Three Ways to Counter the Chinese Regime Without a War
Commentary by Wang He
August 11, 2020
The year 2020 has marked the beginning of a new phase in the “cold war” between the United States and the Chinese communist regime.
Following U.S. sanctions against human rights violators in Xinjiang came the removal of Hong Kong’s special trade status, and formal denial of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) hegemony in the South China Sea. And now the conflict has intensified with the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston, and successive China policy statements by high-ranking U.S. government officials. All these events have taken the international community by surprise.
But are there ways to bring down the CCP? There are, for sure. And I believe American policymakers have long been aware of them.
Taking Down the Internet Firewall
First, dismantle the CCP’s Great Firewall to gain internet freedom for the Chinese people.
In the mid 1990s, when China was connected to the global internet, the surveillance and blockade started almost simultaneously. Known as the “Golden Shield Project,” the CCP’s firewall has long been notorious. In addition, on June 1, 2017, Beijing’s draconian cyber security law was implemented to block VPNs, delete posts, ban users, and arrest people. China has become the world’s number one “state behind the wall.”
The CCP’s cyber wall not only deprives the Chinese people of their freedom of speech and freedom of thought, but also seriously endangers the world.
An article commemorating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall published by Radio France Internationale on Nov. 11, 2019 pointed out that, if the world fails to see that the visible Berlin Wall has transformed into an even more vicious invisible (internet) firewall in China, then any rhetoric about freedom is empty.
One of the most important reasons for the raging coronavirus pandemic around the world is the CCP’s concealment and fraud, and its internet blockade. This has become the consensus among the United States and the international community. The United States can no longer ignore the CCP’s cyber wall.
Michael Pack, the new head of the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM), waited two years for Senate confirmation of his nomination and finally took charge of the agency last month. He immediately fired the top leadership at each of the agency’s news outlets, such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, that are known to be severely infiltrated by the CCP. A USAGM spokesperson said, “Mr. Pack understands the scale and nature of the threat posed by opponents of freedom of expression, and that is precisely why he considers bolstering firewall circumvention as a top priority of his tenure at USAGM.”
Radio talk show host and former White House strategist Steve Bannon made it clear on his War Room broadcast program “Pandemic EP166” that tearing down the firewall is phase one of how to destroy the CCP and begin the liberation of the Chinese people.
In the May 8 program, Bannon interviewed Michael Horowitz, the CEO of 21st Century Initiatives and the former general counsel for the Office of Management and Budget under the Reagan Administration. Horowitz stated, “It is technologically feasible for us to bypass the Chinese firewall, it won’t take a lot of money, but it’ll take a Manhattan project effort.”
Horowitz went on to say: “The U.S. has lined up a major American University to assign its key information technology and computer security experts to work with…the State Department or the Board of Broadcasting Governors. The experts and government believe that the chances are substantial and that we can take down the firewall before the election.”
The United States has unlimited funds from three billion dollars worth of accounts to tear down the firewall, according to Horowitz.
There is another item of encouragement regarding dismantling of the CCP’s firewall. On June 13, SpaceX completed its ninth bulk Starlink launch, carrying 58 Starlink broadband satellites. According to astronomy news website Space.com, the goal of SpaceX’s Starlink project is to provide users around the world with constant, high-speed internet access. The company plans to achieve this by launching a massive constellation of broadband internet satellites. Users on the ground would then operate a small terminal—no bigger than a laptop—to gain internet access.
This accomplishment could very likely become the terminator of the CCP’s firewall.
In general, technically breaking down China’s firewall is highly plausible as demonstrated by the success of circumvention software, such as Freegate and Wujie. It is merely a political decision.
For example, during the Obama administration, on July 31, 2015, the New York Times stated that Washington had decided to retaliate against China’s hacking of government computers and information of 21.5 million people. Pursuing internet freedom was within the scope of retaliation.
Also, in 2016, the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for the first time listed Chinese internet censorship as a trade barrier. In 2018, USTR reported to Congress on China’s WTO compliance, saying the CCP’s engaging in “extensive blocking of legitimate websites is affecting billions of dollars in business.”
However, concrete actions are yet to be seen.
Taking down the Great Firewall will bring great change to China. As one netizen has commented, “Leave the rest to the Chinese people, as long as the firewall is dismantled.”
Sanctioning CCP Human Rights Violators
The second way to bring down the CCP is to comprehensively publicize and sanction Chinese communist officials who have committed human rights violations by freezing their overseas assets.
Accountability, the ability to hold individual human rights violators responsible for their actions, is one of the basic principles of international human rights law and international criminal law. It is never right to cover up personal crimes under the pretext of orders from a superior, national interests, institutional systems, etc. Applying this principle, comprehensively sanctioning CCP officials for their human rights violations will bring great results.
On Dec. 23, 2016 the “Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act” was signed into law, and on Dec. 21, 2017 the United States used it to slap sanctions on Gao Yan, a former police chief of Beijing’s Chaoyang district, over the death of an activist in custody. It was the first time the Trump administration took this kind of specific action in response to a human rights abuse in China.
