powerless to do much about it. It would be unrecognisable to Confucius.

  • Jack Brown says:

    The government in China sees itself as governing the Chinese nation and pursue policies advancing the interests of Chinese people. This is as it should be. The government in Australia and most Western countries, certainly Anglosphere / Five Eyes, sees its role as advancing political ideology and advancing the interests of other nations (in the original sense of that word) and countering Chinese moves based on ideology eg democracy. Perhaps they should focus on the interests of the people of Australia or more broadly the Anglosphere and build up the people of these nations as a positive policy. A female with no genetic links to this nation (her mother chose to have her children fathered by a Chinese man) in the past and none in the future is not going to have much interest or commitment in this regard.

    • pmprociv says:

      I suspect our government has no clear idea of who “the people of Australia” might be; its members seem more interested in protecting their own individual interests, and it doesn’t help to have an intellectually-challenged PM. Certainly, with multiculturalism, we’re in the process of splintering into many conflicting tribes, as is becoming clearer right now. Could this be in the Chinese people’s, or at least its ruling junta’s, interests? (I wonder if there’s a Chinese word for “multiculturalism”?)

  • cbattle1 says:

    The Chinese government is looking after the interests of the Chinese people, who are predominantly of Han ethnicity/culture and Mandarin speaking. Like many countries, China has faced the problem of Islamisation, particularly in the Xianjiang region where a rising independence movement among the Muslim Uyghur people was threatening the territorial integrity of the Chinese state. The Chinese government dealt with the threat quickly and decisively, yet we in the West felt it our business to criticise the Chinese government, hurling accusations of genocide and other human rights abuses. Meanwhile at home we can’t do anything about the increasing Islamisation of the ever growing Muslim population and increasing intolerance towards what former PM John Howard identified as “Australian Values”.
    .
    Rather than considering China a great enemy that needs to be contained, by means of global-ranging nuclear powered attack submarines which will cost the Australian taxpayers dearly, maybe we should instead mind our own business, and build our own fleet of conventional coastal defense submarines. That must surely bring pride to the Australian nation and its economy. The technology to build such submarines has been around for over one hundred years, and if Australia can’t succeed in designing and building such submarines, then the future of Australia is very much in doubt. Going “all the way with the USA” with the Virginia Class submarine program will not strengthen and preserve Australian sovereignty, rather it will bring us further under the influence of the USA.

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