Should Trump be imposing sanctions on China’s CCP members?
- Mao Zedong (1893-1976) founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and ruled as chairman to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) until his death.
- The CCP was founded in 1921 by Marxist revolutionaries Li Dazhao and Chen Duxiu. Under Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” initiative (spanning 1958-1962), nearly 45 million Chinese citizens were murdered under the regime’s authoritarian rule.
- China is the world’s most populous country, containing a recorded 1.43 billion in 2019. India is the world’s second-most populous country, closing the gap at 1.38 billion.
- Sanction is defined as “an official order that limits trade, contact, etc. with a particular country, in order to make it do something, such as obeying international law.”
- A list of recorded human rights violations and general grievances against the CCP includes, but is not limited to, the recent crushing of Hong Kong’s democracy; the unlawful detainment and 're-education' of the minority Muslim population; China’s one-child policy (1979-2015), which forced many abortions, infanticide, forced sterilizations, and child abandonment on countless women and families; continued forced sterilizations and forced abortions still happening today; China’s “surveillance state” routinely silencing critics at home and abroad; illegal organ harvesting of detainees; and more.
President Trump is right to impose sanctions on China's CCP members as a way to hold them accountable for human rights abuses – most notably, the mass detention of an estimated one million Uighurs and Kazakhs (i.e., ethnic minority, Turkic-speaking, natives of Xinjiang – an autonomous territory in northwest China). The Chinese government instituted harsh controls and restrictions in the region under the guise of anti-terrorism. Detention facilities were constructed, and citizens systematically rounded up, charged with being 'suspicious persons,' and sent to camps for re-education and training. Former detainees describe the facilities more like a prison, with punishments that included 'food deprivation, handcuffing, solitary confinement, beatings and torture.'
China is one of the largest trading partners of the U.S., and our commercial interests and citizens working abroad in China are affected by the potential political unrest and security risks caused by a totalitarian government that routinely violates the human rights of its people. Instituting sanctions (e.g., travel restrictions, access to financial assets, etc.) against China's CCP members is a way to apply political pressure and gain the support of our international allies, while avoiding a more severe conflict.
The Trump administration is taking a strong stand in defending human rights around the world. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formed the Commission on Unalienable Rights, and has put human rights at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy. By sanctioning China's CCP members, the Trump administration is likely forcing negotiations that will address the current rights abuses and effect positive changes. Trump is right to take these actions in support of individual liberties.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims that the sanctions are being imposed because of 'human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang.' However, the United States has significant issues of its own when it comes to human rights, so not only does this reasoning ring hollow, it invites the question of whether other countries should be sanctioning the U.S.
These actions are especially concerning considering the already-high tensions between the United States and China, a situation which has some worried about the possibility of war. The Trump administration, and Mike Pompeo, in particular, seems to be attempting to provoke these tensions. While the president himself doesn't always seem to have a clear policy direction on China, many of his actions could be construed as aggressive. He has also been criticized for filling his cabinet with 'China hawks.' Though some have warned against calling the current situation a 'new Cold War,' perhaps with good reason, there are some troubling similarities.
Acting as the 'world's policeman' has already cost the U.S. dearly, in both lives and treasure, and is not a practice we should continue. Research published by the Rand Corporation suggests that 'the economic consequences would be historically unparalleled' in a conflict with China. Even without an actual war, if the U.S. continues escalating tensions, economists warn that 'the dispute could morph into a damaging conflict that not only weakens the world's recovery from COVID-19, but also risks slowing important technological innovations.'