»  National Review

December 4, 2000

   China and Her Dupes

The China Threat
        by Bill Gertz


In the middle 1930s, as Hitler consolidated his power in Germany and began re-arming that country in earnest, the facts of the situation were duly reported back to the British foreign secretary, Sir John Simon. However, Sir John, as one of his underlings later remarked, did not want to know "uncomfortable things." Still less did he want to trouble the British people with such things.

Knowing that their countrymen were being misinformed while danger was building, many in Britain's diplomatic and intelligence services, angry and frustrated, took their information to the one person they could be sure would understand: Winston Churchill, then idling in the political wilderness. By thus making themselves Churchill's informants, these civil servants were often risking their careers, as they surely knew. Telling this tale, William Manchester notes in The Last Lion that:

If the scholar of today concludes that Churchill saved England, the meticulous, often anonymous men who faced ruin and jail yet still put their country first also deserve to be remembered.

There is no Churchill in today's America. Where are they to take their knowledge and anger, those patriots in our security services who understand what the fecklessness, stupidity and corruption of the Clinton administration are costing us? It would not be very surprising if they were to seek out a sympathetic journalist and tell him what they know, in the slim hope that the American public might take their eyes away from Hollywood and Wall Street for long enough to pay attention.

Their contact of choice seems to be Bill Gertz, defense reporter for the Washington Times. In 1999 Gertz published Betrayal, a wide-angle look at the many follies of Clintonian diplomacy. Betrayal came complete with a lengthy appendix of U.S. government documents stamped TOP SECRET, CLASSIFIED, CONFIDENTIAL, or, even more dramatically, pulled at the last minute to leave a blank page. This opened Mr. Gertz and his informants to accusations of disloyalty and illegal activity in divulging things that should not be divulged, and of alarming the American public when there is no real cause for alarm.

In The China Threat Gertz concentrates on our country's relations with China, and brings the story up to date (mid-2000). With the support of a similar appendix of leaked or purloined reports out of our security services, he argues that China has a master plan to increase her stature and influence in the world. The first phase of this plan will concentrate on getting the U.S. out of Asia.

In furtherance of that plan, says Gertz, the Chinese Communists have five active efforts under way: military, geostrategic, espionage, psychological and U.S.-political.

The reader must make up his own mind about the credibility of Gertz's thesis. I record myself as entirely convinced — though, to be sure, this is from a starting frame of mind that needed little convincing. Bill Gertz is never going to win any prizes for elegant writing, but his is not the style of the obsessive crank. He does not leap to any unjustified conclusions. On the Wen Ho Lee case, for example, he does not leave us with any conclusion at all. Was Lee spying for China? Or for Taiwan? Was he trying to fortify his résumé at a time of employee cutbacks in the lab? Or was he just a careless idiot? We do not know, and Gertz has sufficient respect for the facts of the case to admit this honestly, while laying out in devastating detail how the Lee investigation was compromised from the highest levels of the departments of Justice and Energy.

He is particularly good on the psychological warfare being waged very skillfully by the Chinese government. Have you heard the expression "million-man swim"? This little propaganda gem refers to the only way by which, according to the China-is-not-a-threat crowd, the Chinese army could cross the Taiwan Strait, since they do not have sufficient troop transports and landing craft. The term seems to have been coined by Rear Admiral Eric McVadon, a leading shill for the Chinese Communist Party.

Gertz also gives good coverage of another way China manipulates foreign opinion: her treatment of China scholars. If you want credibility as a Sinologist, you must of course make frequent trips to China. This involves getting a Chinese visa; and the Communists do not give visas to people they disapprove of. Thus, to build a career in China studies, you must kiss up to the Communist Party. "China experts" who take the wrong line — Steven Mosher is a case in point — are thus marginalized. Something similar applies to news-gathering in China. A news agency consistently critical of Communist policy will not be given that access to top leaders that journalists prize. Hence those endless "soft features" on China in our news media: "Chinese Take to 'Fat Farms' to Lose Weight," etc. etc.

An area Gertz passes over rather lightly, I think, is the way that China's propaganda effort is interacting with the thought revolution this nation has endured over the past 30 years — "multiculturalism," racial politics, the teaching of history as a catalog of grievances, the obsession with "discrimination," and so on. In fact, this all works for the Chinese, everywhere. Gertz gives the following breathtaking instance, speaking of Clinton's first Energy Secretary, affirmative-action hire Hazel O'Leary:

O'Leary did away with color-coded security badges that helped identify whether persons were in unauthorized locations — such as those with large amounts of secret information. Why? She believed the colored badges were unfair, a form of discrimination.

One would not be very surprised to learn that the targeting of our ICBMs on China rather than, say, Luxembourg has been denounced by someone in the Clinton Defense Department as "discrimination."

The Chinese are very clever at pressing the emotional buttons of the Clintonoid classes. The We Ho Lee case, for example, was quickly turned into an issue of race-baiting. I myself belong to some e-mail forums for Chinese professionals living in the U.S. All these forums have a Communist agent or two seeded among their membership, and not very difficult to spot. These stool-pigeons were pushing the race angle of the Wen Ho Lee case for all they were worth, appealing — with considerable success — to the strong sense of racial solidarity that persists even among Chinese natives who have taken out U.S. citizenship.

A lot of people — even on the political Right — think it has been sort of fun having Bill Clinton as president this past eight years. An entertainment, if you like. Well, maybe it has; but there is a price to be paid for entertainment. If the things Bill Gertz is telling us are true — as I believe they are, and then some — the price America will have to pay for the Clinton years when this long peace ends will be high: very, very high.