Op/Ed:The United States versus China

By Allan Topol*

The greatest threat facing the United States in the twenty first century is the risk of war with China.  That issue is rarely discussed in the popular media.

Rather, our military obsession is with the three ongoing wars:  Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.  We agonize over whether those wars are “winnable,” when can we reduce our troops and military expenditures, and whether these wars are spreading our army too thin, driving the country further into debt, and producing unacceptable casualties in view of the benefits.  In fact, none of these wars poses an existential threat to the United States.

We do have an enormous concern with China.  However, economic issues predominate.  It is only a question of time, decades at most, until China surpasses the United States as the world’s largest economy.  Chinese universities are graduating five times as many engineers as the United States.  They are now our bankers holding the treasury bonds and notes which keep the United States afloat.

History is change.  Unless the United States does something radically different or unless the Chinese miracle of operating a booming economy in a repressive society implodes, the question is when China will surpass us economically.  Not whether.

Last month, I was having dinner in Washington with a couple who had just returned from their first trip to China.  They spoke about what they saw:  The enormous building; the overnight development of huge factories and mega cities; and the incessant energy.  I imagined that similar conversations took place a hundred or so years ago in London when a couple returned from a visit to the United States.

It would be convenient to view China’s competition with the United States in purely economic terms.  But that would be naive and foolish.  We can no longer close our eyes to the growing Chinese military and to the risk that the United States and China could be drawn into a large scale war with horrendous consequences for both nations.

The March/April 2011 issue of the respected Foreign Affairs had on its cover:  “Will China’s Rise Lead to War?”  And I know from a source in the Pentagon that a special unit is dedicated to carefully monitoring China’s military expansion, while at the same time playing war games that pit the United States against China.

Recent developments underscore this looming threat.  In January of this year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited China with the objective of improving defense ties. While he was there, China’s military conducted a test flight of a new stealth fighter jet.  This bold, in your face, show of force was bad enough.  What made it even worse was that the civilian leadership, including Chinese President Hu Jintao, claimed that they were uninformed that this test would be taking place.  But were they?  Was this really a rogue operation?

What occurred is so close to the plot of my newest novel, The China Gambit, which will be published in January, that I had to remind myself the book was completed.  The plot wasn’t stolen from the headlines.

Then on June 4, Defense Secretary Gates had a response to the Chinese provocation.  Gates was in Singapore addressing a high ranking delegation of Asian defense ministers and military commanders, including China’s Minister of Defense, Gen. Liang Guanglie.  Gates threw down the gauntlet to China by declaring that the United States would not be denied access to key sea routes and lines of communication by “new and disruptive technologies” being developed by China.  And that the United States was developing a new air-sea battle strategy “in defense of our allies and vital interests” in Asia.[1]

Secretary Gates’s comments do not suggest that a military confrontation between the United States and China is inevitable.  However, it is certainly possible.  Our “vital interests,” using the Secretary’s term, could collide with those of China at a multitude of potential flashpoints.  One is Taiwan.

Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade Chinese province, not an independent nation.  And the Chinese have reserved the right to retake Taiwan by force.  On the other hand, the United States not only has treaty commitments to defend Taiwan, but continues to sell arms to Taiwan despite Chinese objections.

It is possible that the decisionmakers in Beijing are biding their time on Taiwan while their military continues its exponential growth and the United States reduces its defense budget.  Under this scenario, some time in this decade Beijing may launch an attack to retake Taiwan.  Then the United States President will have a choice:  Going to war to honor our commitment to Taiwan, or backing down and virtually ceding military dominance in Asia to China.[2]

A second potential flashpoint is oil.[3] China has surpassed Japan as the second largest consumer and importer of oil. For both the United States and China, oil is the lifeblood of the economy, and oil is a limited resource, which moves on the seas and often through narrow straits.

