【 Washington Post 】   Post Date: 11/29/2018
China specialists who long supported engagement are now warning of Beijing’s efforts to influence American society
Author: Washington Post
A distinguished group of China specialists who have long championed engagement with Beijing are now advocating the United States take a more skeptical view of what they see as growing Chinese efforts to undermine democratic values, including free-speech rights, both here and abroad.
A distinguished group of China specialists who have long championed engagement with Beijing are now advocating the United States take a more skeptical view of what they see as growing Chinese efforts to undermine democratic values, including free-speech rights, both here and abroad.
 
“Except for Russia, no other country’s efforts to influence American politics and society is as extensive and well-funded as China’s,” the specialists say in a report to be issued Thursday by a working group convened by the Hoover Institution and the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations.
 
[Pence asserts Beijing has sought to undermine U.S. interests across the globe]
 
The report — titled “Chinese Influence & American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance” — pulls together a range of examples of Chinese operations, from legitimate activities such as lobbying to more “covert, coercive or corrupting” behavior such as pressuring Chinese students studying in the United States to spy on their Chinese peers on American campuses.
Most noteworthy is the roster of contributors to the report, many of whom have been leading advocates of engagement. It includes Winston Lord, a U.S. ambassador to China in the 1980s who accompanied Henry Kissinger on his secret 1971 trip to Beijing, which paved the way for China’s opening to the West; Orville Schell, an activist and journalist who has worked on U.S.-China relations over the past half-century; and Evan Medeiros, a senior director for Asia at the National Security Council in the Obama administration.
 
“It’s not as though this is a bunch of hostile, anti-Chinese people,” Lord said. “Yet all of us have become more pessimistic about the trends and feel that we’re at a crossroads in the relationship.”
The turnabout is profound, some working-group members said.
 
“It speaks to the disillusionment of an entire generation of China specialists who thought they were helping China emerge onto the world stage only to discover that the project had gone badly awry,” said contributor James Mulvenon, an expert on Chinese economic espionage and general manager at the defense contractor SOS International.
 
The change has taken place gradually over the past five years as President Xi Jinping has increased repression at home and aggressive behavior abroad. The sharper tone from U.S. specialists comes as the Trump administration has recast China as one of two main strategic threats — the other being Russia. It has made countering Chinese military and economic aggression a top priority.
 
President Trump, who is scheduled to meet with Xi this weekend in South America, has launched a trade war and slapped tariffs on some $250 billion worth of goods — especially in industries China is trying to dominate — in a bid to end what the administration has said are unfair trade practices.
 
The report echoes themes Vice President Pence raised in an October speech. “Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach,” Pence said, “using political, economic and military tools, as well as propaganda, to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States.”
 
Key Words: China
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