“The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China.” – FBI Director Christopher Wray.
It’s no secret that China wishes to be considered more of a super-power than the United States. China is the world’s second-largest economy and a nuclear weapons state with the world’s second-largest defense budget. In 2017, President XI Jinping laid out his vision to turn China into a “great modern socialist country” by 2050. The Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services company, UBS, surveyed its clients and found that 57% of global investors predict China will replace the U.S. as the world’s biggest superpower by 2030– less than a decade from today. The challenge is that autocratic governments function more swiftly than democracies. While a democracy tends to walk gingerly around its citizens, an autocracy like the Chinese Communist Party just brushes them aside in the name of productivity and progress. There is no denying that China has positioned itself well in many ways to take a prominent place on the world’s stage; however, China poses a significant threat to global stability, and it is worth noting the dangers they pose now and addressing these before the world reaches a point of no return.
In this blog, I’ll take a look at four of the biggest threats to global stability that China currently poses, and I will leave you with a few solutions you can plug into your daily lives to make, possibly, a slight difference. At the very least, you will be better able to recognize the trappings of China and work to rid yourself of dependencies before it’s too late.
THREAT #1: WAR
North Korea is China by proxy. There’s no denying that. There is a China-Taiwan divide that continues to escalate. At the heart of the divide is that the Chinese government sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be part of the country. The Taiwanese people disagree. They feel they are a separate nation – whether or not independence is ever officially declared. China has said it will “never tolerate” foreign intervention in issues related to Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island that China claims as its own. Taiwan recently reported the largest ever incursion into its airspace of Chinese aircraft. Beijing has also sent more ships to the South China Sea.
China assumes control over the East and South China Seas and ignores other countries’ claims and rights of passage through the international waters. Six countries lay overlapping claims to the East and South China Seas, an area rich in hydrocarbons and natural gas and through which trillions of dollars of global trade flow. From the Tibetan Uprising to Vietnam to the Xinjiang conflict, which is still raging today, China has never shied away from using the threat of its military might as a cudgel to force the outside world into its shape and vision of subjugation to the Party.
Anyone of these conflicts is a humanitarian crisis about to happen. China unabashedly and routinely sends people off to work camps and what they call education camps, which are really forced reprogramming camps. The country is the world’s dystopian power that forces compliance from its own citizens. Leading up to the 2008 Olympic games, some 1.5 million Beijing residents were permanently driven from their homes which were bulldozed to make way for the Olympic grounds and stadium. Ask any Chinese person about this forced eviction and you and that person might be arrested. The Chinese Communist Party keeps a tight rein on dissent and controls the information it allows its citizens to know. The Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989 is a perfect example. So many people were killed, silenced, or disappeared after this uprising, and so much information was scrubbed from the country’s history books that everyday citizens know nothing about it. Those that do know anything about it dare not break their silence in fear of meeting similar fates of disappearing, imprisonment, or death.
Beijing has always kept a tight hold over its people and has looked at the areas around China with an opportunistic and expansionist intent. Beijing doesn’t debate with other countries either. For example, in 2014, China began massive dredging operations to build artificial islands around seven reefs claimed as their territory in the South China Sea. The artificial islands have been transformed into significant military facilities, including three runways that have been used for the deployment of Chinese fighter jets. This area is between Vietnam, the Philippines, and the island of Borneo. An incredible one-third of the world’s global shipping passes through this waterway each year, and China has converted seven reefs to operational military bases. The United States routinely flies over the area to dispute China’s claim and emphasize international rights; however, it’s not just this maritime challenge. China has maritime disputes with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia, to name just a few.
The threat that any conflict on land or at sea could draw countries into a more significant war with the communist nation is genuine and grows more likely as each year passes without China’s expansionism checked by the global community. It is worth noting here that the U.S. military is significantly larger and better equipped than China’s. Though China might find itself in an altercation because of its inability to back down from a fight and because it aggressively assumes both its might and right, a conflict isn’t their desired goal. Their goal isn’t to fight a war, as this will hurt their growing economy. They would rather have their factories cranking out products rather than bombs. It boils down to simple economics. That’s the front they are waging their war upon.
THREAT #2: ECONOMICS
One reason China remains unchecked in its expansionist and regional strong-handed assumption of control is purely economics. China provides cheap labor and globally unrivaled output. Made in China is labeled on everything from electrical machinery, computers, furniture, plastics, medical equipment, vehicles, textiles, iron and steel, and clothing. Those nine exports alone account for 1.7 trillion US dollars in Chinese global shipments. It’s not just America who buys these products and takes advantage of the cheap labor by outsourcing jobs. When the trade war between the U.S. and China escalated recently, China inked new trade deals with Europe, Russia, Asia-Pacific nations, and even Brazil. When the two countries found an agreement in late 2019, China pledged to buy 200 billion dollars of US goods and services in 2020 and 2021. China was never, ever on pace to even remotely meet that commitment.
