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The New Art of War and China’s Undeclared Conflict with the United States

When the news about COVID-19 first began to appear in December, I was working on this review of William Holstein’s fascinating book “The New Art of War,” which highlights the unspoken war China has been waging against the West.

As COVID became more and more newsworthy, I wanted to take caution in not appearing to “pile on” as China was reeling from the effects of this awful virus. However, after the tragic losses and damage the US (and the rest of the world) has suffered, this book is clearly more important than ever to help frame the dialogue for the potential post-Covid-19 China, US, and world new order. Simply put, Holstein’s book highlights the long-term nature of China’s war with the US and the world, and outlines how China’s attitude towards other countries–and lack of transparency when transparency is needed–is a danger to us all. It is a hard-hitting and unvarnished call out of the many bad practices China continues to implement. In a COVID-19-ravaged world, it is a must-read.

“…China’s government, particularly under President [Jinping] Xi’s leadership, is determined to defend its own values. It does not respect our values or our institutions. In fact, Xi has argued that Chinese Communism is a superior system. And he has geared up an impressive government- and party-wide effort to help it prevail in the world.” – Holstein, The New Art of War

What is the “New War?”

A cartoon of the comparisons between old war and new war
The ‘New Art of War’ illustrates the various ways China is secretly battling the West.

Holstein divides the New Art of War into three parts, with the part one–”Acquiring American Technology”–outlining the nefarious ways China has sought to obtain US intellectual property and part two focusing on their clandestine influence over American policy.

According to Holstein, China has been waging this “new war” for quite some time, we just didn’t realize it. Of course, there are no soldiers, tanks, and bombs being deployed. No land is being taken after bloody battles, and no flags are flying over hard-fought hills. Instead, this is a war of trademark infringement, of technology and secrets stolen. It’s a cyberwar. It’s an infowar with spin and propaganda.  An economic war. An undeclared conflict where currency and intellectual property are taken instead of land. 

Tanks and planes have been replaced by computers and artificial intelligence. 

The soldiers involved don’t wear uniforms, but are hackers in hoodies or undercover employees and students.

Bombs and munitions have been replaced by viruses – both of the digital and pathogenic variety.

From a domestic market hampered by state interference (interference that favors state-run tech companies over foreigners like Google and Facebook), to a pervasive infiltration of US companies by Chinese citizens more than willing to engage in corporate espionage, the New Art of War paints a stark portrait of a nation more nefarious than friendly.

If you’re not quite sure China has been telling the truth about their experiences with COVID-19, Holstein’s New Art of War will erase all doubt as to their capacity for subterfuge–and their ultimate intentions.

“They Want to Be Superior”

“Some friends came back from Australia and told me about the controversy there about Chinese meddling in Australian politics,” said Holstein, when I asked about his motivation to write the book. “They challenged me to look into it. And sure enough, after researching it, I found that China has for a long time been waging a campaign against the West.”

He added: “I am a patriot, and want to make sure our country knows what China is doing.”

The Chinese have been known to have been stealing intellectual property for years. Why create this alarm now? Why not five or ten years ago? 

“What’s really changed in my lifetime is that you thought the Chinese would be a ‘responsible stakeholder’ on the world stage,” said Holstein. “But this new leader the Chinese have – Xi – has pushed the Chinese to be more daring in the theft of our technology and data. The path of Xi has made it more clear of what the Chinese are trying to do.”

Who is Xi, beyond his official titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, President of the People’s Republic of China, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission?

Said Holstein: “Xi is an old school, purebred Chinese communist who believes the Party should be in the control of the government. Not since Mao Tse Tung have we seen this centralized control. And now China doesn’t just want to be on par with the US, they want to be superior. So that’s what they’re doing while we sit back and are slightly confused.”

William Holstein canoeing on a lake
According to ‘The New Art of War’, this clandestine conflict with China caught America completely unaware.

According to Holstein, there is no separation between government and corporate leadership within Chinese businesses. “Xi has inserted private committees into all these companies, effectively giving the Party control of them.”

There’s a moral fabric lacking here, where this guy thinks it’s okay to steal our intellectual property. Is he a bad guy?

“He has a different value system,” said Holstein. “He’s trying to intimidate other countries, he’s trying to impose and extend his values in how Americans talk about China.” Holstein goes on to describe how their financial interests in the NBA has muted team coaches from speaking out against anything China may be doing of the basketball courts–like human rights abuses, for instance.

