U.S. Homeland Security: Communist China Is Threatening America and the World
Chad F. Wolf, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), recently spoke about the serious threat posed by communist China to America and the world. During an online meeting of the Heritage Foundation on December 20, he said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has not only been trampling on human rights, but has also been shaping the world according to communist ideology and harming the lives of Americans.
He said the Trump administration had taken a series of actions including limiting visa terms of CCP officials to one month, welcoming Hong Kong refugees in 2021, and curbing the importation of slave-labor products.
The CCP Is Changing the World with Communism
Wolf said America's founders “had a powerful vision for this nation,” that is, to be “a bastion of freedom” and “a beacon of hope to those suffering across the world.” To that end, America has defeated tyrants, terrorists, and oppressors around the world. America helped end the Cold War and with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, ushering “in an unprecedented period of freedom, peace, and prosperity.”
“But as we reveled in the afterglow of our Cold War victory, Communist leaders in Beijing were biding their time, learning from the mistakes of others, and preparing to mount a civilizational challenge to America,” Wolf remarked, “Today, the threats to our peace and prosperity emanate largely from China.”
He clarified that he referred to the leadership in Beijing, not the Chinese people suppressed by it. “The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) picked up the mantle of Communist ideology and has adapted it to our times. Today, the ideology that fueled the Soviet Union is alive and well in China,” he continued.
This is because the CCP views the current free and open liberal economic and democratic world order as a political and ideological threat. “It wants to reshape the world in its image: centrally-planned and authoritarian. A world in which the Chinese government can pick the winners and losers. Where every decision isn’t about helping the most people—but instead about helping the Chinese regime,” he added.
With this ideological mindset, the CCP’s actions are threatening the Western economy, people, and way of life. As a result, “they employ underhanded tactics to destabilize Western nations and further their ends.”
A systemic approach was adopted. “Instead of competing fairly on a level playing field, China undermines the international system. Instead of fighting on the conventional battlefield, China wages secret disinformation and propaganda wars to cripple us from within,” Wolf said, “The results they have achieved thus far should concern every American.”
This came from the CCP’s authoritarian ideology, which is intertwined with China’s malign actions. “They share a philosophical premise: the belief that the CCP can ruthlessly pursue its ends regardless of whom it hurts along the way—be it millions of people now at risk of COVID across the globe or China’s own oppressed citizens, who cannot start their families, practice their faiths, or speak their minds without the fear of swift and inhumane government retribution,” he explained.
A similar approach was also taken to attack the U.S. “In the truest sense of the word, it is a totalitarian state,” he continued, “The centralization of Chinese political, technological, and economic power, the monopoly on resources and industry, the disregard for human rights and dignity, and their own people’s fear of government retribution—these traits, together, make the Chinese regime a serious threat to the United States and to the entire world.”
“This combination of qualities enables the Chinese Communist Party to undermine the values of liberal democracies—liberty and equality, honesty and transparency. Their government has launched political, economic, and cultural attacks that harm our Homeland and our people,” he added, “It is high time for us to recognize these attacks for what they are—and to respond accordingly.”
The CCP Targets America from Within
Wolf said his agency released a report on Homeland Threat Assessment (HTA) in October, the first report of its kind in DHS history. While the report covers all kinds of threats the agency has to combat every day, a significant portion of it is related to China.
For example, the CCP attacks the legitimacy of the American political system. "Each day, Chinese operatives engage in disinformation campaigns designed to mislead the American public, pressure political figures, shape U.S. discourse in China’s favor, and shift responsibility for the deadly COVID-19 pandemic to others,” Wolf said.
“These operatives exploit cultural and commercial ties to lobby our state and local governments to adopt pro-China policies. Beijing abuses its economic leverage to manipulate major American companies into toeing the Party line at the expense of truth and free expression,” he explained, “As we have recently seen, they engage in espionage at even state and local levels of our government.”
Another area is the cyber threat. “China poses a high cyber threat to the Homeland—demonstrated by continued cyber espionage against the U.S. government and businesses and their increasing ability to threaten and potentially disrupt U.S. critical infrastructure,” Wolf remarked, “China’s cyber capabilities should alarm all Americans. A cyber-attack on our critical infrastructure could be catastrophic.”
Intentional attacks on the economy are also serious. “China is a top threat to U.S. supply chain security and a persistent source of counterfeit goods. Whereas American businesses are the world leaders in innovation, China is the world’s leader in counterfeits. Chinese counterfeiters send fake medicines, contaminated cosmetics, and defective auto parts--to name but a few--in massive volumes,” he continued, adding the list extended to fake Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID crisis.
Because of unfair practices of the CCP, American companies were put out of business, harming the livelihoods of many American families.
To achieve that, “China exploits our academic and visa systems to advance its military and economy, using a wide range of government, non-government, and private actors and platforms,” he added. For example, the CCP abuses the free economy and steals trade secrets by sending visiting professors, scholars, and students to the U.S. to obtain information or replicate the work done in the U.S.
Furthermore, the CCP directly harms the lives of countless Americans. Fentanyl and precursor chemicals from China poured into the U.S. through transnational criminal organizations. “COVID-19—which originated in China and made its way to the United States after an inept and deceitful response from the Chinese government—has claimed the lives of more than three hundred thousand Americans and harmed millions more,” he added.
“Simply put, our people are suffering and dying every day because of the Chinese Communist Party,” Wolf explained, “Today, it is imperative that we have a shared understanding regarding the threats we face. Only then can we come together to protect the Homeland against China’s actions.”
