Friday, May 29, marks an important milestone in the reform and reorientation of America’s long-standing policy towards China.
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Prefacing the Rose Garden announcement, President Trump summarized the key strategic theme Friday on which he first built his campaign and then his administration: fair and reciprocal treatment from China.
What followed were the tactical steps necessary to implement that vision. They were steps that represent real progress in the ongoing recognition of reality and the restoration of realism in U.S. policy towards China.
Friday’s actions included termination of the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), an initiative to secure sensitive university research, a project to secure U.S. financial markets, and elimination of policy exemptions previously giving Hong Kong special treatment and separate status under U.S. policy.
Each of these moves is directly linked to enduring failure by China’s government to honor commitments and also are linked to areas where the U.S. is not treated with fairness and reciprocity.
With regard to the WHO, China lied and people (along with jobs) died.
Overwhelming U.S. financial support for the organization resulted in manipulation and malice affecting millions of Americans and millions of U.S. jobs.
On education and research, for far too long Communist Chinese “students” have gained privileged access to cutting edge research at U.S. universities and firms, with nowhere near similar access for U.S. researchers in China, with the net result all too often being compromise of sensitive commercial and security-related technologies.
For decades, Chinese individuals and entities have accessed U.S. markets without having to meet the transparency standards that Americans and others are required to meet.
President Trump is correct to restore fairness and reciprocity in these markets, protecting the interests of American investors.
Finally, on Hong Kong, China tragically kicked the legs out from under what was a tremendously beneficial relationship with the Hong Kong people and the wider world.
Beijing appears intent on killing the goose that laid golden eggs, the engine that fueled and financed China’s own remarkable economic expansion in recent decades.
The only silver lining in Hong Kong is the remarkable resiliency and commitment demonstrated by the majority of Hong Kong residents to stand up for their rights and their future.
The sanctions announced Friday, along with the other policy adjustments, are just a start when it comes to imposing costs on those responsible.
Expect more to come from not just the U.S., but from our allies who now also see China much more clearly.
President Trump deserves a great deal of credit in leading the United States in the direction of a much more realistic approach to China. It has not been -- and will not be -- easy.
Make no mistake, however, that each of Friday’s announcements would not have been necessary if the Communist leader of China, Xi Jinping, had not first moved his own country aggressively in the direction of ethno-nationalism.
His leadership is proving that the People’s Republic of China is unable to peacefully co-exist with a free society.
That is the clearest present danger to our way of life and those of our friends and allies around the world.
The Communist Party has prepared for this challenge for decades, with assistance from us unfortunately. Much more work remains to be done in order for this generation of free people to meet this challenge.
Steve Yates is former deputy national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney and currently CEO at DC International Advisory. He can be found on Twitter @YatesDCIA.