Beijing has cultivated increasingly close ties with Iran, our avowed enemy, with both oil and military components.  This is part of China’s larger effort to tie up oil supplies around the world in a throwback to mercantilism.[4] A war over oil supply or its movement on the seas could easily occur.  All it would take is a bellicose Chinese leader who wants to hasten their economic domination by limiting the United States’ oil supply.

A third potential flashpoint is Japan.  The Chinese still have a score to settle with Japan for World War II, and there are plenty of issues between those two nations, including such topics as fishing and navigation rights.[5] Moreover, a Chinese attack against Japan would be a way of asserting Chinese hegemony in Asia.  At the same time, the United States has treaty obligations to Japan.  Thus, the United States could be drawn into the conflict.

In these and in other scenarios, war between the United States and China is not inevitable. However, it’s time we began confronting the risk of this occurring and revising our military preparedness and diplomacy to deal with this possibility.

The views in opinion pieces and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of Glenn Beck or Mercury Radio Arts.


* Allan Topol’s newest thriller novel, The China Gambit, will be published in January 2012.  Visit his website at www.AllanTopol.com.

[1] New York Times, A5, June 4, 2011.

[2] For a discussion of the Taiwan issue, see Glaser, Charles, Will China’s Rise Lead to War?, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2011, pp. 86-88.

[3] For a discussion of the pending squeeze of oil supplies, see Deffeyes, Kenneth S., Beyond Oil, Hill and Wang, 2006; and Simmons, Matthew R., Twilight In the Desert, Wiley, 2005.

[4] For a discussion of China’s aggressive approach to tying up world oil supplies, see China’s Energy Industry Makes a Bold Push Into Developed Markets, New York Times, B7, March 15, 2011.

[5] For a discussion of the depth of animosity between China and Japan, see, Chang, Yung and Halliday, Jon, Mao, Globalflair Ltd., 2005.

On "GlennTV," host Glenn Beck argued that the World Health Organization has been knowingly helping the Communist Party of China spread disinformation about the coronavirus.

Why?

Well, it turns out that the current WHO director-general is a politician from Ethiopia (the very first director without a medical degree) — and apparently Ethiopia owes China a lot.

"This outbreak has revealed the WHO as nothing more than a Chinese Communist front," Glenn said. "China knew early on just how dangerous the coronavirus was, how it spread, how fast it spread, and the fatality rate, but were more concerned with getting the blame than protecting lives. So, they had their front man, the World Health Organization, tell the world there was nothing to worry about."

On Jan. 14, the WHO repeated the Chinese Communist Party's claim that the coronavirus does not travel human to human.

On Feb. 3, WHO Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced there was no need for measures that "unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade" to combat the spread of COVID-19.

On the exact same date, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China released a statement criticizing President Trump for restricting travel to China.

"[S]ome countries, the US in particular, have inappropriately overreacted, which certainly runs counter to WHO advice. The US government hasn't provided any substantive assistance to us, but it was the first to evacuate personnel from its consulate in Wuhan, the first to suggest partial withdrawal of its embassy staff, and the first to impose a travel ban on Chinese travelers. What it has done could only create and spread fear, which is a very bad example. Even American media and experts doubted the government's decision, saying that the US government's restrictions on China are precisely what the WHO rejects, that the US is turning from overconfidence to fear and overreaction, and that banning the entry of visitors who traveled to China in the past 14 days is suspected to be violating civil rights instead of reducing risks of virus spreading," spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

Hua went on to say, "As the WHO Director-General noted, China is setting a new standard for outbreak response."

Indeed, Tedros has been very consistent in his praise for China's response to the coronavirus outbreak.

"The steps China has taken to contain the outbreak at its source appear to have bought to the world time," he told the Munich Security Conference in mid-February.

Watch the video below for more details:

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On Monday's radio program, Glenn discussed claims that the Obama administration depleted and never replenished the federal supply of emergency gear, including N95 respirator masks, during the H1N1 flu, or swine flu epidemic, in 2009.

Last month, Bloomberg News, and the Los Angeles Times, among others, reported that the Obama administration used, and failed to restock supplies of N95 respirator masks, and ignored recommendations that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should replenish the "Strategic National Stockpile." Read more on this here.