“In 1979, it was determined that a relationship with China would be a win-win,” said Holstein. “But only after Xi has come into power, and changed the rules of the game, have things changed. He’s seeking to use the relationships we’ve made and relied on to further his China-centric view.”

Added Holstein: “We did not anticipate this. This is like Sputnik going up. And he has proven to us that he has a deeper, darker undertone to his actions.”

The Problem of Integrated Economies

Since this conflict is short on violence–making it inappropriate for the 82nd Airborne to parachute into Beijing–how best should the US respond? Last year, before COVID-19 became the most pressing issue in the entire world, President Trump had already begun responding in kind by ramping up a trade war with China. Should we get more aggressive with our trade restrictions?

“The problem is that we’ve integrated our economy with China so much,” said Holstein. “American consumers are hooked on goods coming from China. Our companies are hooked on cheaper manufacturing. We are so in bed with China that it’s too hard to ‘decouple’ without affecting us negatively. In some ways, we’ve become dependent on China as a supplier and manufacturer.”

When it comes to the dependency by US companies on Chinese manufacturing and supply chains, would diversifying–maybe by shifting to factories based in Vietnam or Mexico–help curb that reliance?

“The size of the manufacturing platform in China is enormous,” said Holstein. “Any shifting of supply chains to Vietnam and Mexico is relatively in the margins.”

“I’ve talked to some CEOs and they’ve talked of a ‘reshoring’ initiative,” he continued. “But companies can’t find the skillsets. We can’t find enough welders, enough engineers, etc. So there are impediments to us bringing back these jobs… And if you start pulling out of China in too obvious and too robust a way, there will be pain. It’s not an easy situation.”

Did President Trump’s trade war have an impact? Was it a step in the right direction?

“The real problem of China is not the size of the trade deficit. The real problem is that they’ve embraced new technologies, like AIs and drones. They have a massive state-run initiative to leapfrog America technologically and militarily in that regard. Trump hasn’t done anything to address that. That’s the real problem, and it has to be addressed.”

He added, “Look at 5G. If they have communications that powerful and that fast, it means we’ve fallen behind. That has enormous strategic implications. So far, there’s no indication that American businesses have acknowledged that. There needs to be a concerted effort between business and government.”

A Response Wrapped In Chaos

“Many companies have been penetrated by Chinese entities,” said Holstein. “They are inside American systems and have been there for years. Now, many Americans are realizing that the Chinese are in these systems, but unlike the North Koreans, the Chinese are not crashing these systems – they’re just laying low. So American companies are all about making money every quarter and are unconcerned about whatever five-year strategy China has in regards to stealing our intellectual property. Therefore, business and government need to work together to combat this.”

Author William Holstein talking about chaos
According to Holstein, a suitable response to China’s aggression has been problematic.

“The genius of the Chinese strategy is that they constantly shift gears,” he said, and described their phase of acquiring foreign companies, to helping foreign companies grow via venture capitalism, and back again. It’s a smart and fluid strategy that has, over time, yielded fruit in the form of influence and staying on the leading edge of innovation. 

So what is the answer to this clandestine aggression? What should the US do to safeguard itself against the ongoing theft of intellectual property, infiltration by Chinese influencers and an over-reliance on Chinese manufacturing and supply chains? 

The responsibility lies more with US businesses than the federal government. 

Clearly, businesses should be more aware of the problem, and cognizant of the possibility that those Chinese student interns or software engineers might have questionable allegiances. And despite the dependency on China for cheaper goods and services, those manufacturing and supply chains must be diversified, diversified and diversified some more.

Thankfully, it seems the hue and cry that China has been waging this clandestine war has been heard.

The Pushback Against China Has Already Begun

President Trump may have fought back in the form of a trade war, but that isn’t the only means of counterattack available. Inspired by the likelihood that China wasn’t forthcoming in sounding the COVID-19 alarm, legislators and administrators alike have turned to the courts, to immigration, and to the banks to craft a worthy response.

On April 21, 2020, the states of Missouri and Mississippi both filed lawsuits against the People’s Republic of China, the Communist Party of China and numerous other Chinese provincial governments and agencies. The claims:

During the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistleblowers, denied human-to-human transmission in the face of mounting evidence, destroyed critical medical research, permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, and even hoarded personal protective equipment—thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable…  

Additionally, Missouri stated that the “Defendants are responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians, and they should be held accountable.”

