To Prove Courage Of Convictions, Woke Capital Must Challenge China’s Hong Kong Crackdown

To Prove Courage Of Convictions, Woke Capital Must Challenge China’s Hong Kong Crackdown

With the Trump administration formally recognizing the sad reality on the ground that once-free and democratic Hong Kong is being subsumed by communist China to such a degree that it can no longer treat the two systems as distinct, woke capital is being presented with an opportunity to practice what it preaches.

Will it steadfastly protest Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tyranny, or sit idly by in spite of its stated devotion to progressive principles in the service of all “stakeholders”?

Woke capital, consisting broadly of the financial services industry and Big Business, is particularly well-suited to challenge China because it plays such an outsized role in U.S.-China relations.

Commerce has been core to the development of such relations since before President Richard Nixon went to China.

The U.S. government, backed since at least the 1970s by the private sector, would, over time, foster economic ties with China and welcome it into the global economic and financial architecture America largely built and maintained. It did so on the bases of economic self-interest and idealism. The potential economic benefits were obvious.

The idealistic rationale relied on the illogic that economic liberalization would lead to political and cultural liberalization. However, trade does not sow a love of individual liberty, private property rights, and the rule of law into the hearts of men. Communist China used trade as a means to an end, enabling the CCP to ruthlessly pursue its primary interests: Retain and grow its power and influence — lying, cheating, stealing, and coercing its partners along the way.

Contrary to what the starry-eyed globalists promised, economic relations with China did not make it more liberal. Rather, the proceeds were used to bribe the beneficiaries into looking the other way on China’s illiberalism. Stated differently, trade with the Chinese corrupted us; it did not reform them.

China has used its relationship with the West as leverage to ensure our companies kowtow to the CCP, self-censor regarding CCP-backed malevolence — including economic predation to our companies’ own detriment — and push a CCP-supported agenda on policymakers in Washington.

But U.S. companies have leverage too. If woke capital really had the courage of convictions, it could:

  • Support legislation barring Chinese entities from our capital markets and Chinese investments into American entities
  • Pull all operations from mainland China
  • Lobby for Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for Hong Kong refugees
  • Use their leverage to sway others, including the media and academia, to make analogous moves

These tactics might not change CCP behavior with respect to Hong Kong, but even executing one of these items would materially affect the CCP’s global march.

Those in the business world might suggest that what happens in Hong Kong is of no concern to American “stakeholders.” The CCP, however, is most responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 Americans. It continues to lash out against our citizens, allies, and partners around the world. The global economy — the main basis of businesses’ willingness to tolerate Chinese “political risk” — has collapsed. Ending the aiding, abetting, and enabling of the CCP is of manifest importance to the most important stakeholder of all: the American people.

The woke capital agenda in practice appears to be an anti-jobs program. If its players remain devoted to effectively empowering communist China — in spite of not just its assault on Hong Kong, but its Xinjiang gulags and pervasive violations of the human rights of anyone who dares dissent from the CCP anti-religion — it will be a morally bankrupt one at that.

Ben Weingarten is a Federalist senior contributor, senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and fellow at the Claremont Institute. He was selected as a 2019 Robert Novak Journalism fellow of the Fund for American Studies, under which he is currently working on a book on U.S.-China policy. You can find his work at benweingarten.com, and follow him on Twitter @bhweingarten.
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