Threats Ignored in the Past
“Unfortunately, many of the most powerful members of our society have failed to recognize this threat—or worse, have chosen to ignore it,” he pointed out, “The first priority of American leaders should be to protect the American people—not to act as sycophants and mouthpieces for Chinese propaganda. Yet too often politicians, at all levels of government, have fallen short of these ideals.”
“Major technology companies, which have seen unparalleled success thanks to our free and open economic system, have turned their backs on the principles and the country which helped foster their growth,” he added.
“A 2017 U.S. Trade Representative report found that Chinese theft of American intellectual property costs our country as much as $600 billion dollars each year. Our responses to such behavior have been weak or nonexistent,” he explained, “Meanwhile, our own media institutions, tainted by Chinese influence, refuse to report on this threat. Even worse, sometimes American media itself is the platform for CCP propaganda.”
One example is China Daily. The well-known CCP mouthpiece, paid millions of dollars to major American newspapers to print pro-Beijing supplements designed to look like real news articles.
“Entertainment media has also fallen under China’s trance. Today, major Hollywood production companies and directors censor products to please Beijing in the hopes of tapping into the Chinese market,” he added, “China’s ability to compromise the most powerful institutions, companies, and politicians in our country highlights the threat posed by the Beijing regime to the rights and freedoms of everyday Americans.”
“This threat requires a swift response. Otherwise, five, ten, twenty years from now, will we look back and ask, ‘how did we allow this to happen?’” said Wolf.
Countering the CCP by the Trump Administration
From day one, President Trump has led a whole-of-government response. DHS has played a critical role in this strategy.
For example, screening procedures were tightened against individuals who may steal sensitive information and technology for the CCP. Chinese students and researchers with ties to their Military Civil Fusion strategy were also barred from entry to the U.S.
Furthermore, implementation of Congress’s longstanding requirement was updated to exclude Communist and totalitarian party members. “Consistent with recent action taken by the Department of State, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is working to limit the period of admission for CCP members visiting the United States—who in the past might have received 10-year visas—to a maximum of one month,” Wolf said.
“We are initiating regulatory reforms to impose transparency requirements and shed light on CCP front groups operating on U.S. college campuses and in public schools,” he added, “Given Beijing’s failure to timely accept return of illegal aliens who have had their day in court and received final orders of removal, I recommended and the State Department has issued visa sanctions on China.”
In Fiscal Year 2021, U.S. will be specifically welcoming refugees who are nationals or habitual residents of Hong Kong.
“As the nation’s largest law enforcement organization, DHS has been intercepting dangerous and illegal drugs originating in China—especially opioids,” he explained, “In 2019 alone, DHS seized enough fentanyl to kill every American four times over, much of which is believed to have originated in China.”
DHS also continues to investigate individuals, companies, and networks with Chinese ties attempting to misuse U.S. military and dual-use technologies for Beijing’s benefit.
“Our targeting includes seizing products originating in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in Western China that is home to the Uyghur ethnic minority—millions of whom the CCP has imprisoned in concentration camps and forced to work in factories,” he added, “We have had several successes on that front, including the recent seizure of 13 tons of products made with human hair—presumably taken from detainees in the Xinjiang camps.”
Working With Intelligence and Other Countries
"This is just the beginning of our law enforcement’s crackdown on the CCP’s abuses," Wolf said. “In August, our partners in the Intelligence Community notified the public that the Chinese Communist Party has been expanding its efforts to shape policy in the U.S. and manipulate politicians to favor Chinese interests,” he said, “In response, DHS partnered with local election leaders across the country to make sure our elections were as safe and secure as possible.”
“These partnerships included briefings for state and local officials so they can protect themselves against espionage by CCP meddlers, as well as the identification and development of countermeasures for cyber vulnerabilities,” he explained.
DHS is also working hand-in-hand with American companies and law enforcement to prevent the import of goods produced with Chinese slave labor and have alerted companies to espionage vulnerabilities in our information and communications infrastructure.
Efforts were also made to mitigate the risk posed by Chinese foreign investment. “Earlier this year, DHS—along with the Department of Justice and Department of Defense—recommended that the Federal Communications Commission deny the connection of a state-of-the-art undersea cable between the United States and Hong Kong,” he continued, “This denial was necessary to mitigate national security concerns and protect U.S. consumer data.”
DHS also pays attention to places where Chinese companies illicitly collect data on American consumers or steal intellectual property. “As an example, DHS is reviewing entities such as the Chinese manufacturer TCL. This year it was discovered that TCL incorporated backdoors into all of its TV sets exposing users to cyber breaches and data exfiltration,” he said, “TCL also receives CCP state support to compete in the global electronics market, which has propelled it to the third-largest television manufacturer in the world.”
“We are also working to combat Chinese malign influence in the Western Hemisphere and partnering with other government agencies—including the U.S. Agency for International Development, with which DHS will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding—to foster development for a Hemisphere free from Communist manipulation,” he added.
Wolf said DHS would soon be releasing our Strategic Action Plan to Counter the People’s Republic of China—an innovative document built from President Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy and the 2020 U.S. Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s ideology and China’s recent malign actions are linked,” he explained, “The Communist threat we unwisely believed was behind us in the last century is not a ghost of the past. It continues to stalk freedom and liberty today in the form of the Chinese Communist Party.”
“It is a clear and present danger we cannot afford to ignore, for the good of our country, our way of life, and our civilization,” he added.
By Li Yanbai (Minghui)