Amid the clash of fundamental values and national security between the U.S. and China, President Joe Biden, after repeatedly asking President Xi Jinping to meet in the U.S., finally realized his dream. Now, the question is not: “How will the U.S. benefit from the meeting?”; rather, it is: “How much will Biden and his Cabinet be further fooled by the Chinese Communist Party?”
Biden and his Cabinet should at least review the following facts about how the CCP has treated the U.S. historically.
In the mid-1940s, when the insurgent CCP was trying to topple the incumbent Kuomintang (the Nationalists), it supported democracy and published a series of editorials in the Xinhua Daily, the official newspaper of the CCP, praising the American political system, including one entitled “The American Independence Day—A Holiday Celebrating the Great Struggle for Freedom and Democracy” (July 4, 1944); “July 4—A Symbol of Democracy and Freedom” (July 4, 1945); “Celebrating American Independence” (July 4, 1946). Many American elites were fooled and became sympathetic to the Chinese communist revolution, and the CCP was able to expand rapidly.
A couple of years later, the CCP defeated the Nationalists and began to rule China with the iron fist of a Marxist proletarian dictatorship. Then, the American ideals of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law all had to be eradicated. In 1949, the founder of the CCP, Mao Zedong, wrote an important essay to wage a campaign against American influence: “There are still some intellectuals and other people in China who have confused ideas and illusions about the United States, so we should persuade, win over, educate, and unite them so that they will stand on the side of the people and not fall for imperialism.”
The CCP under Mao had maintained a strong anti-U.S. stance until the “Great Helmsman” died in 1976. Under Mao’s crazy and ultra-leftist rule, the Chinese economy went bankrupt. After Mao’s death, the CCP was desperate to dig China out of the ruins and conveniently sought out the U.S. for help.
Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping, quickly persuaded the CCP to become a friend of its old foe. In 1979, Deng visited the U.S. and marveled that “the countries that followed the U.S. all became prosperous.” He also coined two phrases that guided China’s economic takeoff. “It doesn’t matter whether it is a black cat or a white cat,” he said, “as long as it catches mice, it is a good cat.” If capitalism could save China, let’s have it. “Hide our claws and bide our time,” he advised. Do not confront the U.S. now; be friends with the U.S., and grow our country.
The U.S. was fooled big time. The American elites eagerly braced Communist China and helped it develop. Bill Clinton “strongly support[ed]” China’s bid to enter the World Trade Organization. Janet Yellen, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, was deeply impressed by the quality of Chinese students on her campus. Commenting on the success of one of her Chinese students, she wrote that his success “provides a demonstration of what is possible when China and the United States come together.” She described “how the stories of China and America merge in just one moment in time to create” successes “so representative of the true spirit of both countries.”
We should note that Deng’s biding-our-time phrase has a key implication: When China becomes strong, it should confront the U.S. That goal has been emerging since Xi Jinping came to power 10 years ago.
Under Xi, China has become the manufacturing hub of the world and has dominated in several key industries through state protection and intervention, including railways, EV batteries, solar energy, and, most recently, automobiles. China’s military buildup has accelerated, and many artificial islands or military posts were constructed in international waters.
Parallel to its economic and military bullying, the CCP intensified the brainwashing of the Chinese people by demonizing the U.S. The cultural campaign against the U.S. reached its height in recent years. For example, between May 23, 2019, and May 31, 2019, the CCP’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, published nine editorials blasting the United States. The CCP’s official TV station, CCTV, described the nine editorials as accusing the United States of destructive behavior, ranging “from disregarding rules, zero-sum games, going against the trend, rejecting competition, a self-centered attitude, to double standards, speaking without credibility, stubbornly persisting in one’s own ways, and self-proclaimed cleverness. If the U.S. insists on going ‘all the way,’ it is choosing a path of self-abandonment. This path is destined to have only one endpoint: failure!”
Unfortunately, to the great dismay of the CCP, its demonization of the United States did not boost its economic performance. The three years of a draconian COVID lockdown has drastically damaged the Chinese economy. The CCP’s harsh treatment of private businesses has caused an exodus of the rich, and its discrimination against foreign businesses and the new campaign to catch foreign spies have scared away foreigners, including investors and tourists.
Obviously, the demonization of the U.S. must be reversed, at least temporarily, to save China’s economy. And the CCP is very good at it.
A few days ago, on Oct. 31, 2023, the very People’s Daily that had been attacking the U.S. in full force published an editorial on its website, People.cn, entitled: “Promoting the Stable and Positive Development of China-U.S. Relations.”
Many in the party’s internet army are confused about the CCP’s 180-degree turn. Some CCP net-fighters complained. I found the following complaint just too good to pass up:
Title: Can’t trash the United States anymore? Suddenly feeling very confused. Then, who should we trash?
I came across a message online saying that anti-American sentiments are no longer allowed, and anyone who opposes America is considered a traitor. I was a bit skeptical, so a netizen presented an article from the People’s Daily as evidence. It seems the situation is changing rapidly. If you don’t stay informed, it’s easy to lose sight of the current state of affairs.
Recently, the People’s Daily published an article titled “Promoting the Stable and Positive Development of China-U.S. Relations.” This can be considered a pivotal article with a clear stance. The article sincerely and earnestly states that China-U.S. relations are the most important bilateral relationship in the world. Whether China and the U.S. can get along correctly is crucial for the future and destiny of humanity. History and reality repeatedly prove that cooperation is the best choice for both China and the U.S. The article emphasizes that when China and the U.S. work together, both benefit and when they fight, both suffer. Cooperation has always been the best option for the two countries.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? It’s from the People’s Daily, after all — broad-minded, visionary, and with a high level of generalization. Admirable and with high principles!
Another netizen shared a heartwarming notice: Due to the warming of China-U.S. relations, comrades are advised not to curse the American imperialists in the near future! As for when to resume cursing, what standards to use, what manner to adopt, and what tone to use will be notified separately. We hope comrades consider the overall situation!
Interestingly, Yellen echoed the CCP’s sudden change by saying that the U.S. has pledged to take steps to improve U.S.–China relations: “We do not seek to decouple our economy from China’s. This would be damaging to both the U.S. and China and destabilizing for the world.”
The CCP uses the U.S. for its own purposes and effectively brainwashes and manipulates the Chinese to fool the American people. While I am not hopeful that my writing will completely cool down the infatuation of the Bidens and Yellens with the CCP, at least it can act like a bucket of cold water to wake them up.
It is time to stop being so naïve!
Shaomin Li is a professor of International Business at Old Dominion University.