What is the source of the coronavirus that has wreaked havoc on the world? Most people today would agree that the source was China. But controversy exists and will continue to exist about how it started in China. Even those who think that the virus was not created intentionally may very well think that China made a concerted effort to cover up the seriousness of the virus for several months. Those few months cost the world more than 1 million dead. But something else happened that is very important. The veil on China’s authoritarian dictatorship has been lifted, and the threat that they pose to the world is now recognized as a clear and present danger in the years ahead.
President Trump has made one of his basic policies the firm belief that China is the most dangerous foe to the United States and the free world. This has not been the viewpoint of previous Presidents or Republican candidates for President. Mitt Romney clearly stated that he viewed Russia as the #1 strategic foe. Barack Obama rarely focused on China as a threat. This was a unique viewpoint that Donald Trump the candidate espoused as part of his America-first economics and trade-oriented foreign policy.
Due to the horrible effects of the coronavirus and President Trump’s harping on what he calls the “China virus,” most North Americans today would probably agree that China is the main threat. They are both an economic and military threat. Any country that has the most money, with the largest military, and the production of the vast majority of goods in the world that the West has grown addicted to, has truly amassed a huge amount of power.
What can be done to combat this? This is the $64,000 question. President Trump has advanced policies that shift the trade imbalance back to strengthening the United States manufacturing base. This is certainly a good move – especially on things such as pharmaceuticals. But will that be enough? Almost definitely not. If there is one thing that multilateralism is important for, it should be to contain the threat from China. When one bully gains too much strength, the key is to sideline the bully as much as possible. China is perhaps the wealthiest country in the world, but they lose their power to the extent that the buying countries do not cooperate with them. The reason this is so difficult to combat is the enormous power of big tech, and big tech’s cooperation with China. This will require nerves of steel from politicians who will probably lose much of their support if they confront the power of big tech and China head on. But, let us not make the mistake of thinking that big tech and China will become less powerful if we ignore the threat. The gorilla will only get larger if we keep feeding it bananas.