During an April 26 interview on CNBC, Senator Thomas Cotton of Arkansas called for the Trump Administration to impose more stringent visa restrictions on Chinese students. His concerns are that the Chinese Communist Party has been stealing US intellectual property–property whose value has increased during the pandemic. Senator Cotton suggested that the threat of sabotage exists for US laboratories developing therapeutic drugs and vaccines.

This coincides with Holstein allegations of Chinese infiltration into our leading universities and research infrastructure, and how it not only affects students but public opinion and study curricula.

Finally, leading Republican legislators–including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham–have called for the Chinese government to pay for the damage the COVID-19 outbreak has caused to the US economy, with tariffs and debt cancellations taking the place of an actual check from the Chinese Communist Party.

The Responsibility of Businesses

The third and final section of the New Art of War lays out Holstein’s recommendations in how best to combat China’s secret war. 

In Chapter 12, “Harden the Targets”, he advocates that “all government agencies involved in major Information Technology upgrades must assume that China’s party-state will attempt to penetrate their new systems.” He also suggests that the US Navy “must move swiftly to eliminate IT vulnerabilities,” and that “key government agencies have to accelerate and improve their understanding of new, emerging technologies so they know what to protect and not to protect.”

But the responsibility does not lie only with the US government. One of the prevailing tenets of Bold Business is that business alone has a far greater ability to enact change than government, with the forces within the free market wielding unconstrained talent and innovation (remember the World War II expression “good enough for government work?”). Ultimately, big business has the power to most effectively fight against subtle Chinese aggression.

“The Chinese goal of getting American technology will not change unless we try to stop it,” said Holstein, and thankfully, more and more businesses are mobilizing. Technology, manufacturing and healthcare companies throughout the US have begun to reassess their China sourcing strategies, diversifying bit by bit.

At the end of the day, though, the most important thing to do… is to do something. Because doing nothing about it has allowed this war to go on unabated, and enabled a major superpower to gain an advantage that a free market would never morally or legally allow.

You can do your part as well.  Read Holstein’s New Art of War. Your views on China and the new war in front of us just might change.

Ed Kopko, CEO and Publisher of Bold Business

      
Edward Kopko
CEO & Publisher
———————
Ed Kopko is BoldBusiness.com’s CEO and Publisher. He has a passion for business, economics and media. A serial entrepreneur, Ed has launched Bold Business to help broadcast the great accomplishments that come from business and entrepreneurial activity. He believes the very real and amazing Bold Impacts that these activities have created also make a micro economic case for trade and commerce. Ed’s previous media experience was as CEO, Publisher and Owner of Chief Executive Magazine and its related media activities. He has been published in many media venues including the Wall St. Journal, Detroit Free Press and Forbes.com. He has also been a sought after commentator and appeared numerous times on CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News and other media outlets.

Ed’s book, Project Bold Life: The Proven Formula for Taking on Challenges and Achieving Happiness and Success, is due out later this year. For more information, check out his site.

Tech vs. COVID-19: Political Campaigns Go Digital

Since mid-March, opportunities for face-to-face meetings and handshakes have been limited. Social distancing and lockdown mandates forced cities across the country to adopt an entirely new way of life. Virtual platforms received a boost as more and more people work from home and connect with friends remotely. Streaming services also saw tremendous traffic with outdoor entertainment venues being cancelled left and right. In so many ways, technology had to step up and fill a void, and its role in political campaigns has been no different.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many of the ways that political campaigns would normally be conducted. Door-to-door canvasing is frowned upon given the risk for spreading COVID-19. Grassroots appearances at community events have similarly been affected. And given that it’s a presidential election year, large rallies have been put on hold. Like many other activities, traditional strategies have had to adapt. But can digital politics be as effective in helping candidates get elected? And if so, which virtual strategies are best for political campaigns? These are questions that have yet to be fully answered.

“Given the current dynamic, there are a lot of things up in the air. Maybe [digital politics] works, maybe it doesn’t. But you have to be creative as you try to address the issue of how are you going to go about reaching voters.” – David Winston, Republican strategist for the Winston Group

Virtual Political Campaigns to Mobilize Support

For all political campaigns, it is important to mobilize support to facilitate momentum. For incumbents and well-known candidates, digital politics can be quite powerful. In fact, candidates running for an election who have large social media followings can do quite well with digital politics. In such instances, candidates can continue to connect with current supporters in a daily basis. This allows them not only an opportunity to push their message forward but also more fully saturate their media feeds. In contrast, newcomers to the technology game often struggle to get traction. Given the sudden competition within digital politics with the pandemic, gaining a following can be difficult.

