Attorney General William Barr warned on Thursday that the Chinese Communist Party has launched an “economic blitzkrieg” to topple the US from its perch as the world’s superpower, laying out the threat as the most important issue of this century and calling for the free world to join together in a “whole of society approach” against it.
“How the United States responds to this challenge will have historic implications and will determine whether the United States and its liberal democratic allies will continue to shape their own destiny or whether the CCP and its autocratic tributaries will control the future,” Barr said during a speech at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“The People’s Republic of China is now engaged in an economic blitzkrieg — an aggressive, orchestrated, whole-of-government (indeed, whole-of-society) campaign to seize the commanding heights of the global economy and to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower,” he continued.
By exceeding World Trade Organization quotas on domestic output, “it is clear that the PRC seeks not merely to join the ranks of other advanced industrial economies, but to replace them altogether.
“The General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, who has centralized power to a degree not seen since the dictatorship of Mao Zedong, now speaks openly of China moving ‘closer to center stage,’ ‘building a socialism that is superior to capitalism,’ and replacing the American Dream with the ‘Chinese solution.’”
Barr said China’s “Made in China 2025” initiative seeks to dominate high-tech industries like robotics and information technology and electric vehicles, which “poses a real threat to US technological leadership.”
“‘Made in China 2025’ is the latest iteration of the PRC’s state-led, mercantilist economic model. For American companies in the global marketplace, free and fair competition with China has long been a fantasy.”
Barr noted that America aided China’s rise by granting the country favored-trading status in 1980 and supporting its joining the World Trade Organization a decade later.
China “used tariffs and quotas to pressure American companies to give up their technology and form joint ventures with Chinese companies. Regulators then discriminated against American firms, using tactics like holding up permits. Yet few companies, even Fortune 500 giants, have been willing to bring a formal trade complaint for fear of angering Beijing,” he said.
Even more, Barr said American companies have become dependent on the China markets to provide “vital goods and services” – a situation that has been emphasized during the pandemic.
Barr said the Chinese Communist Party has launched an “orchestrated” campaign enlisting the government and society to “exploit the openness of our institutions in order to destroy them.”
To counter Beijing’s efforts and “to secure a world of freedom and prosperity for our children and grandchildren,” Barr said the free world will have to mount its own “whole-of-society approach.”
“America has done that before. If we rekindle our love and devotion for our country and each other, I am confident that we – the American people, American government, and American business together – can do it again. Our freedom depends on it,” he said.
Barr called on America’s corporate executives and the tech giants of Silicon Valley to defy China’s encroachment.
“The ultimate ambition of China’s rulers isn’t to trade with the United States. It is to raid the United States,” he said.
Barr also warned those who believe trade and investment would appease and liberalize China that it has no desire to be an open and democratic society.
“As its ruthless crackdown of Hong Kong demonstrates once again, China is no closer to democracy today than it was in 1989 when tanks confronted pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. It remains an authoritarian, one-party state in which the Communist Party wields absolute power, unchecked by popular elections, the rule of law, or an independent judiciary,” he said.
Barr said American companies, hungry for short-term profits, have come under Beijing’s influence – “even at the expense of freedom and openness in the United States.”
“Globalization does not always point in the direction of greater freedom. A world marching to the beat of Communist China’s drums will not be a hospitable one for institutions that depend on free markets, free trade, or the free exchange of ideas,” he said.
In retaliation for Beijing imposing a strict new national security law on Hong Kong to crackdown on pro-democracy protests, President Trump signed an executive order this week slapping sanctions on Chinese officials.
It also removes Hong Kong from special trade status it had enjoyed with the US when it was semi-autonomous.
Trump also said he’s “not interested” in meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi JInping to hammer out a phase two trade deal.
The Trump administration has accused China of downplaying the severity of the coronavirus after the first cases were reported in late December in Wuhan, China, and falsely reporting the number of cases.
The United Kingdom this week under pressure from the US ordered Chinese tech giant Huawei to remove its equipment from Britain’s 5G wireless network by 2017.