Adelberg: New Foe, Old Ideas
The Free World must stand up to China’s 21st century tyranny.
The great democracies of the world stood at the precipice: Hitler, empowered by five years of appeasement, launched the mightiest military machine ever seen against the bastions of freedom. France folded within weeks, Britain fought tooth and nail for mere survival and the United States faced an existential threat like no other. This country sent 16.1 million soldiers to wipe out fascism before it could destroy all America holds dear; by 1945, no fascist power remained standing. But unlike men, regimes or civilizations, ideas do not die — the seeds of fascist ideology spread far and wide, with fascist political parties springing up everywhere from Iran to Puerto Rico.
This ideology of oppression slowly took root in post-Mao China, a land seeking order and unity after two decades of starvation, cultural collapse, instability and state-sponsored atrocities. New leadership passed a new constitution, ushering in a new era of single party rule over a state-led economy through oligarchic organs of power. Inequality and corruption skyrocketed as the protectionist state built consolidated titans of industry. “National rejuvenation” became the rallying cry as the line between head of state and dictator blurred. Ethnic minorities lived in fear of brutalization at the hands of the apartheid police state as neighboring countries suffered violations of their sovereignty.
China’s new undemocratic and unequal system of government owes more to Mussolini than Marx. The Cambridge Dictionary defines Communism as “an economic system based on public ownership of property and control of the methods of production, and in which no person profits from the work of others.” Yet China’s private sector accounts for 60 percent to 70 percent of GDP according to the International Trade Administration. Much of this private income stays in the hands of business owners — the business think-tank The Conference Board reports that labor only receives around 50 percent of China’s GDP. Contrary to the ruling regime’s propaganda, China is not a Marxist country.
This ruling regime is blatantly fascist. Merriam Webster defines fascism as “a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” UN human rights experts report that the current regime holds two million ethnic-minority Uighurs in concentration camps —The Nation observes that “an individual can be imprisoned for up to three years for showing disrespect toward the national anthem.” The BBC documents official proclamations that “there would be no separation of powers between the different branches of government and no federal system.” This centralized government serves the leader of China’s Communist Party, a position that under Xi Jinping has grown to command nearly boundless powers and a massive cult of personality. China sustains both one of the highest rates of inequality and one of the most sophisticated systems of censorship on Earth. The truth is dismally clear: China has a fascist system of government.
The international community did not seriously punish fascist China for its systemic assault on human rights — they pulled China from poverty and gave its illegitimate regime a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Fascist China is now the most populous nation in the world, mere years away from eclipsing the United States as the world’s biggest economy and on track to achieve superpower status if the free world does nothing. This corrupted cradle of civilization is already shaping the world in its fascist image — Zimbabwe is the first to openly emulate the Chinese model as developing nations around the world collapse under the weight of predatory Chinese infrastructure loans into a state of neo-colonialism. The neoliberal world order with its open markets and open exchanges of ideas has failed to contain and liberalize China — it has served as a vehicle for Chinese capture of foreign media environments and natural resources. Forty years of appeasement have failed: the time for action was long ago but the time for justice is now.
The United States must stand uncompromisingly against fascism in the 21st century if it hopes to defend American values for ages to come. America must defend its core values of individual liberty, equality, tolerance, democracy, national sovereignty, free markets, free thought and the international liberal order it built to safeguard these values. The United States cannot stand by as a fascist regime erodes these precious pillars of our way of life, hand-wringing over how our language may offend Beijing’s sensibilities as it wages aggressive manipulation campaigns against global democracies. The free world must be bold: The United States must bring its full might toward a comprehensive strategy against the rise of Chinese fascism.
China’s corrupting influence abroad must be challenged on every front. America must contain China geopolitically and deny it superpower status by adding more countries to the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization and expanding its network of free trade agreements in the region. The free world must liberate developing nations from their growing dependency on sovereignty-eroding Chinese foreign direct investment by championing long-needed reform of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It must end China’s state-subsidized trade dominance by spearheading international border adjustment taxes to restore market competitiveness. The free world must restore integrity to its international institutions by aggressively prosecuting China for its countless violations of human rights, intellectual property, territorial integrity and national sovereignty. The free world must do everything in its power to campaign against the rise of Chinese fascism.
This fight against Chinese fascism will not be easy. This stand on principle requires a national reckoning when American consensus is at its most fragile. But this fight is not one that America can walk away from: 1.4 billion souls live under the heel of a tyrannical, revisionist regime that actively undermines the democratic world order America depends upon. As leader of the free world, America cannot fail to uphold its duty to humanity. America is the legacy of a centuries-long resistance against tyranny in all its forms: as humanity hurtles headlong into the 21st century, the free world must meet the trials of their times and stand up against Chinese fascism.