A handful of leading conservative voices just penned a letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to keep in place a Roadless Rule that prevents loggers from tapping into much of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.
At first blush, this seems an environmental issue — a private property rights versus government preservation showdown that raises questions about the proper use of tax dollars, the Constitution, the Antiquities Act and even Founding Father intents.
But it’s really a question about China.
It’s really a matter of China’s long-running economic and cultural seepage onto America’s soil, of China’s long-reaching tentacles into America’s economy, of China’s decades-of-strategies of infiltrating and influencing America’s culture, politics and economy — and then, of the question that arises: At what point should America say, “Stop”?
This administration, thankfully, has been taking a hard look at China and saying just that.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, from Copenhagen, spoke of the “long challenge of the Chinese Communist Party stealing intellectual property” that has led to the loss of “hundreds of thousands of jobs” for Americans and Europeans. That was in explanation of this White House’s decision to close China’s consulate in Houston, a move aimed at protecting “American intellectual property,” he said.
And that’s after one-in-five companies headquartered in North America that serve on the CNBC Global CFO Council reported theft of intellectual properties by China sources within only a one-year time span, within the 12-month 2018 period.
“In all, 7 of the 23 companies surveyed,” CNBC reported in March of 2019, “say that Chinese firms have stolen from them over the past decade.”
China’s propensity for thieving is well-known.
“China theft of technology is biggest law enforcement threat to U.S., FBI says,” The Guardian wrote, just this February.
Director Christopher Wray estimated his FBI’s 56 regional offices were at that time busily investigating more than 1,000 cases of alleged Chinese thefts of technology; between 2019 and 2020, agents arrested more than 40 suspects tied to these cases.
“No country,” said FBI counterintelligence chief John Brown at a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies conference in Washington, “poses a greater threat than Communist China.”
They’re heavily invested in the West, that’s for sure.
The American Enterprise Institute, along with the Heritage Foundation, found the United States received more than $180 billion in Chinese investments between January 2005 and December 2019. The investments were varied. There was the $1.7 million sent from the China Academy of Sciences to IBM in early 2005; the $5 million from the China Investment Corp to Morgan Stanley in 2007; the nearly $2.4 million from the China National Offshore Oil Corporation to Chesapeake Energy in 2010. That’s just a drop in the bucket.
“‘American Soil’ Is Increasingly Foreign Owned,” NPR reported in May 2019, in a story about the 30 million acres of U.S. farmland owned by overseas’ investors, including China. A 2013 sale of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods to Shuanghui International Holdings Limited, for example, gave China ownership of 146,000 acres of farmland in the United States.
“Chinese investors have been the biggest purchasers of U.S. residential real estate for six consecutive years,” Market Watch reported in mid-2019.
Drip, drip. More drops in the bucket.
China and Chinese interests own, or have solicited to own, everything from the Chicago Stock Exchange, AMC — America’s largest movie theater chain — and GE appliances, to the iconic Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.
China’s Tencent in recent times sent $150 million Reddit’s way; $3.4 billion to the California-based Universal Music Group record company — which owns rights to the likes of singing sensations Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and The Beatles — and $200 million to Warner Music, buying up a 1.6% stake in the company in the process.
And now, with the coronavirus-dampened economy, economists the world over are warning: Keep a check on China.
“Watch out for Chinese companies swooping in with buckets of cash to buy strategic stakes, or majority control in U.S. and European companies as asset prices fall due to the pandemic,” Forbes wrote in April.
China, if anything, is strategic.
“With Acquisition of California Port, China Broadens Influence on U.S. Commerce,” the Association of Mature American Citizens wrote in June 2018, of a Long Beach deal.
Then again, so is this administration.
“U.S. Forces China Out of Port of Long Beach Terminal Ownership,” Universal Cargo reported a year later, in October 2019.
But now the Trump Team needs to see the Tongass issue in similar light — in similar flashing red “Communist China Coming” warning lights.
A proposal from the U.S. Forest Service and Alaska authorities would lift Roadless Rule protections on 10 million acres of land, opening the door to more logging and exports of logged products. But between 2005 and 2011, China was the main buyer of Tongass timber, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in 2016.
Doesn’t America do enough for China already?
Way back in 2019, it was Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, who warned, “Stop buying Chinese products. That will have the biggest impact on their economy,” he said.
That should hold true for selling to China, too.
If we’re looking for a good stopping point to clamp China’s influence on America, and in America, Tongass could very well be it. And then after, maybe after, we can go and take back our hams, our movies, our entertainment companies, our lands and farms, and properties and businesses, and yes, our technology, both stolen and on the path to be stolen.
Communist China is killing America, and it’s time to say, conclusively and collectively, no more.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.