Democrats and Republican Never Trumpers are celebrating Chinese interference in the U.S. presidential election.
On Saturday night, Trump opponents revealed that they had used viral videos on the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok to urge young people to flood the Trump campaign website with fake requests for tickets to the president’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The result: predictions for hundreds of thousands of fans, but a half-empty BOK Center stadium.
It is a deep embarrassment for the Trump campaign, and indeed for the Trump administration itself.
President Trump has rightly criticized his predecessor for allowing Russian interference to take place in the 2016 election. Now he can be accused of allowing China to do the same.
Regardless, the Tulsa fiasco is also a sign that China is the central issue in the 2020 campaign.
China has siphoned away American jobs and production for three decades, a trend that President Donald Trump is the first Western leader to challenge. It flooded the U.S. with opioids, killing tens of thousands of people annually and creating millions of addicts. It allowed the coronavirus to spread internally, then internationally.
Now China is meddling in U.S. elections. It has been interfering for decades, ever since the Chinese government funneled money to President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996.
In 2018, China targeted vulnerable U.S. congressional districts with tariffs and with propaganda against U.S. trade policy, which may have helped Democrats win several Republican-held districts.
Now, in 2020, TikTok has emerged as an effective tool for dirty tricks.
Notably, Facebook and Twitter have censored the president, the latter for allegedly providing inaccurate information a tweet protesting California’s new (and possibly unconstitutional) vote by mail system.
But TikTok just allowed Trump foes to manipulate the campaign openly and proudly. (Notably, Trump opponents also encouraged the prank on other platforms. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) saluted it on Twitter; she has not yet been flagged for encouraging election interference.)
The danger extends beyond the 2020 election. Chinese-owned applications like TikTok have become ubiquitous in the past few years, and especially during the coronavirus pandemic. The videoconferencing service Zoom, a must-have app during the shutdowns, routes some of its traffic through China and recently suspended a Chinese dissident account for hosting a conference call to mark the 31st anniversary of the massacre of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.
Meanwhile, left-wing mobs in American cities continue to rampage. Protests that began over the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota — a rare event — became riots that burned businesses and forced storefronts across the nation to board up to prevent looting. Left-wing groups are still destroying statues — not just of Confederate figures or colonial-era explorers, but of George Washington, abolitionists, and Civil War heroes like Ulysses S. Grant.
It is an American version of China’s Cultural Revolution. (Even China’s state-owned media have begun calling it America’s Cultural Revolution — approvingly.) And the most striking thing about it is that there is not one left-wing figure, not one Democratic leader — much less Joe Biden, the party’s hapless presumptive presidential nominee — who is speaking out against it.
Instead, we have former National Security Adviser John Bolton speaking out against the president, claiming his policy on China was too weak. Ironically, he is helping China fight its first real American opponent.
Biden has appeased China for years — from encouraging its integration into global trade, to seeking personal financial opportunities for his corrupt son, Hunter Biden. During the campaign, Biden has continued to mock the idea that China is a competitor. He will seek to accommodate China, not to confront it.
The 2020 election just became about China — in a big way. And the result could determine whether the United States prevails, or fails, in the fight to protect our freedom.