Columns

Government Must Guard Against Tax Dollars Making Their Way to Communist China

AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File

When it comes to the heap of threats to American national security today, China sits securely and arrogantly at the top. The Chinese communist regime has become increasingly belligerent towards the Republic of China on Taiwan while stifling dissent in Hong Kong in an increasingly dramatic fashion. They have ridiculed the United States while doing things like funneling cash to purchase American infrastructure and apparently even creeping into taxpayer-funded education contracts.

Perhaps the most insidious example is the federal money about to flow to Chinese interests in the name of climate change. The Heritage Foundation argued in a recent report that Green New Deal-inspired proposals within the so-called “Build Back Better” plan being promoted by President Biden would further the Chinese cause of weakening the American private sector.

Heritage notes that “[e]verything about the deal screams advantage China. America will lose its energy independence. Increasingly, Americans will be forced to buy [less efficient] green energy technologies manufactured in, wait for it, China. And, even as these provisions hamstring our economy, China will continue to grow as the world’s most prolific polluter.” It is ironic that China, the world’s greatest polluter, would profit from manufacturing the parts for electric vehicles (EVs) and solar panels subsidized by the American taxpayer while carelessly continuing to pollute the atmosphere, all in the name of a wild-eyed desire to bring a Green New Deal to life, no?

The Chinese government has been executing a comprehensive strategy to target our federal and state funds to pay for their products and services. Chinese interests have taken advantage of the lack of American and European investment in the wake of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic to purchase critical infrastructure, as mentioned above. Kenneth Raposa of Forbes reported on April 18, 2020, “watch out for Chinese companies swooping in with buckets of cash to buy strategic stakes or majority control in U.S. and European companies as asset prices fall due to the pandemic.” That was over a year ago and Raposa’s reporting has proven to be prophetic. Asset prices did indeed fall during the pandemic and the Chinese did indeed take advantage of the crisis.

Related: Is China’s Test of a Hypersonic Missile Another ‘Sputnik Moment’?

Another case study in how the Chinese are managing to get their hands on our tax dollars revolves around online educational resources that have boomed during the COVID pandemic. One company called BookNook recently became an approved vendor in Texas to help with tutoring and curriculum development. BookNook has a good reputation, and they are always looking for ways to help employ more teachers to help with online learning. The company this month announced that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) had selected them “as an official K–8 reading curriculum provider to deliver high-impact literacy tutoring to Texas students.” The company has created a popular curriculum and educational tools to help with online learning in an age when it has suddenly expanded exponentially. All good on the surface.

But there may be a problem. BookNook has partnered with a Beijing-headquartered company called VIPKid International, Inc. VIPKid is tied to the Chinese government through its parent holding company, Tencent.  BookNook advertises a partnership with VIPKid on their website, marketing them as “a global online education leader with a pool of approximately 100,000 online teachers.” Something doesn’t smell right about VIPKid.  The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that “VIPKid, one of China’s most valuable online education startups, has put hundreds of its mostly American teachers on notice for using certain maps in their classes with Chinese students, and has severed two teachers’ contracts for discussing Taiwan and Tiananmen Square in ways at odds with Chinese government preferences, people familiar with the company say.”  Were I BookNook, I’d rethink this partnership, stat. Additional red flags (no pun intended) have been raised about VIPKid, but you get the gist and I don’t have the space.

These are just a few examples worth pondering. I for one would like to know: Is our government even paying attention? Are we vetting anything anymore? Should taxpayer dollars be finding their way to foreign businesses with ties to hostile governments? It’s a universal truth that we are already very much at war with China economically. It is essential that we defend ourselves against not just what could happen on the military front, but what is happening and has been happening for quite some time on the economic one.