A bunch of politicians having some sort of committee
When coronavirus shuts down political campaigns, it’s time to go digital!

Digital politics also helps candidates mobilize support in another way. In addition to reaching their base, politicians are also able to better connect with staff and volunteers. In fact, digital politics utilizes videoconferencing and online content to help train political campaign personnel on new strategies. Many of these strategies replace door-to-door canvasing with emails, texts, and even phone calls. But likewise, digital politics takes advantage of online forums, social media feeds, and digital ads. Understanding that in-person training sessions are no longer possible, political campaigns must adapt. Thus, virtual platforms are being increasingly used to connect with and train existing candidate supports.

“If you have a campaign that’s already leaning heavily on media for messaging and voter contact, this might not be a terrible situation. But if you have a more grassroots campaign where you really are relying on field operations to get people out and to get the candidate into the community, it’s a lot tougher.” – Elizabeth Spiers, Political Consultant at The Insurrection

Fundraising with Digital Politics

Not only has the coronavirus pandemic altered political campaigns in public outreach. It has also affecting fundraising efforts as well. Expensive, per-plate fundraisers at major galas are no longer possible. Thus, candidates are having to use technologies in an effort to obtain donations and funding in other ways. Interestingly, these same types of venues are now being used in virtual space. For example, both Biden and Trump have been holding virtual fundraisers amidst current social distancing restrictions. Likewise, social media ads asking for financial contributions are also now common. Even Zoom happy hours for donors are being trialed in this regard.

While these technology trends can help larger congressional and presidential candidates, they might be more challenging for others. Local and state politicians may try the same digital politics and techniques to raise funds. However, at a time when economic concerns are far-reaching, it is unclear whether these types of efforts are productive. Regardless, options are limited for the moment. Thus, virtual fireside chats for paid logins as well as donation requests via Facebook and Twitter may be the best bet. Whether these are as convincing as in-person appearances in raising actual dollars remain to be seen.

“[Digital politics] can be much more carefully targeted. It is often considerably cheaper. It can be very interactive. It can be very immediate. You can respond to something in real time.” – Kevin Wagner, a political scientist at Florida International University

Digital Politics for Winning Votes

In addition to maintaining support and raising funds, political campaigns are also turning to digital politics for recruit votes. Unlike existing supporters, swing voters and others are less likely to tune into virtual streams organized by specific candidates. Therefore, political strategists suggest that social media, texts, and emails may offer better bang for the buck. Live Facebook streams and Twitter townhalls may also be effective if sponsored by reputable media sites not blatantly partisan. And traditional advertising, mainstream media debates, and broadcast speeches will continue to persist unaffected by the pandemic.

In this regard, digital politics has already made an impression on political campaigning. Thus, these political strategies will need to be tweaked only slightly. But what is more noteworthy is how the pandemic could affect voter turnout at the polls. Debates exist as to whether online remote voting should be allowed. And questions about voter system preparedness among states and communities would have to be addressed. Given that reduced voter turnout could impact specific political groups and candidates more that others, this is an important issue. For this reason, many believe voter technology solutions in light of the pandemic is essential.

New Territories for Political Campaigns

No one expected a pandemic to affect global populations in 2020. Certainly, political candidates preparing for an upcoming election didn’t. But like many others, organizations are adapting with new strategies, and technology solutions are leading the way. Without question, virtual and digital politics has hit the big time, and all political campaigns are exploring their options. But so many unknowns exist when comparing digital politics to traditional campaign approaches. It will be an interesting year in terms of politics as a result. One thing is for sure, however. Digital politics is here to stay, and we’ll know which strategies work best once the 2020 election dust settles.

Tech vs. COVID-19: Welcome to the Age of Digital Jurisprudence

The threats imposed by the coronavirus pandemic have been far-reaching. Several vulnerable groups have been recognized, and many businesses and organizations have had to make some changes. As a result of social distancing and lockdowns, schools, businesses, and even social events have embraced videoconferencing and remote interactions. But you may not appreciate that judicial systems have done the same. Throughout the country, a virtual courtroom is now the norm.

