Woke Capital's Deathly China Addiction | Opinion

"As for this fear that foreigners will stop investing, I'm not afraid. Foreign capitalists are out to make money, and they'll never abandon a big market for the world like China." This was the response of Wang Zhen, a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) elder, to comrades apparently concerned over the blowback China might face for the Party's savagery at Tiananmen Square some 32 years ago. It could not have proven more prescient.

The CCP didn't pay a price for its malevolence then, and if America's business community has its way, it won't pay a price for its malevolence now either.

During an 18-month-and-counting period in which a CCP-controlled China most culpable for the coronavirus pandemic has made not faraway democracy protesters, but every American, to one degree or another, its victim, more than 30 business groups from the Chamber of Commerce to the Business Roundtable, covering industries from agriculture to financial services to semiconductors, are calling for fostering still-closer economic ties with China.

This is the definition of greed-induced insanity.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, the signatories called on the Biden administration to redouble its efforts to "increase broader economic and trade engagement to address structural concerns that will further open China's market and level the playing field for U.S. goods and services."

These asks demonstrate the chasm between the perceived interests of America's major industries and the actual interests of America. They reflect the very thinking that the CCP has exploited to devastating effect for decades in its rise to become our most formidable and all-encompassing foe.

In reality, the business community's lobbying for ever-deepening economic integration with China arguably constitutes the CCP's most successful influence operation. This is because the trade and investment that binds the U.S. to China is imperative to the CCP's grand strategy to both maximize its strength and neutralize its foes.

China has for decades held out promises of profits via its massive potential market to gain entrée into the capital that has underwritten, and the technology that has underpinned, its quest to supplant America and dominate the world. America has, of course, been its key enabler.

For the CCP, commerce is a means to the end of retaining and expanding power—the Party's sole end. The CCP aims to monopolize strategically significant sectors, enter "business" relationships that wed China's counterparties to it, and harvest masses of information to maximize its strength, leverage and ultimate ability to Sino-form the world in accordance with the Party's wishes.

Road sign and green traffic light for
Road sign and green traffic light at corner of Wall Street and Broadway in New York City. Tim Graham/Getty Images

Every Chinese enterprise should be seen as an organ of the Party. This is the case whether a company is state-owned, state-funded or putatively private. Ultimately, regardless of who the shareholders are, whether executives are Party members or a Party cell merely sits outside the boardroom, every enterprise operates at the Party's mercy—and, therefore, for the Party's benefit.

This has been made quite clear by law, where, for example, companies are compelled to support the state as needed when it comes to intelligence and national security matters—as defined by the Party, of course. It has also been made quite clear by practice, where China's "regulatory" crackdown, personified by the largely disappeared Jack Ma, and epitomized by the tanking of his Ant Group's initial public offering (IPO), and more recently the targeting of Chinese Uber-equivalent Didi immediately after its IPO, has crippled its biggest companies to the tune of some $400 billion in lost market value in July 2021 alone.

Of course, one might ask—even setting aside its culpability in the coronavirus pandemic, its crushing of Hong Kong, its genocidal campaign against the Uyghurs of Xinjiang and a litany of other terrors—why American businesses would want to get even cozier with China, given the increasing control the Party exerts over the Chinese economy.

But Woke Capital seemingly need never reconcile the fact that both its Wokeism and its desire for profits may well be in conflict with its desire to do more business with Beijing.

In fact, the business community wishes to even further diminish its position in its Lucy-and-Charlie Brown-with-the-football-like pursuit of "opening China's markets" by calling on the Biden administration to also "continue negotiations with China to remove both nations' counterproductive tariffs as soon as possible," notwithstanding any leverage those tariffs provide.

Business of course couches its arguments in putting America first—that tariffs hurt American workers and other Americans by inflating prices, and by acknowledging that it is imperative to address China's predatory economic practices.

But Big Business ignores the bigger-picture issues. First, China has done absolutely nothing to merit further negotiations with America on anything of substance, and America's desire to enter into such negotiations will be perceived by the CCP as a weakness to be further exploited. Second, as we now know from decades-long experience, closer economic ties with the U.S. form the linchpin of the CCP's plan to bearhug us into ultimate national submission.

Nearly 50 years into this toxic relationship, ignorance can no longer be an excuse.

What are Americans to conclude but that for too many in our business community, transacting with China has been deemed worth any cost, up to and including the very survival of the country from which those businesses have so richly benefited?

Call it the ultimate leveraged sellout.

Ben Weingarten is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, fellow at the Claremont Institute and senior contributor to The Federalist. He is the author of American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party (Bombardier, 2020). Ben is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and production company. Subscribe to his newsletter at bit.ly/bhwnews, and follow him on Twitter: @bhweingarten.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.