Rod Serling must have written that scene, the congressman thought.
He and an assistant were sitting in the rooftop suite of a downtown hotel, which was in very poor condition. Worn out early ’60s decor only added to the feeling of life inside a “Twilight Zone” episode, made worse outside by the monsoon conditions of an afternoon from mid-August.
The threatening storm clouds looked more like Miami than Phoenix, but the changing hues at altitude put an end to any notion that it was happening in black and white.
Seated across the room were visitors from the East – from the Far East – although the delegation came to Arizona from the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles.
Apparently it was a “get to know” exercise, but the congressman understood that the visitors had come as part of a “charm offensive” by the Chinese.
Unfortunately, for his foreign visitors, the congressman saw nothing charming in the Chinese presentation. While he was inclined to give them “an A for effort,” even their hospitality intent was awkward. Rather than calling room service and pre-arranging drink service for all attendees, a junior member of the delegation rushed to brew coffee in the small machine provided by the hotel. in the following.
The young diplomat’s hasty decision to pour the hot drink into highball glasses only added to the unsuitable atmosphere of the meeting. So, with hot, steaming coffee served in glasses better suited to happy hour, the senior Chinese official began his cheerful speech.
“China desires friendship with the United States,” the consular officer said. “And there is no better way to foster the friendship between our two nations than to build on the trade policy already in place. If the United States Congress extends “normal commercial relations” with our nation, it will contribute to the prosperity and security of both our peoples. »
The congressman offered a response that was phrased in diplomatic niceties, but spelled out his concerns clearly: “Welcome to Arizona; you honor us with your visit. Thank you also for having expressed your desire for friendship between our nations. In this spirit, let us speak frankly, as friends. Despite your kind words, it is very difficult to reconcile these comments with some disturbing remarks made recently by one of your senior officers. Specifically, it was Lt. Gen. Xiong Guangkai who said of our nation and our people, “…you care much more about Los Angeles than you care about Taipei. How to interpret this, if not as a direct threat?
The top Chinese diplomat had an immediate response: “Member of Congress, perhaps you have already been misquoted in the press? I believe that was the case with General Xiong in this case.
“Furthermore,” he continued, “because our headquarters are in Los Angeles, I can assure you that my colleagues and I have a considerable personal interest in this great city!”
Despite the diplomat’s efforts to distract with humor, the conversation did nothing to change the congressman’s mind. When the issue of extending “normal trade relations” with Communist China was put to the full House, he voted no.
Fast forward through two decades and five occupants of the White House. The congressman is now a columnist, but serious questions remain about US-China relations.
Of the five men who held the Oval Office during those years, only Donald Trump remained skeptical about trade with China. The other four were pro-China business, including one, Bill Clinton, who was “evolving.”
Governor Clinton campaigned as an opponent of China trade, only to change his mind as president, and campaign finance records explain why.
Chinese citizens’ financial contributions to the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996 prompted changes to US campaign finance law, but had no legal consequences for President Clinton.
Undaunted, the Chinese changed their strategy. Instead of presidential campaigns, they focused on “principalities”, the children of prominent politicians. Most notably, Hunter Biden, who has been involved in questionable business dealings with Chinese entities.
Something must have upset Hunter’s father, the current Commander-in-Chief. On a recent trip overseas to visit Asian allies, there was no stop in Taiwan, but Joe Biden halted the traveling White House press corps when he said that the United States would intervene militarily if the Chinese attacked Taiwan. White House staffers immediately “backed off” his comments, but Ol’ Joe had taken the “strategic ambiguity” to higher levels of contradiction and confusion.
Or could it be that the elder Biden was playing his own “deflection game,” aware of suspicions he might be a target of blackmail?
Meanwhile, press reports indicate that China may soon act militarily against Taiwan – just as Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year. Two communist nuclear powers go to war against their neighbors in 2022? What could happen next?
It sounds like the plot of a 1962 “Twilight Zone” episode – or maybe, if the miscalculations continue, like “Twilight’s Last Gleaming.”
JD Hayworth represented Arizona in the United States House from 1995 to 2007. He drafted and sponsored the Enforcement First Act, legislation that would have mandated federal immigration enforcement in the 109th Congress.