Michael Bloomberg’s entry into the race for the Democratic nomination for president has been underwhelming so far. As the race tightens, one of myriad problems for the candidate will be his close ties to the major national security threat posed by the US’s strategic rival — China under the leadership of the Chinese Communist party (CCP).
Bloomberg panders to the CCP and to its leader, Xi Jinping, recently labeling him ‘not a dictator’ but rather just a politician, like any other duly elected leader, who has to satisfy his constituents. When challenged, Bloomberg stressed the point, saying ‘no government survives without the will of the majority of its people, OK?’ Xi, like all leaders, ‘has to deliver services’. This may be the greatest misinterpretation of a communist leader since Harry Truman perceived Josef Stalin to be just like T.J. ‘Boss’ Pendergast of the Kansas City Democratic machine. The Man of Steel was just a fellow politician — perhaps a bit rough around the edges — with whom one could trade favors. Truman’s naiveté did not last long. Unlike Truman, who was thrust into the office Bloomberg seeks, Bloomberg has been working with the CCP regime for years.
Bloomberg makes his case for the Chinese ‘dictator for life’ by saying ‘The Chinese Communist party looks at Russia and they look for where the Communist party is and they don’t find it anymore. And they don’t want that to happen. So, they really are responsive.’ The truth is a bit different. Indeed, after the collapse of the USSR, Beijing concluded that it needed economic performance to provide legitimacy for the regime. But the more significant lesson the CCP drew was that the Soviet Communist party lost faith in communism and failed to enforce and defend its ideology. Accordingly, when Xi came to power in 2012, he informed party comrades: ‘Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered’, and ‘where political rot, ideological heresy and military disloyalty brought down the governing party’. Xi demanded a return to Leninist proletarian dictatorship — to rule China with violence and terror, absolutely without mercy to its enemy. He later launched massive ruthless campaigns to crackdown on any dissent. Through mass surveillance and indoctrination, the CCP has essentially wiped out any political opposition, and thus any hope for free speech or democracy. China is a police state superpower.
Bloomberg’s assessment of Xi is a gross and fundamental mistake concerning Xi’s position, his aims, and objectives. Such a consideration of the CCP’s dictator should be a cause of great concern to his rivals and voters in next year’s primaries and caucuses, and in the general, if it comes to it. But Bloomberg’s risible and injudicious judgement is not because he is naive. He knows the facts of life when dealing with the CCP: he cannot criticize the regime or his access will be terminated and the regime will aggressively target his interests and the interests of those associated with him. Thus, the sycophancy.
But Bloomberg is not alone, not even in the Democratic field, recall Joe Biden’s ‘c’mon man’, moment in his dismissal of the China threat. The Chinese have gained access to leaders around the world by promising and delivering lucre to their businesses and personal interests. We have witnessed this behavior from Australia to Zimbabwe. It is the CCP’s modus operandi and must have succeeded beyond the boundaries of their imagination. It continues to do so.
Few have recognized what the regime is. During Xi’s rule, China has imprisoned two million Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s internment camps. These victims are harassed, mistreated, tortured and targets for ‘thought-transformation’ to ensure their loyalty to the CCP. Tens of millions of Tibetans, Chinese Christians, Falun Gong practitioners and others have been oppressed. Xi has suppressed the democracy movement in Hong Kong, whose supporters have been brutally attacked, injured and killed by police. China has expanded territorial control in the South China Sea, flouted international law when the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China, accelerated Chinese prodigious military expansion and labored to modernize it to become a formidable conventional, cyber, and nuclear force. Xi abandoned precedent and proclaimed that he would serve more than two terms, and that ‘Xi Jinping thought’ was the equal of Mao’s, the founder of the PRC, and Deng’s, its savior. Xi’s megalomania is unalloyed and unchecked. His regime poses the greatest strategic threat to the interests of the United States and its allies from Europe to the Indo-Pacific.
For a media mogul like Bloomberg, what is disconcerting is that his media enterprise in China may collude with Beijing as part of the regime’s external propaganda apparatus. EnodoGlobal, a Fairfax, Virginia-based social risk advisory firm, recently examined Hong Kong’s information landscape to uncover the CCP’s propaganda machine in order to expose their attempts to shape citizen’s perceptions. Beijing’s information warfare campaign is highly sophisticated, simultaneously targeting individuals and large segments of the population. The CCP is weaponizing propaganda using fake accounts to infiltrate a continuously evolving social movement, saturate online discussions, and shape public perceptions in its war against Hong Kong protestors. Fake accounts, bots, and trolls dominate online discussion. The result is fear and confusion among Hong Kong citizens. According to EnodoGlobal’s big data analysis, the CPP uses news outlets and key influencers from mainland China to influence perceptions. The primary influencers are opinion columnists and journalists who are embedding in Chinese major media outlets. The top influencers include Bloomberg China, in addition to the usual suspects: China Daily, Xinhua News, and Southern Daily.
Bloomberg’s strategic myopia causes him to miss what is in front of our nose. Xi’s China is a fundamental threat to the US and its allies, first, due to his objective of supplanting the US and the liberal international order it created — the order which allowed China to rise and incidentally made possible much of Bloomberg’s wealth. Second, because the West has not awakened to the threat, it allowed and continues to permit China access to its institutions, markets, finance, technology, universities, and even militaries. Third, China is building the infrastructure of the information age, shamelessly created in part due to its IP theft. If it succeeds, it will fetter and weaken the US. Through Huawei, ZTE, and other firms, China is creating a system, for which it will be the gatekeeper, that will allow it to exploit information. All of this occurred without balancing from the US and its allies. Indeed, until recently, scant cognizance even of the threat.
The Chinese have weaponized trade, finance, research, education, indeed, they have weaponized all forms of cooperation against the West. Bloomberg and many others made it possible, earning handsome profits while fêted by the CCP. Bloomberg is a staunch CCP apologist, who remains silent about CCP’s evils, while vehemently defending and passionately praising the regime.
Truman knew what Stalin was after a few months in office. His strategic insight made possible effective balancing against the Soviet Union through NATO and many other actions. He rejected appeasement of the USSR and, by choosing to confront Moscow, laid the foundation for its ultimate defeat. There is no indication that Bloomberg will ever possess Truman’s insights into the behavior of dictators and the need to confront enemies. Were Bloomberg’s advice on China and his cooperative approached sustained, it may be said that he and many others laid the foundation for the potential defeat of the US.