USA Today followed up with a fact-check article titled, "Fact check: Did the Obama administration deplete the federal stockpile of N95 masks?"

On Sunday, 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden accused President Donald Trump of "failing to prepare our nation to respond."

President Trump fired back, "You and Obama depleted America's stockpile of N95 masks after the H1N1 swine flu pandemic. You were advised to replenish the national stockpile but FAILED. STOP LYING AND EXPLAIN!"

Watch the video below for more details:

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Glenn gives the latest coronavirus numbers, updating YOU on everything needed to know as Americans and officials monitor China's new COVID-19 virus:

Daily Stats as of 5:30 AM CT (from John's Hopkins)

  • Total Confirmed Cases Worldwide: 1,359,010 (up from 1,284,805 yesterday)
  • Total Confirmed Deaths Worldwide: 75,906 (up from 70,906 yesterday)
  • Total Confirmed Recovered Worldwide: 293,454 (up from 271,782 yesterday)
  • Still Just 5% of Active Cases are considered serious (requiring hospitalization) Steady from 5% yesterday, and down from the 19% high back in February
  • Note that about 11% of US Confirmed Cases require Hospitalization, roughly on par with Italy at 12% requiring hospitalization but lower than Spain, where 17% of patients require hospitalization.
  • US has 367,650 Confirmed Cases and 10,943 Deaths, up from 336,851 cases and 9,620 cases yesterday
  • The US currently has 336,897 Active Cases of COVID-19, with about 1.2% of the US Population tested
Motor City Nightmare: More Than 700 Employees in One Detroit Hospital System Test Positive https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/491484-more-than-700-employees-at-one-detroit-hospital-system-test-positive-for
  • Hundreds of staff at a Detroit-area hospital system have tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Dr. Adnan Munkarah of the Henry Ford Hospital Campus confirmed 731 cases of the coronavirus among employees at the hospital, accounting for 2 percent of the hospital system's 31,600 employees.
  • As many as 1,500 at another hospital in the state have reported symptoms similar to coronavirus, though those numbers are not confirmed cases.
  • "If we are to test the whole population, you are going to see large numbers of people who are testing positive...Testing positive is just a measure of how contagious this virus is." said the hospital director.
  • "Our team members are our greatest asset and their health and safety is a top priority as we continue to respond to this pandemic," Munkarah said in a separate statement Monday evening confirmed the total number of positive test results.
  • "We know we are not immune to potential exposure and we remain grateful for the courage and dedication of our entire team," he added.
  • Detroit, Michigan's largest city, has seen a surge of coronavirus cases in recent days while the state itself has seen just over 17,000 cases of the virus – the third-largest total of any state in the U.S. More than 5,000 of those cases were reported in Detroit, where hundreds have died.
The Invisible...Invisible Enemy: Can COVID-19 Hide In Cells? https://www.the-sun.com/news/645016/fears-coronavirus-hide-cells-reactivate-recovered-patients-test-positive/
  • COVID-19 may be able to remain in the body and "reactivate" later after 51 recovered patients tested positive again.
  • The patients, from the city of Daegu, South Korea, had all spent time in quarantine while recovering from the disease but were diagnosed again within days of being released.
  • The center said it did not believe the patients had been reinfected, but that the virus had remained at undetectable levels in their cells and later "reactivated".
  • The claim runs contrary to the bulk of current evidence about how the virus works.
  • Investigators said the most likely explanation was that the clearance samples for the patients were false negatives, a common issue with nasal swab tests.
  • "Still, we remain vigilant and open to the possibility that the virus can remain dormant for some time," Dr Leong Kwok, Director of Viral Epidemiology at the National Health Institute in Seoul said.
Maybe Don't Go To the Grocery Store After All https://www.foxnews.com/health/los-angeles-braces-itself-more-coronavirus-deaths-warns-residents-not-go-shopping-warns-residents-not-to-go-out-shopping
  • With coronavirus related deaths spiking in Los Angeles County and "a critical week" ahead, health officials advised residents on Monday to stay at home and avoid shopping to limit the spread of the virus.
  • "If you have enough supplies in your home, this would be the week to skip shopping altogether," said public health department Director Barbara Ferrer, according to the Los Angeles Times.
  • Officials confirmed 420 new coronavirus cases in the county and 15 deaths on Monday.
  • Over 6,360 cases and 147 deaths have been reported since the outbreak started, per data from Johns Hopkins.
Mexico's Slow Response May Cause Problems for Texas https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/mexico-slow-response-coronavirus-texas-us-15181201.php
  • As recently as March 15, some 40,000 concert goers crowded into the Foro Sor venue for the popular Vive Latino music festival.
