Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century

by Josh Rogin, 2021

Nate told me about this book. It’s about what went on with China during Trump’s presidency. It’s written by Josh Rogin, a columnist for the Washington Post and an analyst for CNN. He knows of what he speaks (writes). He’s meticulously detailed. He is not partisan. I’m glad I read this because I learned a lot. But it was a very difficult read – so many names and events. I didn’t know China was as bad as it is – ‘It is evil and it must be destroyed.” That about says it all. China is into the USA politically, technically, corporately, educationally, financially; they want to be the ruler of the world. They are committing atrocities and denying freedoms of speech, religion, even thoughts. They give people and other entities a social credit score. They are watching them 24/7– “Orwellian.”

The way Trump handled China was impulsive, immature, chaotic. His advisors changed all the time and they were from different camps – wanting to play nice (because of the money they made off of China) vs. wanting to be tough and bring the hammer down on China. China is perpetrating human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and their own people; They are stealing our technology and intellectual property, infiltrating Wall Street, our educational institutions, our media and social media. Something had to be done. Obama was the same as preceding presidents – soft on China in hopes they would come around. Trump desperately wanted to make a deal with Xi and called him a great friend, then he would get mad at him and slap tariffs on China and make threats.

Josh Rogin credits Trump with waking us up to the threat that China is, but Trump and his administration were so dysfunctional, nothing of consequence could be done. There’s no going back, however, to the way it used to be with China – looking for cooperation and ignoring its bad actions – and Rogin believes the tariffs need to remain as some sort of leverage over China.

Trump could care less about the human rights abuses of Xi and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He even told Xi that he thought the camps Xi was building for the Uyghurs were a good idea.

One other interesting thing I learned is that the coronavirus did not originate in a seafood market in Wuhan. There was a huge cover-up, of course. Much evidence was destroyed. There are theories but no one really knows where it came from.

Good, informative book. Glad I read it.

He goes into how Russia interfered in the 2016 election that gave us Trump: they used the internet and loaded lots of propaganda on Twitter and Facebook. China is using relationships to influence us; relationships built over the long-term, costing billions, spread throughout the world, and all overseen by the United Front Work Department.

This China problem should not be a partisan issue – it should unite us, not divide us.

There are people in our government making lots of money off of China – Neil Bush, Jared Kushner, Hunter Biden, Mitch McConnell and his wife Elaine Chao, the (Jimmy) Carter Center, the Montana Senator Steve Daines who got a deal with China to buy Montana beef. The list goes on and on. Where money is involved, people turn a blind eye to evil.

In 2018, China tried to force airlines to remove Taiwan from all of their materials. The NBA got in big trouble when Houston Rockets GM tweeted to stand with Hong Kong. Trump refused to take a stand against China where Hong Kong was concerned.

The other thing I learned is that the Confucius Institutes on college campuses were run by the CCP and many were used to spy. Many colleges have quietly closed them

In 2003, the SARS outbreak originated in China. It was a type of coronavirus thought to have originated in bats to palm civets and there to humans. China “failed to alert the WHO in a timely manner, suppressing information about the outbreak..”

The US embassy in China sent three teams of experts in late 2017 and early 2018 to inspect the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). They cabled Washington that more needed to be done to help that lab meet safety standards – they were conducting “gain of function” experiments which make the bat coronavirus more infectious to humans. They told the American diplomats: “…they didn’t have enough properly trained technicians to safely operate their BSL-4 lab. The Wuhan scientists were asking for more support to get the lab up to top standards.”

The US diplomats were warning their colleagues back in Washington that the research being done at the WIV lab was in danger of causing a public health crisis. They kept the cables unclassified because they wanted more people back home to be able to read and share them. But there was no response from State Department headquarters. And as US-China tensions rose over the course of 2018, American diplomats lost access to labs such as the one at the WIV–and therefore lost visibility into the very issue to which they were trying to draw the attention of the US government.

The cable was a warning shot,” one US official said. “They were begging people to pay attention to what was going on.” The world would be paying attention soon enough–but by then, it would be too late.