Reaping What We Sowed: Coronavirus Pandemic Is Our Wake Up Call
Suzanne Scholte, June 5, 2020, Commentary
One great positive development that could result from the coronavirus pandemic. is the potential for the international community to finally wake up to the atrocities the Chinese Communist Party has been committing since its inception.
For too long, the CCP’s crimes against humanity have been ignored, and now we’re all reaping what we sowed.
It all started in 1971 at the United Nations when a critical vote was taken. I have a strong memory of that day, because as a child I remember my mother being so shaken and angry. I remember her presenting us, her children, a list of countries she had written out carefully on a yellow piece of paper in her beautiful script handwriting that we had to boycott because they had done something absolutely horrible.
It was Oct. 25, 1971, and these nations had just voted to have communist China, replace the Republic of China as a member state of the United Nations. On that date, the ambassador to China of then-communist Albania, Reis Malile, whose country had introduced the resolution, gleefully pointed out that vote was “a great defeat for the United States of America,” while exalting the great People’s Republic of China as “a bastion of socialism and justice.”
Giving communist China U.N. status began the ascent of a dictatorship, that was propelled to greater and greater power as, during the succeeding decades, both Republican and Democratic administrations, sold out the people of China—and the people of America—with the false narrative, that opening up to China economically would lead to China improving its human rights.
Although I was not able to boycott every country on that 1971 list, I was successful for my entire youth to never buy a single product made in communist China. Only as a young mother was I forced to break down on my boycott, because I had two young sons who needed sneakers, and Converse All Stars had joined the many American companies, who sold their souls (no pun intended) to communist China, for cheap labor at the expense of the American worker, and human rights concerns. You could no longer find a pair of sneakers, that was made in America.
While our political elites were selling out to China, we repeatedly turned our backs, on those who were suffering there. Another vivid memory I have, is being at a meeting of conservative leaders to press then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, on why then-President George Bush was selling out to the communists. It was bad enough that former President Jimmy Carter had given..most-favored nation status to China… Was the United States also going to turn its back, on the political prisoners in labor camps, and the hundreds of students murdered in Tianamen Square?
Sununu, who had just returned from a trip to China, assured us that there was no turning back—China’s booming economy and our trade relationship was going to lead to reform! Yes, capitalism will lead the way forward!
How many times in subsequent years, of both Republican and Democratic presidencies have we heard that sorry misleading statement, or the one “China is on a peaceful rise”?
One thing both the left and right in congress, and the human rights community have been in unity about, is concern about the CCP. We were all dismayed when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) picked Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. Again, the IOC assured that this would lead to China opening up to reform. Instead, the CCP intensified its police state.
While we skipped away to this fantasy, betraying our own American workers, and international human rights concerns, how many Chinese and other citizens of the world suffered: 15 million were killed in China’s labor camp system, while another 40 million to 50 million suffered imprisonment there; the people of Tibet continue to suffer under brutal occupation; the Uighurs of Xinjiang have at least 1 million, and possibly as many as 3 million of their people jailed in concentration camps; and practitioners of Falun Gong since 1999, have been under brutal persecution, including hundreds of thousands imprisoned with many killed to harvest their organs.
So many Chinese heroes, from intellectuals like Charter 08 author Liu Xiaobo, to labor activists like Wei Zhili, from lawyers like Gao Zhisheng, to journalists like Zhang Wenmin, have been killed, jailed, or disappeared, while tens of millions of girls have been aborted, due to the CCP’s One Child Policy, and abortions forced upon mothers who were pregnant with their second child.
The CCP has for decades brutally repatriated hundreds of thousands of North Korean men, women, and children back to North Korea to face certain torture and imprisonment, and even death for simply wanting to survive. We have yet to calculate the death toll of North Koreans killed by China’s repatriation policies.
The failure of the international community due to expediency, and greed to address the suffering of the people of China, is now clearly exposed for all to see, in how the CCP unleashed the coronavirus on an unsuspecting world.
We may have turned our backs on the people of China, the Tibetans, the Uighurs, Falun Gong practitioners, and the North Korean refugees, but now because we are reaping what we sowed, it is our chance to address this wrong, and never again sacrifice the well-being of human beings, to this brutal and evil dictatorship.
Suzanne Scholte is the president of the Defense Forum Foundation, which has hosted many Chinese dissidents on Capitol Hill since the 1990s.