by Bob Barr
How much does silence cost? For China, it is at least $180 billion, which is how much the Chinese have spent in American investments over the last decade and a half, in sectors ranging from real estate to sports and entertainment. There is a financial incentive to such investments, of course, but the biggest and best return for the Chinese government may be the reluctance of American institutions to bite the hand that feeds them.
It is an investment strategy that has paid off well for the Chinese Communist Party, particularly among leftist institutions in our country. Organizations that never seem to have issue finding fault with America are noticeably quiet when it comes to China.
Take, for instance, last October when Daryl Morey, general manager for the NBA’s Houston Rockets, tweeted support for the Hong Kong protestors. If it were a tweet about social justice or paying NCAA athletes, it likely would have been little noticed. However, because the tweet was indirectly critical of the Chinese Communist Party, it created significant backlash for the NBA, ultimately costing them hundreds of millions of dollars as games were blacked out in China as punishment. Although the league did, at least, resist calls from China to fire Morey, the message from Beijing was clear – keep your mouth shut or risk losing a billion dollars in deals.
Hollywood also remains firmly seated on the pro-China bandwagon. Movie actors and industry big wigs are notorious for their rants against America, routinely turning the Oscars into one long Democrat Party stump speech. No similar criticism is leveled at China, and the reason for this silence is obvious.
Over the last decade, Chinese firms have invested billions of dollars to fund movie productions and to purchase entire movie studios and theater chains. This strategy has provided China significant influence over the U.S. movie and entertainment industry. Scripts are frequently edited to appease Chinese censors who can block movies from the lucrative Chinese market. For example, producers of 2013’s “World War Z” removed a reference to the zombie-causing virus originating in China, hoping to avoid issues with Chinese censors.
Even educational institutions in the United States, the supposed bastions of free and open inquiry, are not immune from China’s financial pressure. Harvard University, which has received $93 million from China over the years, canceled a panel on the Hong Kong protests out of fear of upsetting China. The Washington Free Beacon notes that Harvard’s gifts from China, significant as they are, represent just a small cut of the $900 million in Chinese gifts to U.S. academia since 2013.
China’s financial tentacles extending into the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, however, go far beyond sports, entertainment and academia.
Nearly every critical U.S. industry today is buffered with either Chinese investments directly or driven by the lust for reaching the massive Chinese market – or both. Principles such as free speech and respect for basic human rights that are supposed to be at the core of Western civilization, are routinely ignored in fawning efforts to appease Chinese benefactors.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the current COVID-19 pandemic. That the COVID-19 virus originated in China is a matter of fact and science. Just as clear are the deliberate actions of the CCP that contributed to its global spread. Yet, despite the disproportionate impact of the virus on at-risk communities as well as among minority groups in the U.S., barely a peep of criticism has come from leftist institutions.
Not only have these China-centric institutions remained noticeably silent in leveling even mild criticism at China for its central role in the global pandemic, but they have actually hampered efforts to combat the virus, by burying the truth of China’s role in the virus’ spread. Those who openly discuss facts about China’s responsibility for the pandemic’s origin and spread, are loudly accused of “racism” and “xenophobia.” Ben Rhodes, an Obama apologist, criticized Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week saying it incited “bigotry against Asians” to criticize China’s substandard track record with labs and resulting global outbreaks of viruses.
Fortunately, long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Trump Administration was taking action to address the influence of Chinese dollars on American institutions. The embarrassingly brazen complicity of leftists institutions from the Hollywood hills to Boston Commons in carrying water for the Chinese, protecting them from even the slightest criticism, shows exactly what Trump is up against here at home, in holding China accountable for its crimes.