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  • Writer's pictureXiaodong Fang

How should the China issues be updated in the 2020 Republican Party platform

Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has chosen Jacksonville, Florida, to host part of this summer's party convention. The RNC moved to not make changes to the GOP’s platform from the 2016 convention, but President Trump tweeted that he prefers a new and updated Platform. As Republican Party officials and Trump campaign aides prepare for trimming the 58-page document, I offer the following suggestions for updating the platform regarding China.

City of Jacksonville, FL. Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash

A general guideline: value-based and practical approaches to defeat China's authoritarian government

As the Republican administration always champions the open and free society based on principles of freedom and universal values, it should continue pursuing effective policies to empower the U.S., protect the democratic allies, and defeat the authoritarian government of China that has become increasingly threatening to the free world.

China was mentioned 21 times in the 58-page Republican Party platform of 2016. Of the 14 times China was singled out, the platform addressed the issues of trade, intellectual property, energy, South China Sea, Taiwan, Maoism, human rights, religious freedom, cybersecurity, and Internet freedom. Though the Trump administration has made progress in many of the aspects regarding China, it is necessary to update the platform with some new policy agenda to deal with the escalating threats imposed by China.

Things to update:

1. COVID-19

The Chinese government covered up the information about the outbreak of COVID-19 in the early stage, and then tighten its social control by enhanced data-tracking and pervasive surveillance. Speeches on the coronavirus remain censored and punitive in China. Chinese officials even pushed conspiracies that falsely claimed the U.S. as the origin of the coronavirus. China's delayed responses and consequent "overactions" about COVID-19 have led to the deaths of about 500,000 so far, and severely disrupted the daily lives of millions of people throughout the world.

As leading GOPs are demanding China to pay for the disaster of COVID-19, the 2020 version of Republican Party platform should correspondingly set the relevant policy agenda that would punish China's mishandling of COVID-19 and seek far-reaching sanctions on the Chinese authorities.

2. Hong Kong

The pro-democracy protests have rocked Hong Kong for years and the current situation shows no sign of dying down. As Hong Kong protests continue, Beijing's response is ominous. It continues supporting the Hong Kong police's brutality against peaceful protestors, arresting activists and citizens who support the pro-democracy claims, pushing for tougher national security laws, and ignoring the global condemnation of the unlawful use of violence.

Throughout the 2016 version of Republican Party platform, Hong Kong was only mentioned once ("the promised autonomy of Hong Kong is eroded"). A new approach that would support the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and inspire the democratization of the mainland China must be proposed in the 2020 version of the platform.

3. Taiwan

In the past three years, China has meddled Taiwan's election by spreading disinformation to support pro-China candidates and fabricating false rumors to attack President Tsai Ing-wen, her administration, and the Democratic Progressive Party. This brief from The Council on Foreign Relations specifies how China is interfering in Taiwan’s election.

The 2016 Republican Party platform mentioned Taiwan 9 times, all under the "U.S. Leadership in the Asian Pacific" section. It highlighted the U.S. bilateral relation with Taiwan that insisted on the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, and affirmed the Six Assurances given to Taiwan in 1982 by President Reagan, but did not cover China's interference in Taiwan's election. The new version should include some policies to prevent China from taking more aggressive unilateral steps across the Taiwan Straits and help the Taiwan democracy defend itself.

4. Internet freedom

China's crackdown on Internet freedom has gone beyond its boundary. Not only did the Chinese authorities jail journalists and netizens who criticized the Communist regime or revealed the truth about the government's wrongdoings, but it also made efforts to impose speech controls on international companies and their workers, and even crackdown unwanted foreign criticism in the free world.

Under the "Confronting Internet Tyranny" section, the 2016 Republican Party platform mentioned that "it is also an important economic interest, as censorship constitutes a trade barrier for U.S. companies operating in societies like China with advanced firewall protection policies." Now it's time to expand the battle ground and practice and protection of Internet freedom beyond China's country borders.

5. Human rights

The current platform mentioned China's human rights abuses, including "dissent brutally crushed, religious persecution heightened, the internet crippled, a barbaric population control two-child policy of forced abortions and forced sterilizations continued, and the cult of Mao revived."

However, some recentish issues regarding China's human rights violation need immediate attention. A prominent one is the Xinjiang re-education camps. As more than a million Muslims have been arbitrarily detained in China's Xinjiang Province, effective policy approaches must be proposed to persuade or coerce the Chinese government to abandon the notorious “political educationcamps.

Another issue that requires attention is that China has utilized high-tech to strengthen its authoritarian control by imposing mandatory facial recognition for all mobile phone users in China. Such measure was described by advocates as another step toward dystopian surveillance state, in which citizens are constantly monitored for signs of unrest or dissent.

To reverse the course of China's human rights violation and protect the universal values, the Republican Party platform should include some policies such as sanctions on the companies who facilitate China's development on malicious technology and on the governmental officials who were involved in the human rights abuses.


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