The insularity of American politics can obscure other problems just as important as the pantheon we seem so dangerously preoccupied with day to day (Bannon, Trump, Sanders, etc). Some of these issues exist on the international landscape, but also are having significant effects in the US. The Russia investigation, while important, is still tied to the immediate gratification-centric atmosphere of tit-for-tat Trumpian politics.
Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections has persisted, but the shadow of the Kremlin seems to give China the gift a strategic obscurity.
While Trump’s recently released National Security Strategy targets Chinese influence on American institutions, it’s unclear what that might entail, or if the the government’s investigation will have a satisfactory follow-through.
China has enormous financial influence in various institutions, from movie studios to American Universities. Journalists also aren’t immune to pressure that Beijing can exert.
Let’s dissemble the effects.
Even though China is studied by Think Tanks, much of the funding flows from China. The obvious connection there is that studies will be biased in a way that favors China.
Journalists might seem insulated from Xi Jinping’s crackdown on free speech, but if they are seen as too aggressive, visas can be withheld. So in this example there isn’t a direct financial line between news organizations and China, but there are still financial repercussions to those organizations and individuals that initially seem a bit too courageous.
American Universities, seen as beacons of objectivity, are bendable under the weight of Chinese financial and social pressure.
One student faced a backlash over social media because he praised free speech. Universities can also face pressure in the form of threats that they won’t receive more Chinese students if policies are enacted or activities occur that aren’t palatable to the People’s Republic of China.
These examples might seem like cause enough for alarm, but what should be getting just as much attention is China’s attempts to influence governments in other countries, such as Australia. The Chinese government recently criticized the Australian government for implementing laws that make foreign interference more difficult. China has targeted other countries as well, namely New Zealand and Canada.
Xi Jinping utilizes a vast economy and business-related ties to heavily influence other countries, and it’s true that those nations are at least semi-conscious of that fact, yet efforts to subdue Beijing’s aggression aren’t as full-fledged as they might be if the consequences weren’t so clearly in mind.
Unfortunately, globalization in this very specific instance seems to act as a scaffolding for Xi Jinping’s authoritarian impulses. Intertwined economies can easily be used as threats, so that even when a dystopian narrative emerges, there seems to be limited set of options at a nation’s disposal to rail against it.
I also want to say that I do not support the isolationism given such a large platform under Trumpian politics. In other words, how do you stop a flaming rock from smashing into your position without pissing off the rock?