  • Tourists from Europe and the United States were able to enter the country without any restrictions until late last week.
  • Restaurants, airports, subways and grocery stores remain open in Mexico City, though churches and large markets have closed.
  • The rapid spread of the COVID-19, however, has begun to increase the urgency of the government's response. Mexican health authorities reported on March 16 that the country had 82 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Two weeks later, the number swelled to nearly 2439, including 125 deaths.
  • Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell, who two weeks ago dismissed US social distancing restrictions as "an extreme tactic" and "irresponsible" is now urging citizens to "stay at home, stay at home, stay at home."
  • "If you have food at home, stay home. There is no reason good enough to go out, period," he said.
  • Mexico is just one of many nations that reacted slowly to the coronavirus pandemic, in large part because government leaders failed to understand how contagious the virus is.
  • President Lopez Obrador spent the first half of March dismissing the gravity of the virus, encouraging Mexicans to frequent restaurants and posting videos of himself in crowds, kissing babies.
  • He said Mexico's spirituality would protect the country against the virus and made a public display of pulling out two religious amulets that he said would be his shield.
  • Mexico shares over 1,200 miles of border with the United States.
Hong Kong Closed to All Foreign Travelers, Indefinitely https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/3078633/coronavirus-five-hong-kong-residents-flown-back
  • The city extends its ban on arrivals after most cases over past two weeks have come from overseas.
  • Only six of 24 newly infected yesterday are local transmissions, but all are linked to entertainment venues already closed.
  • All entertainment venues are closed until further notice.
  • Hong Kong recently issued a new state of emergency order revoking travel into the country from any outside nation, including China.
  • The order will prevent Hong Kong from 'opening up' it's economy through at least early May
Drug You Can't Pronounce May Be Saving Lives https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2020/04/06/democrat-karen-whitsett-coronavirus-hydroxychloroquine-trump/2955430001/, https://abc7.com/coronavirus-drug-covid-19-malaria-hydroxychloroquine/6079864/
  • A Democratic state representative from Detroit is crediting hydroxychloroquine — and Republican President Donald Trump who touted the drug — for saving her in her battle with the coronavirus.
  • State Rep. Karen Whitsett, who learned Monday she has tested positive for COVID-19, said she started taking hydroxychloroquine on March 31, prescribed by her doctor, after both she and her husband sought treatment for a range of symptoms on March 18.
  • "It was less than two hours" before she started to feel relief, said Whitsett, who had experienced shortness of breath, swollen lymph nodes, and what felt like a sinus infection. She is still experiencing headaches, she said.
  • Elsewhere, a Los Angeles doctor said he is seeing significant success in prescribing hydroxychloroquine in combination with zinc to treat patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19.
  • The drug has been touted as a possible treatment for COVID-19 by President Trump among others, but it remains controversial as some experts believe it is unproven and may not be effective.
  • The drug has long been used for treatment of malaria and conditions such as lupus and arthritis but is not technically approved by the FDA for COVID-19. The agency, however, is encouraging trials and has provided limited emergency authorization for its use to treat COVID-19 patients.
  • Dr. Anthony Cardillo said he has seen very promising results when prescribing hydroxychloroquine in combination with zinc for the most severely-ill COVID-19 patients.
  • "Every patient I've prescribed it to has been very, very ill and within 8 to 12 hours, they were basically symptom-free," Cardillo told Eyewitness News. "So clinically I am seeing a resolution very consistently."
Belt and Road, COVID-19 Style https://spectator.us/italy-china-ppe-sold-coronavirus/
  • After COVID-19 made its way to Italy, decimating the country's significant elderly population, China told the world it would donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help Italy stop its spread.
  • Reports later indicated that China had actually sold, not donated, the PPE to Italy. A senior Trump administration official tells The Spectator that it is much worse than that: China forced Italy to buy back the PPE supply that it gave to China during the initial coronavirus outbreak.
  • "Before the virus hit Europe, Italy sent tons of PPE to China to help China protect its own population,' the administration official explained. 'China then has sent Italian PPE back to Italy — some of it, not even all of it … and charged them for it."
  • China also recently donated PPE to Sweden and Spain, with many doctors reporting that masks and respirators included in the shipment were defective or already used.
  • "Someone got very sloppy," said a senior health official in Spain. "It must have been a mistake."

