The world’s attention has once again turned to China this month as they host this year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.
These Winter Games, dubbed by some as the ‘Genocide Games’, are much more than a major sporting event as they come shrouded in controversy and heightened political tensions.
Over the past several decades China has been expanding its presence as a geopolitical powerhouse on the global stage, a development that the US has kept a close eye on from Washington DC
One of the people keeping tabs on the issue is Isaac Stone Fish, an international affairs analyst, founder and CEO of the consultancy firm Strategy Risks and author of the new book America Second: How America’s Elites Are Making China Stronger.
“I wrote the book out of frustration with the ways that prominent Americans talked about and thought about China,” Stone Fish told Newsweek.
In his new book, Stone Fish explores how China courted political elites in the US in a bid to advance Chinese interests in the States and influence their standing on the global stage.
The author considers China’s lobbying efforts to be a form of “corruption,” and described it as “a long, fascinating, and psychologically manipulating process.”
“What they’re trying to do is change the way Americans talk and think about China. They want to portray China as both peaceful and not a threat to the US, and that China’s rise is inevitable. They want to have both of those things .
“That [message is that] ‘this is the new reality and there’s nothing you can do to stop it, but you don’t have to worry about it anyway because China’s always been peaceful’, and these are, of course, lies,” Stone Fish stated.
He argues that China has bided its time and exerted its influence in the US through a series of key figures who have remained a constant in American circles of power, including political heavyweights such as Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright and even Hollywood hardman Steven Seagal.
Predicting the long-term evolution of the relationship between the US and China is a speculative affair, though Stone Fish is wary of a worst-case scenario outcome: potential armed conflict.
“These things are difficult to predict, but it’s not unlikely that the US and China will be on opposing sides of a war, perhaps even directly against each other in the next several years. Whether over Taiwan or a large handful of other countries in Asia ,” he said.
You can read an excerpt from America Second below.
Introduction – America Second: How America’s Elites Are Making China Stronger.
America Second is a book about the pernicious aspects of the Party’s influence in America. And it’s a book about how to fight back without being McCarthyist or racist: tactics like partnering with American allies, exposing unethical and illegal corporate behavior in China, restricting American institutions’ ability to support the genocide in Xinjiang and strengthen the Party, and not stigmatizing Chinese Americans. For decades, Beijing successfully incentivized many elite Americans to strengthen China at the cost of America. In targeted and sophisticated ways, American policy needs to remove those incentives.
I’m pro-China (much as one can be for or against any country, especially one as massive and multifaceted as China). I lived in China for six years. I’ve visited all of its twenty-two provinces, its four municipalities, its five (questionably named) autonomous regions, including Xinjiang and Tibet, the “special” administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and the country of Taiwan, which Beijing has long disingenuously claimed. But I am anti-Party. I would love to live in China again, and when the Party is finally excised from leadership, perhaps I will.
Chinese officials love to remind Americans that “China has five thousand years of history.” But the Party has ruled for only seventy-two of those years, far less time than many of the dynasties that preceded it. One of the many tricks the Party plays is convincing both Chinese and Americans that its rule over China is inevitable. It’s not.
The Party exercises its influence over America quite differently than the Russian president Vladimir Putin’s regime. Instead of engendering chaos to weaken America, the Party works in quieter ways, in ways that attract less attention and intrigue. More than anything else, it speaks the soft language of corruption. For many years, the Party has seduced and corrupted certain individual Americans and their companies and agencies. The list of individuals is long and unfortunately distinguished: Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, the Disney CEO Bob Iger, and the former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley have all advanced the Party’s interests in America.
In early 2017, US counterintelligence officials warned Trump’s aid and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a naturalized American citizen and the former wife of the press baron, may be working “to further the interests of the Chinese government .” People like Carter, Albright, and Iger further the interests of the Chinese government, but they almost certainly do so unintentionally, which makes it more effective and more dangerous.
This is a book about greed and compromises and the strange forms that influence can take. This is a book about how the Walt Disney Company helped destroy the Tibet movement and how Steven Seagal and Mike Tyson spread Party propaganda. It’s about how and why Disney thanked a Chinese public security bureau that rounded up Muslims and sent them to concentration camps, LeBron James criticized the Houston Rockets’ general manager for supporting democracy in Hong Kong, Marriott fired an employee for supporting Tibet, Boeing ran ads praising Beijing, Sheldon Adelson personally lobbied to kill a bill condemning China’s human rights record, and Ronald Reagan called China a “so-called Communist country.” It’s a book about the career of Henry Kissinger, especially after he started his consulting business, Kissinger Associates, in 1982.
“The arc of the moral universe is long,” Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “but it bends toward justice.” That was in 1967, however, when a shambolic China barely managed to exert global influence. Today, the wealthy and powerful country that China has become exerts a powerful force on the world and on America. In subtle and sophisticated ways, Beijing persuades, cajoles, and cudgels some American companies, institutions, and individuals to promote the values of the Party, parrot the Party’s views, and enshrine self-censorship about China in their corporate and individual cultures. A pattern of acceptance of Chinese influence has emerged, with variance mostly in degree rather than direction. The arc of the moral universe remains long, but it now bends toward accommodation.
Just how vigilant should Americans be about Beijing? And relatedly, what does the Party want from America? It’s important to recognize the limits of our understanding of what Chinese leaders think: we know about as much about the top of the Party today as we did about Soviet leaders during the 1950s. Does Xi wish to destroy or subvert American democracy, or coexist peacefully with it? I don’t know. There is no known plan of Chinese dominance, no “hundred-year marathon” to overtake the United States by 2049. I don’t believe Beijing is pursuing a grand strategy to defeat America or render it powerless. It cannot be emphasized enough just how intertwined our economy is with China’s—even after years of decoupling under Trump and President Joe Biden.
But evidence suggests that what the Party wants is for America to yield. It wants Americans to recognize their mistakes and apologize. Beijing wants America as a reliable and pliant Second to China’s First. A dutiful friend.