Forget Russia, North Korea and Iran. It’s China.
They play a ‘long” game while the US has yet to go any extra innings. We’re historical infants in a world where China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations, dating back to The Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC).
The British Empire was the global superpower in the 19th and 20th century, controlling approximately 70% of the world’s countries. After World War II Great Britain resources were devastated and it ceased to be an empire.
History indicates that exceptional civilizations have a life span of about 300 years before they decline. America was born 245 years so we may be on the clock.
Why do nations decline?
War, natural disasters, economic failure and political and civil unrest can flush a powerful nation down histories drain. Sound familiar?
America is in the midst of a pandemic crisis which has temporarily crippled our economy while our elected officials engage in food fights in the cafeteria. Yet, the US is not in any immediate danger of losing its status as the world’s only superpower.
But remember that China plays the long game.
Our military is the most powerful force on earth, but the next war won’t involve smart bombs. The US may possess 5000 more nuclear warheads than China, but victory lies in controlling the products we require to maintain our superiority.
The coronavirus can never defeat America, nor can earthquakes, floods or wildfires. We’re too resilient, but China is patient and understands that erosion occurs over decades. America’s house atop the hillside can slowly crumble into the sea if we ignore the past. A ‘can’t happen to us,’ mindset is naive and makes us vulnerable.
The US economy transitioned from an agricultural society to an industrial society to a service economy. The salesclerk at the Dollar Store lacks an economic ladder because America no longer produces lamps, garments, toys, umbrellas, video games, and cooking appliances.
Our grandparents made decent wages producing these “made in America” items but their heirs are reduced to selling imported goods.
We can survive this imbalance in the same manner we rallied in WWII. The Japanese forced America’s hand to drop what it was doing and focus on supporting the war. The numbers associated with American World War II production are astounding.
In the four years of war after the Pearl Harbor attack, US factories pumped out hundreds of thousands of machines of war, including tanks, fighter planes and bombers averaging a total of 49,000 aircraft each year. Tanks and machine guns also saw a massive jump in manufacturing, with over 102,000 tanks and 2.6 million machine guns produced by the end of the war.
But the assembling lines grinded to a halt sometime in the 1970’s and now the United States lacks a manufacturing base requiring the purchase of goods from some counties who view us as their enemy. This has resulted in a huge trade deficit and industrial job losses. The gap was filled by China.
One reason for many of the jobs lost in the US is primary metals. America makes most of its fabricated metals out of scrap, but China is now the major global consumer of iron ore and is threatening to weaponize its dominance in mining rare earth minerals against the United States. Tough to make a tank out of scrap metal.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced the first shortage of antibiotics and generics critical in treating pandemic outbreaks. The FDA did not comment on other vital unavailable drugs, but said that it’s “keenly aware that the outbreak could impact the medical product supply chain, as China is a major supplier of the ingredients used to make drugs that are sold in the U.S.”
We can suck it up minus video games and running shoes but not without pharmaceuticals. America has become too dependent on China for everything from painkillers, to antibiotics, and even aspirin can all be sourced back to a country whose goal is to become the global pharmacy. The FDA estimates that at least 80 percent of the active ingredients found in all of America’s medicines originate abroad, primarily in China.
Generic drugs account for 90 percent of prescriptions filled in the United States with versions of high blood pressure meds, anti-depressants, and cancer treatments, including chemotherapy traced back to China. Today, India is the leader in generic drug manufacturing, but China provides India with 80 percent of its raw ingredients, according to estimates.
What happens if China turns off the spigot?
Their government has declared their intent to disrupt, to dominate, and displace American and other Western companies. In 2015, China unveiled “Made in China 2025,” a national plan to make it the world’s leader in 10 high-tech manufacturing sectors, including biomedicine, by 2025. If another pandemic hits the world in 5 years, then China can negotiate terms for providing life saving drugs.
Brig. Gen. John Adams said, “I have no doubt that they would consider weaponizing their dominance of the pharmaceuticals market if they felt that that would give them an advantage over us strategically.”
In a worst-case scenario China could withhold supply of medicines like critical antibiotics, or, degrade the quality of our medicines or possibly put lethal contaminants in them.
But why risk a war with the US when China can play the long game. They’ll likely make American prescription drugs much more expensive. China’s control of the pharmaceutical market could create an economic Armageddon forcing Americans to choose lifesaving medicines over food and shelter. We’ll lose control over how much we pay and be the price taker, not the price setter.
Pandemics are unlike other ‘natural disasters’, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, where the damage is isolated to a time and place while those not affected by the disastrous event can pause to provide relief and support. Not so in this case.