"This was a sneak attack, like a thief in the night."

"A wartime President."

"A great battle, against an invisible enemy."

"We will win and declare a great victory for our country."

All of these are direct quotes from President Donald Trump, all uttered since March 1st of this year.

And of course, all of them ring decidedly true and make perfect sense. Even Trump's most ardent opponents have referred to the current situation in which America finds itself as a once in a generation emergency, and that we should be on a wartime footing. They've called for more and more power to be handed to, no, more explicitly they've called for more power to be taken by the President to do battle against "The Invisible Enemy," everything from commandeering manufacturing plants to logistics and shipping companies to pharmaceutical manufacturing and research, to nationalizing the banking sector and all mortgages.

On the other hand, the President has preferred to form a partnership with private industries to wage the war. Turning to America's great companies to produce masks, respirators, ventilators, medicine and vaccines that will ensure our country can and will prevail.

The United States – and the entire world – is engaged in a great battle, against an unseen enemy. An enemy that threatens to kill our people and destroy our nation and our way of life. It's an enemy that we have seen and fought before, as a people. We have faced this enemy throughout human history, over and over we've had to battle it. All of us are descendants of survivors of the countless previous wars that humanity has had to fight against this hidden enemy of man.

The enemy is a disease. The enemy is a virus.

The enemy is not SARS-CoV-2, Coronavirus.

No, the virus we're battling against is Slavery.

Call it what you want. Socialism. Collectivism. Communism. Statism. Despotism. A one-world government. Those are all forms of the same thing: some people's individual liberty captured for the betterment and benefit of others. All of those are forms of enslaving some men to the will and needs of others.

A virus is a biological construct. It's a biological disease caused by a virus, an unliving, unthinking sliver of organic material and takes over cells to turn them into factories that produce more viral particles to take over more cells until, ultimately, the host is killed. Doing battle against a virus requires treating both the symptoms caused by infection as well as finding a vaccine that can destroy the virus itself.

But slavery is a political and moral construct. It's a social disease caused by an immoral idea, spread by unthinking, unfeeling human beings who transmit the disease to others turning them into factories that produce more unthinking, unfeeling human beings. They take over the lives of more and more people within a society or a country until that country is destroyed. Doing battle against slavery requires treating both the symptoms caused by the infection within a society as well as finding a cure that can destroy the idea itself.

President Donald Trump is absolutely correct. This is a war.

President Donald Trump is absolutely correct. This is a war. He's also correct, we have fought this type of war before.

But this is not a war against a coronavirus. That's child's play. Terrible though it may be and despite the thousands of lives we may lose to COVID-19, it's relatively straightforward how to defeat it. Prevent the spread, find a cure. And we will. America and the world will survive this pandemic as it has survived a million others in our past. Each of us is the descendent of survivors of a thousand biological plagues.