In order to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread, local, state, and federal judicial systems now operate a digital court. In fact, this week the U.S. Supreme Court began using a digital court platform to hear cases. In some ways, a virtual court has some notable advantages in addition to its primary purpose of minimize COVID-19 transmission. But at the same time, some difficulties have been experienced in addition to some legal challenges. While technology has clearly come to the rescue, it will be interesting to see how this plays out over time.

“Building on this [virtual court] framework, we can now begin to focus on the rest of our caseload, enabling judges and non-judicial employees across the state, who are anxious to get back to work and do their part, to be active and serve the public in this time of great need” – Janet DiFiore, Chief Justice in New York state

The Evolving Digital Court Setting

For most judicial systems, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in serious reductions in dockets as of mid-March. At that point, only essential and emergent cases that had to be heard were considered for judicial rulings. However, this quickly changed with virtual court hearings arranged for much of the process. Judges, attorneys, court reporters, and translators were connected by videoconferencing. Likewise, defendants would either appear at these hearings through closed circuit television at the courthouse. In the first several weeks, virtual court hearings were mainly used for non-essential proceedings.

A legal type working on their iPad
Pandemic lockdowns? Thanks to virtual courts, that’s no problem!

However, in the last few weeks, courts have begun using these same digital court procedures for essential cases. Civil, criminal and emergent hearings are not being heard via virtual court sessions in many states. Most courtrooms are using videoconferencing apps like Zoom. Likewise, some are providing video access to proceedings over YouTube so that criminal cases meet requirements to be heard publicly. The U.S. Supreme Court jumped on board this week as well. Justices are hearing and discussing cases via teleconferencing, and live audio feeds are being provided to the public. It would thus appear that digital courts are now in session for all types of judicial cases.

“I don’t think it’s anywhere near perfect. They’ve made as many accommodations as they practically can.” – Amy Thompson, Deputy of Central Operations, Cook County Public Defender’s Office

Virtual Court Hearings Not Without Challenges

As you might imagine, the shift from a regular courtroom to a digital court setting posed some difficulties. Like many businesses making such shifts, audio and video technical problems often surface. This naturally causes delays that make virtual court hearings longer than they need to be. However, at the same time, a digital court platform works more effectively on schedule. Rather than defendants and attorneys having to wait hours, digital court hearings tend to be more punctual. Though the caseload is reduced, this represents one of the perks of this new approach.

Other challenges involve a lack of access to needed technologies. Some individuals do not have smartphones or computers needed to engage in videoconferencing. In these instances, they may choose to dial in by phone, depending on the circumstances. However, phone interfaces that connect with video feeds are notorious for having problems. In many cases, individuals must still appear in court, which partially defeats the purpose of virtual court. Courts have worked around this by having specific rooms designated for videoconference participation. However, many find these solutions, as well as digital courts in general, less than ideal.

“[A video hearing] does not perfectly translate to our business. When your freedom is at stake, you’re allowed to be present in court.” – David Gaeger, Criminal Defense Attorney, Chicago

Legal Issues with Digital Court Platforms

Naturally, the decision to pursue a digital court platform emerged out of concerns for people’s health and safety. The coronavirus pandemic has forced its evolution at a rapid pace. However, this is not the first time a virtual court has been attempted. In New York, virtual court hearings appeared in 1999 for some specific legal proceedings. After a lawsuit was filed subsequently however, the state abandoned these formats. The lawsuit claimed that a digital court platform violated individuals’ Constitutional rights of due process. Though the case was never heard, such issues still need to be addressed.

Other legal issues exist for digital court proceedings as well. For example, the inability for judges to see family members at bind hearings could affect rulings. The presence of family members often show support that influence bond issuances and amount determinations. In other instances, there is a lack of public access to the legal proceedings. In some types of cases, particularly criminal ones, this also violates individual rights. Lastly, some believe it should be an inherent right for the accused to see the judge and their accusers face to face. These types of legal issues have been placed on the backburner for now. But without question, these will have to be addressed if virtual courts continue.

A Necessary Solution Amidst a Pandemic

With caseloads backing up with coronavirus restrictions, solutions were desperately needed. From this perspective, technology has enabled judicial systems to get back on track with new forms of digital justice. Though both technical and legal issues remain, none are so overwhelming that remedies cannot be devised. Likewise, it is notable that these new digital court platforms do offer some advantages in efficiency and resource use. Therefore, it is quite probable virtual court hearings will persist well after the COVID-19 pandemic resolves. The good outweighs the bad, and therefore, everyone has an incentive to continue to improve this new approach to jurisprudence.