When word leaked that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intended to visit the Republic of China during her Asia junket, the communists ruling mainland China had a fit. The promised “serious consequences.” The consequences were unnamed at the time the threat was made, but now we know what they had in mind.
According to Xi’s stenography outlet, the Global Times, this is what we lost.
In the words of Winston Churchill, “Jaw-jaw is better than war-war.” That said, it is rather difficult to see how we lose anything worth mentioning. I’ve never been a huge fan of the US military developing lines of communication with their Chinese counterparts that bypass the White House. The danger of that ability was brought home in a stark and nearly treasonous way when General Mark Milley called the Chinese to pledge that the US had no plans to attack China. While I understand the purpose of the military talks is to reduce the risk of bad things happening accidentally, I’d also remind everyone that the only beneficiary of these talks is China. In theory, the 2001 incident of the EP-3E Aeries intelligence aircraft rammed by a Chinese fighter (piloted, ironically, by a muppet named Wang Wei) because procedures to avoid this happening had been coordinated in these military talks. In practice, the Chinese learn about our procedures and how we will react; we learn jacksh** about how they will respond.
The “suspended” items are jokes as well. You can’t have anything but clownish discussions on “counternarcotics cooperation” when China is the source of the thousands of tons of fentanyl sold illegally in the US, either directly or by selling precursors to Mexican cartels, The business model of China depends upon the theft of intellectual property. There is no evidence that chatting with them about the issue over dim sum is making any difference.
On the other hand, China uses these formal mechanisms for intelligence gathering and to suborn people involved in the discussions.
Another positive aspect of China’s stompy-foot rage is its imposition of sanctions on Pelosi and her family. We don’t know what the sanctions entail, but we can hope that they include the financial activities of Paul Pelosi. I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that Pelosi’s trip was as much about some grift involving stock prices and the international crisis she created as it was about supporting freedom for the people living in Taiwan.
We should pick up the lead from the ChiComs and begin drastically scaling back contacts with them other than the minimum. We need to regulate the flow of Chinese students into our universities and devote some serious energy to ensuring that intelligence apparatchiks aren’t seeded to keep an eye on students. We need to onshore critical manufacturing and rigorously enforce export controls.
Under Biden, there is little chance of that happening. Joe Biden has ordered the counterintelligence program that targeted intellectual property theft by ChiCom operatives on American campuses shut down; see Joe Biden’s Justice Department Shuts Down China-Focused Counterintelligence Programs Because Hurt Feelings Matter. Biden is spending more time worrying about what compromising material China has on him and Hunter than he is about our security.