On Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) argued against a law allowing Americans to sue China for its malfeasance in the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. While she made an important point — allowing Americans to sue China might lead other countries to let their citizens sue the U.S. — she also praised China as “growing into a respectable nation.”
Yes, she said this about the country that lied about the coronavirus pandemic, enabling it to spread across the world. She said this about the country that persecutes religious minorities, forcing Christian churches to sing praises to the Communist Party if they wanted to reopen from a coronavirus lockdown. She said this about the country that set up islands to assert dominance over the South China Sea, engaged in skirmishes at the border with India, and seized Hong Kong in violation of the treaty with Britain. She said this about the country that puts Uyghur Muslims in re-education camps.
“Where I live, we don’t hold China… we hold China as a potential trading partner, as a country that has pulled tens of millions of people out of poverty in a short period of time, and as a country growing into a respectable nation among other nations. And I deeply believe that,” Feinstein said.
This Democrat senator apparently overlooked Chinese President Xi Jinping’s doubling down on communism, his oppression of religious minorities, his territorial ambitions, and abuses that justify comparisons to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
While China has aimed at modernization and a more capitalistic economy in recent decades, Xi Jinping has brought communism back with a flourish. In October 2017, Xi gave a terrifying speech calling for “national rejuvenation.” He pushed for a more explicitly communist constitution and advocated a more aggressive socialism. Xi also announced he would rebuild the military, aiming for “combat capability” and declaring, “A military is built to fight.”
Thanks in large part to the heinous one-child policy, China has a surplus of young men and a deficit of young women. This adds to a desire for foreign aggression.
Beijing has indeed been flexing its muscles. China built floating islands in the South China Sea in order to claim naval territory. In May, Xi sent soldiers into disputed lands between China and India, sparking more than a month of skirmishes in a border war. Late last month, Beijing imposed “direct authoritarian rule” over Hong Kong, arguably violating the treaty by which China gained limited control over Hong Kong from Britain. Worse, China has also set its sights on Taiwan, the last vestige of pre-Communist Party rule in China.
Xi’s propaganda suggests he identifies with Mao Zedong, the brutal communist dictator who unleashed the Cultural Revolution. As the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged China’s economy, the Communist Party has forced Christians who receive government benefits to choose between their faith or their government aid. Local officials have even barged into Christians’ houses, taking down crosses and posters of Jesus and replacing them with portraits of Xi and Mao.
As for the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party lied to cover it up early on, and waited until five million people had already left Wuhan before locking down the city at the center of the outbreak. The party also reportedly destroyed early samples of the virus and silenced doctors who tried to warn the world about it. A University of Southampton study found that if the Communist Party had enacted quarantine measures three weeks earlier, the coronavirus spread would have been reduced by 95 percent.
When the World Health Organization (WHO) tweeted that the coronavirus might transmit from person to person, the Chinese government told the WHO to remove that statement, and the WHO complied. China requested personal protective equipment (PPE) from across the world and received 2.4 billion pieces. Later, when other countries asked China for PPE, China extorted them — only sending valuable medical aid if political leaders agreed to publicly praise Beijing. Chinese companies also sent faulty medical gear to European countries and to the U.S. Meanwhile, the Communist Party also prevented U.S. companies from shipping their own medical gear back home, where it is sorely needed.
The State of Missouri has already filed a lawsuit to hold China accountable, and there is a growing chorus of voices demanding the U.S. sue the Chinese Communist Party in an international court. China has even threatened U.S. senators by name who dared to call Beijing to account for its malfeasance. Americans want to see China held accountable.
Yet arguably the worst aspect of China’s oppression — and the one that most resembles Hitler — involves its treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang. Beijing has allegedly imprisoned one million members of Muslim minority groups in what China defends as de-radicalization and retraining centers.
Human rights activists have compared the camps to prisons and worse, claiming that inmates are sentenced there with little due process. The Uyghurs (the largest Muslim minority targeted) and others are compelled to denounce their religion, language, and culture and to pledge allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping. According to an Associated Press investigation, Uyghur women are forced to use birth control or undergo involuntary sterilizations.
It does not appear that these Uyghur camps are death camps exactly like the Holocaust, but they are the closest modern analog to that 20th-century horror.
This is the country that Dianne Feinstein thinks is “growing into a respectable nation”? What, exactly, does she consider “respectable”?
Feinstein may be right to warn about retribution if the federal government allows Americans to sue China, but her declaration that China is “growing into a respectable nation” amid the abuse of the Uyghurs, coronavirus malfeasance, Christian persecution, the Hong Kong takeover, and other efforts at foreign aggression, is absurd and dangerous. It smacks of Neville Chamberlain-style appeasement.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.