What has given China an edge in the cutthroat global economy is that they may promise one thing but rarely honor their obligations. The news is riddled with stories of China walking away from financial obligations to the rest of the world. In one instance, they bilked global investors in 22 golf courses in the country out of over a billion dollars. China defaulted on what is by today’s accounting 1.6 trillion dollars owned by America in bonds on a century-old debt. It isn’t likely the communist government will ever make good on the previous government’s debt. At the same time, China holds 1.1 trillion dollars of American debt in 2021. That may not be as much of a problem as Japan’s ownership of almost 1.3 trillion dollars of American debt. The global economies are difficult to explain, but China’s demand for Treasury helps keep U.S. interest rates low. It allows the U.S. Treasury to borrow more at low rates. Congress can then increase the federal spending that, hypothetically, spurs U.S. economic growth. But these bonds issued to borrow against an uncertain future and the printing of money are a house of cards. Any rising conflict could result in the house of cards collapsing.
Add to this that the rumors of a Chinese cryptocurrency backed by the country’s fiat currency, the renminbi, and China’s intent to control financial markets are clear. For many years there have been strained relationships because China pegs its currency instead of allowing it to float freely. It’s akin to market manipulation. With the introduction of a cryptocurrency, they provide an avenue for direct payments outside of American sanctions. To underscore this point, they have squeezed out cryptocurrencies mining and operating within their borders in favor of their own central bank’s cryptocurrency, which has caused cryptocurrencies to plummet in price.
Many people dismiss cryptocurrencies because they see the stories of fraud, see no practical value to it, or they simply don’t understand it. The reality is that de-financed cryptocurrency outside traditional banking systems will become an ever-increasing share of global transactions. Recent years have witnessed a surge in the number of people handling digital payments, with the figure growing from 2.7 billion in 2017 to over 4.6 billion in 2020. In the next four years, the number of users in the digital payment segment is set to touch 6.4 billion. It’s expected to grow an additional 84% in the next four years.
This will result in consolidation into any digital asset capable of handling those transactions en masse. That will likely end up being a fiat currency-backed cryptocurrency. Despite not trusting the central bank of China and its blatant market manipulations in its favor, it may very well be China’s cryptocurrency. If you don’t understand that, you don’t have to in order to understand the threat. Think of it this way, if your paycheck was deposited in your account from your employer, you paid your bills online, and you swiped your card for your gas, groceries, and entertainment, when did you have a physical fiat currency in your hand? When did you pull greenbacks from your pocket and carry around a pocket full of change from the transactions? So would it matter if you got paid in dollars or a digital coin by some other name? You kind of are already being paid and transacting digitally.
Between China’s manufacturing output and global dependence upon this output, and its recent long vision of the future with cryptocurrency, it is establishing economic control over international economics. And, China doesn’t have a track record of wielding power for the greater good. The fact is that we are already engaged in an economic war with China, and many countries are losing by continuing to import the bulk of their products from China and exporting their debt and labor needs to the communist country.
THREAT #3: THE PLANET
Being a manufacturing powerhouse and ruling with an iron fist over your people comes at an environmental cost. Even with a pandemic raging worldwide, China’s C02 emissions reached a record high of 12 billion metric tons. Unfortunately, health and mortality data is never accurately reported from behind the red curtain, so we can only wonder what effect the toxic chemicals and air have on people. China’s emissions exceeded all developed nations in 2019. The country accounted for nearly 27% of the world’s greenhouse gasses. Though China has vowed to reach net-zero emissions by 2060, they neither have a track record of meeting their global responsibilities nor does a consensus of scientists believe that is soon enough. The country is currently running 1,058 coal plants – more than half the world’s capacity. The emissions leading to climate change argument aside, this is a damaging and toxic level of pollutants rising into the air and seeping into the world’s oceans. That can’t be good for the planet, even thousands of miles away.
A string of incidents, often caused by lax safety standards and criminal negligence, has resulted in widespread loss of life over the past five years from industrial accidents in the country. There was a blast at the Jinshangou coal mine in 2016, killing thirty-one people. Seventy-three people died in a 2015 Shenzhen landslide of a 20 story high pile of industrial waste. The Tianjin port explosion of 2015 killed 173 people, and one of the warehouses was found to have illegally contained 49,000 tons of highly toxic chemicals. Most recently, there is an “imminent radiological threat” from the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant. The French company that partly owns and operates the plant issued the warning. The US has been unable to get information from the tight-lipped Chinese government. Is this the next global nuclear disaster in the making? That remains to be seen.
In times of uncertainty and anxiety, it’s always nice for some people to have someone to blame. In times of COVID-19, the culprit seems abundantly clear–the People’s Republic of China. While I don’t subscribe to any conspiracy theories that lack hard evidence, I find it difficult not at least to acknowledge the possibility that COVID-19 did get unleashed on the world accidentally from a scalability study of viruses centered at the Wuhan labs. The fact is that the US pulled out of supporting that lab and that very specific research because of safety concerns. The incubation phase of the virus appears to exceed the standard quarantine safety protocols, and the epicenter of the origin point of the virus is located in the same city. There is an active investigation into the possibility, and given China’s other lax safety policies, we may be foolish to simply dismiss the possibility. Only time will tell what the truth is.
