GOP candidates must stand up for freedom, against Communist tyranny in China – Orange County Register
We are the good guys.
Those five simple words can be a radical statement in America these days. Many in our own country have set out to convince us that the United States lacks the moral authority to lead the free world. And though we believe self-criticism is a vital part of democracy, we can’t lose track of the fact that we are the good guys.
President Reagan understood this fully. He was the foremost evangelist for faith in the goodness of the American people, especially when compared with the inhumanity of Marxist-Leninist regimes.
Reagan denied any moral equivalence between our two systems. To win the Cold War, Reagan knew he had to win the ideological war. He had to show that the contest with communism was not just about two different ways to organize economies, but about an existential struggle for individual freedoms against totalitarian oppression.
Today, we find ourselves in a New Cold War. One where the Chinese Communist Party aims to maximize its global power at the expense of the United States and the liberal norms that we, and our allies, have sustained for decades. As Republican presidential hopefuls take the stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library this week, they have an opportunity to channel the Great Communicator and clearly articulate to the American people not just how we win this New Cold War, but why we must win.
First, aspirants for the Republican Presidential nomination must properly frame this conflict in terms the American people can understand. President Biden may call this a strategic competition, but let’s be clear: The battle with the Chinese Communist Party is not a polite tennis match. This is a fight that will define the 21st century.
At every opportunity, the candidates should highlight the cover-ups in Wuhan, the tyranny of Xi Jinping’s Zero-Covid policy, the broken promises in Hong Kong, the forced separation of children from families in Tibet, and the concentration camps of Xinjiang.
They should highlight how the CCP does not recognize the inherent value of an individual, how it seizes the passports of its citizens, clamps down on visas for the rest of the country, silences dissenters, and even establishes police stations around the world to hunt those who have fled their borders.
To wage Reagan-style ideological warfare, Republican candidates must make sure people know the genocidal, techno-totalitarian truth about the CCP.
Secondly, the candidates should outline their specific plans to make it more difficult for the CCP to use emerging technologies to control and repress its people. Taking a page from the Reagan administration’s emphasis on blocking the transfer of sensitive technologies to the Soviet Union, the candidates should articulate a plan to block U.S. exports from supporting party-directed firms such as Huawei and SMIC, ban TikTok, and prevent American dollars from funding the CCP’s development of critical technologies like semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and more.
Finally, Republican candidates must differentiate between the Chinese people and the Chinese Communist Party. Just as Reagan sympathized with Soviet citizens against the system that oppressed them, the United States must make clear we have no quarrel with the people of China. Rather, we are on their side and on the side of freedom.
This means protecting Chinese Americans and Chinese dissidents living in the United States from the long arm of CCP espionage, intelligence, and police services, and making sure our country remains a haven from persecution, not a hunting ground for authoritarian regimes.
The Biden administration has taken a few constructive actions, inking new regional basing agreements and drafting important new export controls. But largely missing from the Biden administration’s strategy is the kind of ideological war that Ronald Reagan waged against the Soviet Union.
From delaying critical sanctions on CCP officials responsible for the Uyghur genocide to humiliatingly sending State Department officials to the PRC on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Biden administration has repeatedly pulled punches when it comes to standing up to CCP human rights abuses. The administration mistakenly believes these concessions are necessary to secure further engagement. But they have it precisely backwards: the more you wring your hands over whether you’re provoking a Marxist-Leninist regime that has no respect for international rules, the more you incentivize that regime to act “provoked” at the most insignificant slight.
President Reagan understood this. “If some of you fear taking a stand,” he said, “because you are afraid of reprisals…recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last.”
This is a message the Biden administration seems to have missed and a lesson Republican presidential hopefuls have a chance to articulate at the Reagan Library.
President Reagan famously said: “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity.”
This was President Reagan’s more eloquent way of saying: We are the good guys.
On Wednesday night, Republicans must make clear that the good guys are going to win this New Cold War.
Mike Gallagher is chairman of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. Michelle Steel represents the 45th congressional district.
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