In escalating tensions between two world superpowers and further breakdown in ground-level diplomacy, U.S officials believe they cracked “a hub of spying and IP theftÂ” by the Chinese Communist Party, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Houston on Friday. Under orders from the Trump administration, federal officials and local law enforcement stormed the Houston facility forty minutes after the 4 P.M. eviction deadline. The Houston Chronicle reported spotting Chinese consulate workers loading up two U-Haul trucks and vehicles while tossing trash bags in a nearby dumpster in the morning before the 4 P.M. eviction deadline.
U.S. Officials tried three other entrances but couldnÂ’t manage to enter the vacated consulate. After two hours, government officials left the Houston police and security teams at the scene.
Tuesday night, the Houston Fire Department responded to fires at the courtyard of the building hours after the Trump administration announced its directive for the Chinese to vacate, presumably to burn revealing documents since Chinese officials prevented first responders from putting out the fires.
Â“We can confirm that the PRC Consulate General in Houston is closed,â€ť a State Department spokesperson told Fox News.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., described the consulate as a â€śmassive spy center [and] forcing it to close is long overdue.â€ť U.S. Intelligence alleged the consulate tried to steal data from multiple facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
China smeared these allegations Â“malicious slanderÂ” and ordered the U.S. consulate in the western Chinese city of Chengdu to close alongside the Chinese consulate in Houston. The South China Morning Post documented three trucks and a bus entering and leaving the consulate while workers on foot left with boxes and files in their arms in response to the Chinese demands. Reuters confirmed the American consulate closed in the trade-off of consulates.
With the nation in blinding disarray and nearly irreconcilable political divides exasperated under issues of race and public health, we cannot allow ourselves to lose sight of our global enemies who wish to eradicate us. As President Ronald Reagan put it, Â“We donâ€™t have enemies,Â we have opponents.Â”Â If we slip into tribalistic clubbing of our political adversaries rather than oppose and compromise within our collective solutions, we cease the pursuit of solving the real problems for Americans and leave ourselves open to a quiet yet steady obliteration.
Of course, the Houston consulate merely represents another rung in the ladder of escalation between two giants but much exists between peace (or obliviousness) and total war. A consulate tit-for-tat will not spark a nuclear war nor should America welcome it. Instead, the struggle against the vile evil of China, and that does mean vile, will come through methodical economic warfare. Culturally, as well.
But to ignore China and refuse to consider them Americaâ€™s most dangerous geopolitical threat for the next century would be foolish. Their censorship, their deliberate cover-up of the coronavirus, whose origins already raises countless red flags, cost the world over a half a million deaths and trillions of dollars and yet they blamed the United States Army for the pandemic. America is the victim to a pandemic they unleashed, with global chaos brazenly taken advantage of by the Chinese Communist Party. And their culpability has finally awoken some to the threat of China in Washington.
Losing the sanctuary of Hong Kong will not go down easy. Since the British returned Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997, China promised to comply with international law granted the region relative independence and freedoms. But 2019 saw massive pro-democracy protests in the streets of Hong Kong as China began suffocating such liberties, garnering global support, however to no avail. As America riots in the streets and take Aunt Jemima off of syrup bottles, China has all but eliminated Hong Kongâ€™s independence under its totalitarian boot and now wields a critical economic weapon against the United States.
Hong Kong grants China an out of United Statesâ€™ sanctions and restrictions on trade, negating some usually devastating economic strikes on China. And next, China has its sights set on the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Japan and Taiwan have seen fly-overs and even part of India has fallen to the Chinese Communist Party. The meteoric rise of Chinaâ€™s global influence has entered dangerous territory and America must take their threat seriously.
Already on American soil, China has a long reputation of stealing American patents, everything from the industrial to the military. Billions of dollars lost due to the Chinese Communist Party stealing American patents and intellectual property. One in five North American-based corporations on the CNBC Global CFO Council reported Chinese companies have stolen their intellectual property during 2018 and 2019.
Â“China has institutionalized a system that combines legal and illegal means of technology acquisition from abroad,Â” said William Schneider Jr., former undersecretary of state for security assistance, science and technology and former chair of the Defense Science Board. One of the most glaring, telecommunications giant Huawei, acquired 56,000 5G and artificial intelligence-related Chinese patentsÂ and spent next to nothing, scrutinizing the legitimacy of the company and leading President Trump to ban American companies from working with Huawei until May 2021.
Their stranglehold on the tech world exposes the entire world to their spying and censorship. One of the largest social media platforms, TikTok, poses serious national security concerns, since built by Beijing-based firm ByteDance, by collecting obscene amounts of data on its users. Cyber experts at ProtonMail warned, â€śBeware. (TikTok) not only collects troves of personal data on you (sometimes without your consent), but also cooperates with the CCP, extending ChinaÂ’s surveillance and censorship reach beyond its borders.â€ť
Only the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States can draw a parallel between the modern tensions with China. And China will be defeated in the same fashion. As all totalitarian dictatorships, their seemingly unstoppable might relies solely on their domineering of their people and, once the people see the light of freedom and of liberty, the system will come down. Hong Kong is the modern Berlin and the people of Hong Kongâ€™s struggle against China goes beyond the struggle for their freedom-its the first chance at global resistance against China. And this terrifies the Chinese regime, spurning the swift and cruel crackdown.
But once the Reagan brought the hammer of the bully pulpit upon the Soviet Union, they crumbled. The acknowledgment of the mortal threat the Soviets face and then, rather than believing the academics who saw no way to topple the Soviet Union, demanding Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall cracked the Soviet machine. Trump must do the same to China. Not only employ the bully pulpit but shine the light of freedom upon the people through Hong Kong.
Thanks to their culpability of the coronavirus pandemic and their subsequent cover-up, the serious threat of China has finally entered the global conversation. Though the geopolitical threat will loom for decades, we cannot pretend any longer that a rising China doesnâ€™t put the world and America at risk. The untapped economic potential of China cannot usurp the simple fact an evil dictator regime suppresses all liberties and civil rights of their people and has their sights on the rest of the world.
We must not allow that to continue. Not through nuclear war, but gradual economic hits, cultural resistance, and allowing that light of freedom to shine on their people. Sentiments of encouragement towards Chinese expansion must end or we risk sacrificing all influence to a despicable, self-serving regime with no accountability to their people or to the world. And America must lead that fight.
Political Communications major at Illinois State University. Vince aut morire, my fellow patriots.