The President rightly stated, we cannot let the cure for COVID-19 be worse than the disease itself. And he has the right idea in terms of the outcome here: we can't let our response to coronavirus destroy the American economy.

But saving the American economy isn't really the objective. A healthy, productive American economy that enables people to generate wealth and accumulate things is a consequence, an outcome, it's not a cause in itself. What has enabled the American economy to be the most robust and powerful engine for human ingenuity, productivity and wealth generation in world history is individual liberty? Men free to think and build, to seek new achievements and to be rewarded for doing so, to collaborate with each other, to challenge and compete with each other, driving each other to be smarter, to work harder, to find the better way to solve problems.

That is America. That is the battle we're in, what we're fighting to save. Beating COVID-19 is easy, it's only a matter of time. This particular virus may be new to us, but we know the formula for its defeat, much like the long-march to destroy the NAZI war machine in World War II, the writing was on the wall long before Berlin fell. Germany's defeat was inevitable once America entered the war. So too, the defeat of SARS-CoV-2 is already a foregone conclusion, the application of human ingenuity and thousands of years of human inventiveness and knowledge ensures our ultimate victory over this latest scourge.

But that is not the great threat. If the cure for COVID-19 is the slavery of some men for the benefit and betterment of others, then perhaps it would be better for COVID-19 to take us all. If the cost of defeating the biological virus is that we succumb to the political and moral disease of collectivism, then Trump's fear will have been proved right and the cure will have been worse than the disease.

Look at what's being proposed here. In the US, the government should take over every major industry, from healthcare and pharmaceutical companies to grocery and food delivery to airlines to shipping and transportation. Construction, take it over! Banking system, take it over! Stock market, take it over!

And on the global stage, the United Nations is now calling for a permanent 10% global tax on the GDP of every country.

And on the global stage, the United Nations is now calling for a permanent 10% global tax on the GDP of every country.
Ostensibly designed to fight COVID-19, but made permanent to enable the UN to fight future pandemics, as well as the ongoing pandemic of Climate Change…oh, and Poverty and Income Inequality, and sexism and nationalism and a thousand other isms they believe are unfair.

The United States is less than 5% of the World's population, but we represent over 25% of the world's GDP. So, the UN is effectively proposing that about 4% of the population transfer 10% of our wealth each year to support the remaining 96% of the human race, including supporting countries who are our enemies and who seek our very destruction.

What is proposed here is nothing short of the permanent enslavement of the United States for the betterment and benefit of every other national on earth.

There is no doubt the human race will survive COVID-19. Human beings have survived a thousand similar pandemics with barely more than a blip in our progress as a species.

But the plague of collectivism, the idea that some men should be slaves to others, that some people have some sort of right to lay claim to the intellect and productive energy of others, that is the real battle. That is the true invisible enemy that we must yet again defeat.

Ask yourself, would you have some right to charge into Mike Lindell's My Pillow bedding factory and point a gun at him and his workers to force them to produce cotton face masks to avoid being shot? No, of course the idea sounds preposterous and all rational thinking human beings would clearly see that as an immoral, criminal act. And yet many people are proposing that we do exactly that, just the gunman wears a blue UN Helmet or carries a US Marshall's badge.

Alternatively, does Mike Lindell have the right to choose to convert his factory over to making cotton face masks, at his own expense and to pay his workers to make those masks instead of making pillows? Yes, that is moral, that is a human being engaged in activity that he believes to be virtuous and right and, yes, for the love of all that is holy — profitable.

Just as with COVID-19, the defeat of all forms of slavery should be an inevitability. And yet from every corner of our country, the call is for the forced enslavement of some people for the benefit of others.

President Trump has this right. We cannot let the cure for COVID-19 come at the cost of our economy. And if that is the objective, then it is our original principles: individual liberty, freedom of movement and speech, that is what must be defended. That is how we protect and restore our economy and our country. That is how we ensure that our children's children will also be descendants of survivors of plagues and pandemics, whether they are the biological - or the moral kind.

UPDATE: Here's how the discussion went on radio. Watch the video below.


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