How the Olympics could spark a war with China
A lot can change in a year and a half.
In December 2019, I dined with Jimmy Lai, the billionaire founder of Apple daily, a popular leaflet in Hong Kong. One of the great things about my job is that I have had the opportunity to dine with many political celebrities. But you never forget a meal with a man who could buy one a hundred thousand times and so clearly has fear of the future on his face.
It turned out that Mr. Lai was simply ahead of the curve.
In the next 90 days, the reality of COVID-19, which was certainly already living in Asia when I saw it, would turn from a regional nuisance to an international disaster. Travelers from the area still joked about their coughs in journo salons in Washington and New York.
“This is not a major threat to the people of the United States,” Anthony Fauci of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Greg Kelly. “The American people shouldn’t worry or be afraid about this. It’s very, very little risk to the United States, ”he said John Castimidis.
Nobody knew what was coming.
But, as we all know, the beginning of a new decade should be a disaster. In the intervening 19 months, Mr. Lai did not lose his life like so many others, but he did lose his freedom and society. Apple daily may not be a household name in the States, but it is in Hong Kong that Lai is now in jail at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party.
Aside from concerns about the new Delta variant, a new consensus has crept in: we’ve all seen the worst, at least for a while. The world economy is imminent a roaring comeback after a year of closed people and closed demand. And if U.S. policy does indeed hit a boiling point, or even a return for Donald Trump, then such concerns will be pending at least until cycle 2024. President Joe Biden is fine, and we are indeed entering a new era of normality.
So goes the consensus.
But experience this ultimate sign of normality: the Olympic Games. Postponed to next month in Japan, things are not going well. The land is relatively low Vaccination rate is a problem: 8 percent if you believe the World Health Organization (not me, really). As Delta raises its ugly head, a Northeast Asian country that weathered the sudden pandemic, as well as every other major economy in the world, was suddenly flattened on the ground in Showtime.
“The elites of the Japanese ministry advised [Prime Minister Yoshihide] Suga and his administration to cancel the Olympics, ”insisted a former senior advisor to the Department of Defense under President Donald J. Trump. “The Japanese electorate – shocked by COVID – was against holding the Olympics in Japan this year. As a result, Suga and his party are in trouble. ”
Wall Street had Street in the US his worst day since May on Monday.
How Suga deals with it is not just his business. Nearby, the elite in Beijing are watching closely. There are many concerns that attendance at the February Winter Games to be held in Beijing and Hebei will be low, or even if few Western leaders appear, it could reduce the 2014 disaster in Sochi, Russia. Elite brothers of these games likely heralded Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea. Concern would be focused on Taiwan, which is sometimes referred to as “the most dangerous place on earth”.
“The risk of Chinese invasion – India, Taiwan, Japan, whatever – will increase after the Beijing Olympics next year,” said Gordon Chang, senior fellow at Gatestone Institute. “The fear of a boycott of the Games in February is apparently one of the few things that are currently keeping Xi Jinping in check. That doesn’t mean, of course, that he won’t do something terrible beforehand, because he calculates his interests and sees the world differently from the rest of us. ”
Republican pressure on President Biden is likely to mount before February next, as Republicans attempt to link a left-wing drift at home to the Chinese specter of international communism.
Widespread boycott support among GOP officials is not unthinkable. Biden wants to turn America into a “secular welfare state,” said former Vice President Mike Pence over the weekend in Iowa. A former senior Trump administration official told me over the weekend that the only way Biden could fight that impression would be to do all but not support regime change in Cuba, a defeat for the autocracy and a victory for American-style democracy, argued this official.
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And after all that? All bets are off, especially if the Beijing games go bad. But Bradley Thayer of the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the Hawkish Committee for the President Danger urges caution. “I don’t think a poor elite is invading,” Thayer told me. “Xi may well invade Taiwan, but will do so for strategic and / or domestic reasons, not because of poor elite performance at the Olympics.”
Thayer makes reservations, however: “If the reason for the poor representation is a protest against China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang or its other myriad human rights violations, it would be even more damaging to Xi’s position. … If there is a weak elite presence, the irony is that China is responsible, as it is responsible for creating and releasing the virus and for its massive human rights abuses. “
The government may be autocratic and Xi Jinping a strong man who cleaned most of its rivals, but the Chinese president will have to at least petition for ratification of his third term next year. Xi becomes the most powerful general secretary of the Communist Party since the founder of the People’s Republic, Mao Zedong, and the bare dynastic turn to the dominant heights is clear to everyone – old rivals liquidated or not. But nobody is more attentive the uncertainty of his position and the wild turns life can take as Xi. As a teenager, the Red Guards, who imprisoned his family members during the Cultural Revolution, said to Xi, “We can execute you a hundred times.” Leaders in Washington may run an empire, but the proximity of Chinese leaders to violence in their own lives cannot be underestimated especially if you judge the psyche in Beijing.
It could get dicey quickly.
CNN reported over the weekend on the status of Biden’s presidential review on the origins of COVID-19. “Senior Biden administration officials overseeing an intelligence review of the origins of the coronavirus now believe the theory that the virus accidentally escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan is at least as credible as the possibility that it could naturally occurred in the wild, ”so the Linke large sales outlet reported heavily.
“Laboratory leak” or even more outside Presumption (intentionality) is no longer just the domain of law. Almost every Republican successor to Biden is likely to be more aggressive towards China. And the pressure that is relevant to the administration is one-sided: confrontation.
“Donald Trump had a total of two semi-competent policies,” said Robert Kuttner, the founder of American prospectus and a liberal sometime interlocutor for Steve Bannon said on Monday. “You threw a lot of money on vaccine manufacturers. The other took a tougher stance on China. Both guidelines left a lot to be desired in terms of their details, but they pointed the way. ”
Addressing Biden’s finance minister, Kuttner said recent comments scourging Trump’s trade policy were a “view of China policy” that was “an alarming setback to naive globalism.”
Meanwhile, where big business is ready to publicly break with the Democratic Party, including China, with biotechnology and pharmaceutical advocacy groups campaigning against recent government waivers on vaccine patents. Notably, it’s nearly impossible these days to get through Fox News’ prime time lineup without seeing one.
So, here it says: Enjoy the summer while you can.