How China Expropriates American Freedom to Flourish

in #chinalast year


For a nation to become powerful enough to withstand threats and ensure its survival, it needs the most advanced technology to defend itself from enemies both internal and external. To create the most cutting-edge technology, a nation needs the most creative engineers, artists, and thinkers in general. To get the most creative people, a nation needs to give people the freedom to explore ideas and new possibilities, try different things and fail often, in order for those rare successful innovations to succeed. But with that freedom in society comes chaos and disorder, amid many other problems that can weaken the nation and make it unstable, vulnerable to external (and internal) threats, and potentially lead to its downfall.

Therefore the problem facing every nation is how to balance the societal freedom necessary for creativity and the innovations that will make it the most technologically advanced nation, without succumbing to the pitfalls of freedom and becoming too chaotic and disordered. The United States and China are two nations struggling with that very question right now. The US has been the most powerful nation in the world for the past century because it had the most advanced technology. They developed that technology because the US was the freest nation. Its people had the freedom to try different things, innovate, and fail. This freedom and creativity led to the atomic bomb, computers, the internet, and essentially all of Silicon Valley. But now China is rising as a technological world power, yet they do not have a free society. How have they managed this?

What China has done is found a way around the problem of freedom/creativity/technology vs. chaos/disorder/downfall. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) severely restricts the freedom of their people to create a stable and ordered society, but they still get the best of both worlds by taking the technology created in free nations like the US and simply copying it for themselves. The CCP gives their people just enough freedom to duplicate and mass-produce the technological ideas from freer nations, but not enough freedom that their own people will create new technologies themselves—because they don't need to. China gets the benefits of freedom without any of the downfalls of disorder by outsourcing their creativity to America. The CCP can afford to have a firewall to prevent their people from having access to the free internet and open information, while simultaneously cherry-picking all the successful creative ideas and technologies that come from freedom in other nations.

This plan is working quite well for China as they are approaching the United States in world power and influence. As a result, some in the US government think America needs to become more like China to compete—that is the US needs to restrict the freedom of Americans and become more communist to create a stable advanced society like China's. However, that will backfire and allow China to become even more powerful. It is only the freedom in the US that gives the US its advantage, to stay a step ahead of China in technology. Unlike the US, China does not need to produce new technological innovations—they just need to wait until a new technology created by others is successful, then copy it.

If the US tries to emulate China's success by becoming more communist and restricting its citizens' freedom, the US will fail to innovate technology in the future. Then there won't be a more advanced nation that China needs to compete with and copy. The CCP will just need to maintain their current technology to secure their power. If another free nation comes along, then China can simply steal its new tech from them. Likewise, the US doesn't need to be a libertarian paradise to become the most technologically advanced nation; it merely needs to be slightly more free than every other nation in the world. As such, the US government has continually restricted its citizens freedoms over the decades. But there will be a turning point when the US goes too far and will need to restore more freedom to its citizens or risk being dominated by a more technologically advanced world power.

China's tactics are not necessarily evil—it makes complete strategic sense for them. If they did not copy American technology, they would be overtaken by the US. Although I would prefer to live in a free society, not all people would. At least some Chinese citizens must enjoy their lifestyle and approve of the CCP. I see no reason why China's plan won't last forever, as long as some free society exists to provide creative ideas and new technologies that they can copy.

Contrary to anti-Chinese conspiracy theories, it is not in the CCP's interest to turn the United States into a communist nation. The CCP is likely ambivalent on that front. Whether the US is free/capitalist or authoritarian/communist doesn't matter to China. If it is the former, China will just copy US tech, and if it is the latter, then the US will become too weak for China to have to worry about. All China really wants is for the US to stay out of Asia, both on the internet and in the real world, so we do not weaken their power or compromise the order they have created in Chinese society. Technological innovations are only useful to the CCP as a means to protect their sovereignty. For China, innovation is not a useful end in itself. However, innovation (and therefore freedom) is essential for a country like the United States to not be overtaken by a country like China (or Russia).