On Aug. 2, 2017 President Trump signed into law the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.” The State Department used it the first time on Sept. 20, 2018 to impose sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD), the military branch responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in “significant transactions” with Russia’s main arms exporter.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 is another U.S. law for sanctioning CCP criminals by imposing “property and visa-blocking sanctions on foreign persons responsible for gross human rights violations in Hong Kong.”
This year, the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 and the Hong Kong Autonomy Act of 2020, laid a legal foundation for comprehensive sanctions against CCP human rights violators.
In terms of law enforcement, on July 9, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned four current or former government officials in connection with serious rights abuses against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The designation included Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang, and Zhu Hailun, a former Deputy Party Secretary of Xinjiang. Also designated were the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (XPSB), as well as the current Director and Communist Party Secretary of the XPSB, Wang Mingshan, and the former Party Secretary of the XPSB, Huo Liujun.
This action was being taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, “Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption,” which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
Simultaneously, the State Department also placed additional visa restrictions on Chen Quanguo, Zhu Hailun, and Wang Mingshan, and their immediate family members.
The sanctions were imposed under the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the U.S. government to target human rights violators worldwide by freezing any of their U.S. assets, banning U.S. travel, and prohibiting Americans from doing business with them.
On July 7, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo also announced the implementation of visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials who are “substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas,” pursuant to the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018.
Previously, on June 26, Pompeo announced visa restrictions on current and former CCP officials who were believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy. The visa restrictions were to fulfill President Trump’s promise to punish CCP officials who were responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms, and this was enacted prior to the CCP having unveiled the full text of the Hong Kong national security law.
And even prior to this, on June 11, the members of the Republican Study Committee’s National Security & Foreign Affairs Task Force recommended that the Department of the Treasury impose sanctions on key CCP leaders, including Luo Huining, the director of the Hong Kong liaison office, Han Zheng, a member of the seven-person elite Politburo of the CCP and also Xi Jinping’s “point man” on Hong Kong affairs, Xia Baolong, the head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and others.
The above examples show that the Trump administration has stepped up its use of comprehensive sanctions against CCP human rights abusers. The effect and impact on the communist dictators and their followers is incalculable.
Quit the Party and Travel Ban
The third way to bring down the CCP is to ban all CCP members from entering the United States unless they publicly declare their withdrawal from the CCP.
On July 15, a New York Times report said: “The Trump administration is considering a sweeping ban on travel to the United States by members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families.”
The article went on to say: “The presidential proclamation, still in draft form, could also authorize the United States government to revoke the visas of party members and their families who are already in the country, leading to their expulsion. … Counting party members as well as their families, the ban could technically bar travel to the United States for as many as 270 million people, according to one internal administration estimate.”
The next day, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters in a press briefing regarding the ban, “So, I have no announcements on that front, but rest assured we keep every option on the table with regard to China.”
The travel ban rattled the CCP and created huge panic in the communist regime.
The Chinese people were greatly encouraged and rejoiced. Not only did mainland netizens strongly support the passage of this ban, they also provided suggestions for Trump to increase the sanctions. In Google’s Chinese search, the term “withdraw from the party” soared.
It is generally anticipated that the consequence of such a travel ban will be the severance of diplomatic relations or worse.
The current U.S. Immigration Law prohibits communist members from immigrating to the United States, but it does not prohibit communist members from entering the country.
However, the United States has recently begun to impose visa restrictions on some Chinese citizens, including senior CCP officials who participated in the suppression of Uyghurs, Chinese journalists working in the United States, and some employees of Chinese technology companies that “violate human rights,” such as Huawei.
In early June, the United States also announced that it would no longer issue visas to foreign students related to the Chinese military, and that visas already issued would also become invalid. In addition, the U.S. government plans to impose visa and economic sanctions on CCP officials involved in suppressing Hong Kong’s freedom.
In terms of operations, it is not difficult to ban the entry of communists. The Trump administration has already distinguished the CCP from the Chinese people. The key now lies in the Trump administration’s recognition of the nature of the CCP and holding the opportunity and the timing. When this move is made, it will set the tone for the new China-U.S. cold war.
In conclusion, I believe the effectiveness of these methods mainly relies on the political will and leadership of President Trump.
Here I’d like to point out that critical to the success of the three methods is to promote the awakening of the Chinese people. The Chinese people are the protagonists in overthrowing the Chinese communist regime. American politicians have made it very clear: the CCP is not afraid of the United States, but of the Chinese people. It’s the Chinese people’s hearts that the CCP and the United States are fighting over.
If the Chinese people don’t awaken, then no one can save them. The help from the United States and the international community’s forces of justice cannot replace the Chinese people’s will to help themselves.
What is encouraging is that more than 360 million Chinese nationals have publicly declared that they have quit from the CCP and its affiliated organizations, the Communist Youth League and the Young Pioneers. The Chinese people’s awakening and the supporting actions from the international community, led by President Trump, will open a new page in history for China and the world.