The US is caught in this vortex of helplessness like so many other nations. We have found that our health care system along with other industrialized nations are ill (pun intended) prepared for a pandemic.
The last U.S. plant manufacturing the penicillin antibiotic closed in 2004. Think about that the next time your child has a tooth abscess, Lyme disease, bronchitis, urinary tract infection, or gangrene. Americans would perish at a frightening rate minus anti-biotics.
This reliance wasn’t some accidental byproduct of globalization but the outcome of a deliberate strategy by the Chinese Community Party, which made biomedicine and high-end medical equipment a priority. China plays the long game.
That China holds this much leverage over America’s public health and economy, both of which are essential components of our national security, is unacceptable.
But the USA still maintains the world healthiest economy.
President Trump has renegotiated trade deals, imposed tariffs, made us energy independent, and increased jobs and wages. Then came the Coronavirus making our stock market fragile.
Record highs, record lows, buy, sell, and hope for a recovery. China’s using the chaos to purchase American businesses because they understand the long game.
Qingdao-based Haier purchased General Electric’s appliance business and ChemChina’s record-breaking deal for Syngenta was valued at $48 billion, but, the most audacious attempt at changing Uncle Sam to Jackie Chan might be the Chinese-led investor group Chongqing Casin Enterprise’s bid for the Chicago Stock Exchange.
To date, there have been 102 Chinese outbound mergers and acquisitions deals announced recently, amounting to $81.6 billion in value, according to Dealogic. That’s up from 72 deals worth $11 billion.
Chinese banks were permitted to purchase several financial institutions for the first time and China recently bought the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods of Virginia. It was the biggest takeover of a US company by a Chinese firm and represents a precedent that will damage the American economy and cost jobs in the long run.
Currently, American authorities only evaluate foreign takeovers based on national-security issues, shareholder rights or securities laws. It appears that we have reached the point that our national security is threatened but many politicians are wary of losing major donations from American lobbyist acting as middlemen for Chinese money groups.
China has proven to be reckless and deceitful as it attempts to manipulate world views on the genesis of this pandemic. The communists party can control the narrative for their populace and much of the rest of the world has buried their head in the sand.
How did this happen?
The United States loss sight of critical healthcare readiness/preparedness. We were warned by many that our nation would not be able to withstand a pandemic.
Bill Gates spoke of this risk in 2018 during the Massachusetts Medical Society’s annual Shattuck Lecture, when he noted that life has gotten better for most people in the world but little progress has been made in pandemic preparedness.
What can we do?
Expand the capabilities of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. It is a non-combatant US uniformed service with a stated mission to:
a) protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of the Nation to prevent and control disease.
b) conduct and support biomedical, behavioral, and health services research, and communicate research results to health professionals and the public; and…
c) work with other nations and international agencies on global health problems and their solutions.
Other contributing factors: Loss of US intellectual capital, research and innovative ideas through thievery. For too long, China has infiltrated our schools and industries to steal our research and creativity. Prestigious universities are known to harbor questionable numbers of Chinese students.
For example, In December 2019, Lieutenant Yanqinq Ye, and intelligence officer of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China was posing as a student at Boston University. The FBI alleges that Ye sent U.S. documents and information to China while conducting research at BU’s Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering.
We have unwittingly allowed China to buy, influence and control significant portions of various industries that affect our national security. Industries such as: media and entertainment, technology, pharmaceuticals, food, and home goods, to name a few.
Essentially, we have relegated much of our livelihood to a foreign government that is bent on destroying our way of life. We have been feeding the dragon that will breathe fire.
The coronavirus will pass, the stock market will bounce back, and Americans have notorious short memories.
Covid-19 will disappear in our historical rear view mirror considered an inconvenience to the Baby Boomers, but, the Millennials, and Generation X should be concerned because…
China plays the long game!
About the author: John Ligato is a retired FBI agent who worked on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. He spent 8 years in deep cover and was later a pilot on the FBI’s special operations group.
As a Marine in Vietnam, John was the recipient of three Purple Hearts. As an adjunct professor for Campbell University, John taught international security and counter terrorism at MCB Camp LeJeune North Carolina. He is the author of five books, the latest is, THE COMEY GANG.
John Ligato was also a featured guest on the Conservative Business Journal Podcast. Listen to his tremendous interview about the corrupt Comey gang setup of General Michael Flynn…
Get John Ligato’s book, “The Comey Gang: An Insider’s Look at an FBI in Crisis” here on Amazon…