As we see the Chinese undermining democratic values, such as free speech, we also have to observe that the Chinese are busy, not only lobbying, but using constant propaganda, censorship in academia, spying on American institutions, and using the Chinese Students and Scholars Association to glean secrets and techniques which are useful to the Chinese economy and military. They are also attempting to influence think-tanks and have stolen technology using the “Thousand Talents “program, which involves recruiting over 300 experts and researchers and paying for secrets (why the 300 are not arrested baffles me).
Leading Americans who have, over the year, been strong advocates of engagement with China are now increasingly disillusioned now that China is assuming such a figure on the world stage. Xi Jinping has increased repression at home and is becoming increasingly assertive abroad. Now China has joined Russia as being America’s main strategic threat. Pence has called the Chinese approach a “whole of government” approach, which is more alarming than interfering in elections (something they might or might not be doing). Now maybe the Justice department will insist that these Chinese agents are registered with under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The danger is that the US over-reacts and makes things even worse. As it is the emphasis of the Trump Administration has been the trade deficit and the current tariff/trade war, which could easily become a case of shooting yourself in both feet. But at least Administration is now awake to the threat.