How an American businessman launders the Chinese regime’s propaganda line

by J Michael Waller / Center for Security Policy / May 2, 2020 – The Chinese regime depends on foreigners to launder its propaganda to mask the original source. Many of these transmission belts are subtle. Peter B. Walker of the McKinsey & Company management consulting firm, may have set a new record for propaganda-laundering. Writing in the April 30 South China Morning Post, Walker managed to push a Chinese propaganda theme in every single sentence of his op-ed.

Walker is an influential opinion leader among American businesses with interests in China. He is author of a new book on China-US relations

Here’s a sentence-by-sentence breakdown of Walker’s entire essay, with no deletions from his text. With the party line added in bold and Walker’s sentences in chronological order, this breakdown shows how how Walker parrots the precise themes that the Chinese Communist Party has set since Xi Jinping’s January 20 declaration on how to handle the pandemic.

  • Headline: US needs different ‘mindset.’ “Shift in mindset needed so US can work with China to tackle coronavirus pandemic and other global issues.”
  • Subhead: Quit containment to ‘move towards co-leadership on global issues.’  “Instead of containment and conflict, the US and China need to engage constructively, accept intractable differences, and move towards co-leadership on global issues from climate and hunger to nuclear proliferation.”
  • Pandemic makes it vital for US to improve its relations with China regime. “We have reached a critical inflection point in our relationship with China, made all the more urgent due to Covid-19. The virus and resulting pandemic are an unfolding story, yet several lessons have emerged.
  • US was unprepared even though ‘the viral threat became well known.’ “The first is that most countries – including the United States – were simply unprepared, even as the viral threat became well known.”
  • US has a lot to learn from China’s fine example. “We also know there is much to learn from countries that have responded relatively well to the pandemic: South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and, yes, China.”
  • Chinese regime is a good model. “They have experienced relatively modest health and economic effects so far, thanks to some combination of extensive testing, monitoring, social distancing and quarantining.”
  • US should partner with China to fully fund WHO. “Imagine how the world would celebrate if the US and China were to announce a coordinated and continuing leadership through a fully funded and staffed World Health Organisation.”
  • WHO would then ‘rapidly develop and distribute a vaccine.’ “The WHO could then disseminate its research on the make-up and spread of the virus, profile of the most vulnerable, most effective mitigation techniques, medical supplies, hospital facilities and staff required, and work necessary to rapidly develop and distribute a vaccine.”
  • Keep the current ‘global supply chains.’ “Stockpiles could quickly be built up and accessed via global supply chains. If that model were in place when Covid-19 hit, the human and economic losses are likely to have been a fraction of what they will be.”
  • US should be working with China, not ‘blaming the pandemic squarely on the Chinese.’ “Instead of working with China, we find ourselves doing the opposite, like many in the US, blaming the pandemic squarely on the Chinese. How did we arrive at this historic low point?”
  • US was wrong to expect a wealthier China to become democratic. “For decades after the US and China normalised relations in 1979, the US assumed a wealthier China would shift towards liberal democracy as Chinese people demanded greater freedoms and the right to select their leaders.” [Comment: No objection here, but Walker’s assertion tees up to legitimize the CCP.]
  • America is to blame for all of the problems with China. “Over the past decade, the US has come to understand that its assumption was wrong and that China threatened its role as the undisputed global leader, economically. China began to be perceived as a strategic threat instead.
    • US ‘containment’ is bad. “This led to a new US strategy of containment. Economically, we took initiatives to substantially increase intellectual property protection, reduce the trade deficit with China and repatriate manufacturing jobs.”
    • US wages economic warfare against China. “We also launched a trade war.”
    • US denied technology to China and kept international sea lanes open. “We cut China’s access to some advanced technologies and challenged it in the South China Sea.”
    • US made an issue of Chinese espionage. “We accused visiting Chinese students and scientists of spying, and tightened up on their visas.”
    • US opposed Belt & Road and ‘debt trap’ diplomacy. “We attacked the Belt and Road Initiative as a debt trap designed to force China’s will and governance model on developing countries.”
    • US opposed Huawei on 5G. “We urged other countries to ban the use of 5G leader Huawei, on the theory that Beijing would access transmissions to spy.”
  • America’s nasty policies backfired. “Yet containment has accomplished little other than to increase tensions (with the exception of the long overdue intellectual property protection). In many cases, they had the opposite effect.”
    • American colleges may lose $15 billion. “US colleges face US$15 billion hit as Chinese students stay away amid coronavirus pandemic.”
    • China’s economy is growing faster than America’s. “China’s economy, though slowed by the trade war, continues to grow significantly faster than America’s, fuelled by urbanisation, a rapidly growing middle class and a rising services industry.”
    • Belt and Road generates goodwill and prosperity. “The Belt and Road Initiative is generating substantial goodwill and economic opportunities, with China’s trade with Africa now nearly four times larger than the US’. China is positioned to succeed, given its advances in renewable energy, high-speed rail5G, advanced computing and artificial intelligence.”
    • China’s future is much brighter than America’s. “Every year, it adds a population of graduating scientists, technology specialists, engineers and mathematicians several times larger than the comparable US graduate pool.
    • US strategy is a total fail. “In nearly every way, containment has failed.”
  • US needs to partner with China for ‘collective global leadership.’“What we need is a return to constructive engagement that would lead to collective global leadership.”
  • US must undergo a ‘fundamental mindset shift.’ “For this, the US needs another fundamental mindset shift. There needs to be acceptance on both sides – particularly the US – that each country’s model is rooted in its unique history and culture.”
    • US has its own political model. “The US model emerged from early settlers’ experience in Europe. Having escaped monarchies, a class-driven economic system and limited freedoms, the founding fathers designed a minimalist democratic government with maximum freedoms. The idea was to have America shaped and driven by its free enterprise economy, not the government.”
    • China has a Confucian [not Communist] model. “China’s model was shaped by Confucian values with a focus on family and society. Its history of constant threats of invasions from the north, floods, famines and other disasters also led, almost inevitably, to an all-powerful central government. Implicit in the model is that, like dynasties, governments would endure as long as they had people’s support.”
    • ‘China selects its leaders through merit.’ “Unlike the US, where citizens expect some sense of control while selecting leaders through elections, China selects its leaders through merit, ongoing performance reviews and examinations.”
    • The Chinese people overwhelmingly support Xi Jinping’s regime. “China has no popular election above local-government level but popular support for the government is among the highest globally, according to Pew Foundation research.”
    • China is among the ‘most peaceful’ countries on earth. “For thousands of years, China focused inward – in contrast to an interventionist US spreading democracy and protecting human rights. China still has among the most peaceful records of any major country in terms of involvement in foreign wars.”
    • Chinese regime wants the best for its people and is not interventionist. “It is active globally to improve its economy for the ultimate benefit of its people. Despite assertions by China hawks, China has proven it has no interest in exporting its governance model.”
    • US should accept the Chinese regime as it is, and cooperate. “Such is the unchangeable nature at the core of the US and Chinese models. If the two powers can accept what cannot be changed – and cannot be expected to change – the doors would begin to open for cooperation, which we need desperately.”
    • The pandemic is a ‘great start’ for cooperation. “Dealing with the pandemic jointly would be a great start. Many other global issues stand to benefit enormously, such as climate change, clean air and water, hunger, refugee crises and nuclear proliferation. China would welcome this development.”
    • US and China should ‘co-lead on global issues.’ “Whether the US is ready to accept China as it is, refocus its energy and resources on core domestic issues, and co-lead on global issues, remains a question. Far easier to ask if the world would celebrate such a partnership. It would.”