Indeed, there are 100 pages of examples of the most remorseless Chinese successes at stealing the military and industrial secrets of the West and converting them into a growing menace -- soon to be a leviathan -- bent on domination and defeat of America. The authors itemize the sheer, unprecedented magnitude of this effort. But the opening chapters dealt with human rights abuses, and my first thought as I started reading was that I wanted to get right to the military and industrial examples.
But the authors were right to lead with 50 pages itemizing in grizzly detail Chinese human rights abuses -- for the profound reason that after reading those first 50 pages, the reader will be impassioned to resist Chinese domination not only on behalf of American interests, but also for the sake of humanity.
Today, many people think America is in decline and mentally acquiesce to the thought that the rise of China is inevitable. Those 50 pages will stiffen your resolve to be part of the struggle to never let such a malignancy spread to the rest of the world -- let alone to America. One of the authors, Brett Decker, is a friend -- and I have never been more proud of his (and his co-author's) accomplishment of providing such a deep moral vision in this carefully factual book.
In an astounding narrative, Decker and Triplett have refuted the growing authoritarian temptation expressed for too many elite people around the world by Thomas Friedman, the senior New York Times foreign-policy columnist who wrote recently: "One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century."
The authors do not mention Friedman. In those first 50 pages, they focus their compelling narrative on a strictly factual expose of the moral horror being brought down on the Chinese people by their ever-more-powerful Chinese leadership.
The authors carefully delineate the reversal in the last decade of the previous modest Chinese movement toward rule of law and a small hint at decency. It had been the hope of everyone from Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger onward that as China came into the world and embraced capitalism it would become "a modern, progressive society that (would) eventually bring the communist state in line with the rest of the civilized world." That was the moral foundation for "engaging" with China. It was also a convenient rationalization for trying to make a fortune in the vast Chinese market.
But, grimly, the authors explicate the sad fact that the engagement was a false dawn. In the last decade, it has gotten worse and worse as the Chinese leadership has now consolidated its power. Oligarchic "princelings"-- the 200 to 300 descendants of the founders of the Communist Party -- have gained a stranglehold on both the business and government of China. They are using the incomprehensibly vast power that comes with that total control to buy off the business class, exploit the working class and peasants, and prepare China to replace America as the world's dominant nation.
Once you have read the first searing 50 pages of this book, the hope that China is becoming a "decent," liberal society is no longer morally available to you. I mention Friedman because of his claim that Chinese leaders are a "reasonably enlightened group of people." The authors' narrative shows Friedman's words to be not merely fatuous, but uniquely immoral.
Whatever one thinks about the influence of Western civilization on the broader world over the past half millennium, it can be said that the West has lived out a "reasonably enlightened" view of humanity. It would be far different under Chinese domination. Here is just one of hundreds of examples offered by the authors of the moral pit that China has become: "It is routine for children as young as 9 years old and for the mentally handicapped to be sold to sweatshops where they work around the clock in slave-like conditions. Tragically, child labor is most common in toy factories. Other workers initially take jobs voluntarily but then are padlocked in dormitories and forced to work up to 18 hours a day in a subhuman environment." Those cheap toys found on American shopping shelves come at a horribly high price.
The authors systematically assess the evil intents and consequences of the Communist government from child labor and the environment to the selection and murder of prisoners for their body parts. After a particularly riveting narrative of the Chinese regime's religious intolerance, the authors conclude with Pope Benedict XVI's soul- rending observation: "In China, Christ is living out His Passion."
Just as the authors are ferocious on the Chinese regime, they are just as tough on the Washington elites who help the Chinese. The authors name names and present chapter and verse of how China -- and their American allies -- penetrate U.S. business and government secrets. The failure of our government to even begin to resist the Chinese threat is aptly described as a bipartisan failure of both vision and will, if not patriotism. But it is fair to say that President Obama, in particular, will not enjoy reading this book, although he would vastly benefit from reading it, as would the country if he were to act on the authors' advice.