By Guy Page
The People’s Republic of China’s propaganda war paints the U.S. as a declining nation and blames us for starting the global Covid-19 pandemic, China policy expert Gordon Chang reports in the May 5 issue of Strategika, a Hoover Institute publication.
Vermont’s elected officials in Washington and Montpelier have done little to fight either claim.
Chang – a lawyer, author, think-tank speaker, and TV and print journalist who lived and worked in China and Hong Kong for almost two decades – reports that “China controls the most expansive, heavily resourced, and sophisticated propaganda capabilities available to any regime in history.”
China seeks to intimidate. Chang recounts that on March 19, People’s Republic of China top diplomat Yang Jiechi traveled to Anchorage, Alaska. Face-to-face he told Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan: “So let me say here that, in front of the Chinese side, the United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength.” This smackdown played hot on Chinese media for two weeks.
For their part, Blinken and Sullivan responded with a press statement filled with phrases like “we got a defensive response.” They looked like a pair of 98-pound weaklings getting bullied on a very public beach.
Here in Vermont, the State Senate has failed to show support for a democratic trading partner long in the PRC’s crosshairs. The ethnic Chinese island nation of Taiwan is Vermont’s leading Asian export market (#2 globally). Three senators – Jane Kitchell (D-Caledonia), Cummings (D-Washington), and Westman (R-Lamoille) – introduced SR7, a resolution affirming the friendship between Taiwan and Vermont and recounting Taiwan’s donation of 44,000 surgical masks during the pandemic.
Nothing doing, Lt. Molly Gray ruled Feb. 9 when she denied SR7 a floor vote. She sent it instead to the Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee – where it now languishes. While it’s not uncommon to refer resolutions of complex subjects to a committee for further study, the Vermont House had no problem quickly approving a similar resolution in 2017 and again on May 5 this year. The Senate’s inaction tells the world Vermont is indecisive about trade friendship with Taiwan. Mustn’t rock the boat with the PRC.
Lest anyone think that tiny Vermont is beneath the notice of the gargantuan PRC, a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appears to show otherwise. In a February 2020 speech to the National Governors’ Association, Pompeo shared a list – reportedly from a Chinese ‘think-tank’ – that identifies the relative friendliness of every US governor. Gov. Phil Scott is listed among the “friendly” governors. When asked about the list, a Scott administration official told Vermont Daily that “it could be no more than CCP propaganda to sow discord.”
Maybe. And it is only fair to say that the Scott administration has pushed back against Chinese intrusiveness. In February 2019 Agency of Digital Information chief John Quinn ordered all state government to stop using Huawei technology products due to security concerns.
And to be fair again, both Sen. Patrick Leahy (Tibet) and Rep. Peter Welch (Hong Kong) have spoken out against China’s human rights abuses. But what of their views on the PRC’s unsubstantiated charge that the United States started the pandemic in its own germ warfare lab? Chang writes:
“On February 23 of last year, People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s self-described “mouthpiece” and therefore the most authoritative publication in China, suggested the U.S. military spread the disease to Wuhan. The Fort Detrick narrative appeared on WeChat, a popular Chinese social media platform, on March 9, and from there the story spread fast inside China.”
To this canard, Vermont’s two senators and lone congressman have said and done nothing. But not for lack of opportunity. For example, neither Vermont U.S. Senator chose to co-sponsor S18, a resolution to investigate the role of the Chinese government in the pandemic.
Gov. Scott did say at a press conference this March he’d like to see more transparency about the causes of the epidemic. But neither he nor the Vermont press asked White House Covid-19 advisor Anthony Fauci – who should know something about the subject – in his Sept. 15 2020 press conference appearance. A few months later a ludicrously abbreviated World Health Organization “investigation” in Wuhan earlier this year was trumpeted by the PRC as an exoneration of its role. Again, nothing was said by our elected officials.
Chang summarizes China’s continuation of the Big Lie about US culpability: “China since then has, through social media and other means, given new life to the Fort Detrick theory. For instance, on March 31 of this year, after the World Health Organization mission to Wuhan released its report on the origin of the disease, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying again raised the Fort Detrick theory, something she also talked about previously this year. China’s propaganda line may be ludicrous, but Beijing through social media and other means knows how to keep a story going.”
As China keeps the story going, Vermont’s elected representatives just keep going along.
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Chang and his wife Lydia plan to visit Vermont the weekend of Sept. 11 to speak about the existential threat posed by an aggressive People’s Republic of China, event organizers say. Location(s) and times and other details to be determined.
Categories: State Government