There is no denying one thing, however. China’s lax safety measures and industry at any cost approaches are having lasting global impacts. It’s just a matter of time before China has a large-scale accident that we will not have enough information about because of their need to save face and not be embarrassed. Nuclear, biological, or simply toxic air and water, we just can’t know what threat we face from China and what lasting effect it will have. It is difficult to protect yourself from things you can barely detect until it is too late. The global community is in a textbook abusive relationship with China. The country provides cheap labor and cheap goods, yet it abuses our greatest finite resource–the very planet where we live.
THREAT #4: CYBER-WARFARE
China, unlike Russia, is not as interested in destabilizing countries in a ransomware cyberwar, but they aren’t entirely out of the game either. There have recently been several such attacks that had a sophistication that far exceeds an individual hacker’s capability. The techniques used were more akin to state-sponsored attacks. In March, Microsoft warned the world that a Chinese state-sponsored hacking group called Hafnium had infected what would turn out to be tens of thousands of Microsoft Exchange servers in a weeks-long hacking blitz. The hackers in this particular attack left keys and backdoors to come back later. China is less interested in ransom. They are just interested in taking information. It has long been known that the nation has hacked multiple corporations’ research and development departments to steal trade and technology secrets.
The FBI has clearly stated, “The counterintelligence and economic espionage efforts emanating from the government of China and the Chinese Communist Party are a grave threat to the economic well-being and democratic values of the United States. To be clear, the adversary is not the Chinese people or people of Chinese descent or heritage. The threat comes from the programs and policies pursued by an authoritarian government. The Chinese government is employing tactics that seek to influence lawmakers and public opinion to achieve policies that are more favorable to China.”
Foreign Policy magazine estimated China’s hacker army to be anywhere from 50 to 100 thousand people. Their aggressive espionage efforts have attacked corporate and infrastructure systems. They have even gained some access to American military systems. It’s not just the U.S, though. Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Taiwan all claim to have been hacked by state-sponsored Chinese hackers. Just last year, the Vatican, of all places, reported that Chinese state-sponsored hackers operating under the name RedDelta hacked the Vatican’s computer network ahead of negotiations between China and the Vatican. These are just the many attacks we know of right now. Hundreds of thousands more go unreported or unnoticed. From secrets to information to espionage, China is collecting droves of data worldwide. It is very likely that, at some point, nations will clandestinely retaliate. This could cause a World Cyber War, as nation attacks nation, as they search for the culprit and victimize each other.
How many keys and backdoors are out there waiting for a zero-day cyber attack? The possibility of a cyberwar between Russia, China, and the United States is more probable than a physical military altercation. As evidenced by the Colonial Pipeline and other recent cyberattacks, one attack can have dramatic effects. Orchestrated attacks can have a crippling impact in a matter of seconds.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
So, what can you do to lessen the effect of and combat the four significant threats from China: war, economics, pollution, and cyber-attacks? The answer is you can’t do much individually. You could purchase fewer Chinese products. You could fight to keep jobs in your own country and buy local if you can, but that’s probably not enough for you to have any real impact. As a prepper, you would be far better off to concern yourself with approaching each threat as a threat to you. You can’t do much about a possible physical war with China, but you can reduce your consumption on which China depends. You can’t lessen the impact that Chinese manufacturing and disasters have on the planet’s pollution. Still, you can decrease your dependence on the mechanisms of a just-in-time manufacturing and shipping system that is repeatedly failing by becoming more self-sufficient. Though your latest virus protection software may keep you safe from some hackers, it won’t be enough to prevent state-sponsored hackers from attacking and shutting down your regional infrastructure systems. So, you should prepare to insulate yourself from them and function without them.
We prepare for natural disasters that may befall us because we see them as imminent. Well, we face at least four imminent threats from China right now. You should prepare to face them. Start by securing food and water to sustain you for 3-days, then 3-weeks, then 3-months, then a year or more. Increase your survival skills. Prepare your disaster kits and medical kits. Secure your energy sources outside of grid dependence. Learn from the videos on this channel and others channels like this one. Keep a clear head and prepare for these genuine threats. The grid will be attacked again, and one day it will go down. Supply chains that bring you food and medicine will fail again. The attacks on our systems won’t simply go away. They will increase in intensity, frequency, and magnitude.
The country of China won’t win any humanitarian or good global citizen awards anytime soon. In reality, conflicts with the communist country are likely to increase until they reach a point of boiling over. The resultant war, both overt and covert, could have a dramatic impact on your daily life. You would be wise to prepare for this possibility now.
What do you think? Which of the four threats we face from China do you feel is most likely to escalate out of control? Tell us in the comments below so other members can share in your insights.
As always, please stay safe out there.