“We will be forced to review our relationship.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed this intimidating statement to Donald Trump, who called COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.” The President of the United States, leader of the greatest economic and military power in history, felt the need to surrender and stop using the “Chinese” adjective. Just before, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, also guilty for having said that the coronavirus originated in China, had bowed to Beijing as well. He could not afford to lose the Chinese market. For the same reason, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez blocked an investigation into secret agreements with China signed by the previous administration. The list could go on.
And one can forget about Europe’s weak rulers. They do not even dare to raise the issue.
By brandishing its economic supremacy with surreal arrogance, China is rewriting history. With blackmail and propaganda, it has managed to go from criminal to hero in just a few weeks. According to many experts, the coronavirus pandemic originated in China and spread thanks to the negligence and chutzpa of Beijing’s communist government. Yet, today China presents itself as a model, a Good Samaritan even, imposing its policy on a sad and subjugated West.
One of the great enigmas of our time—a real mystery of iniquity—is how the West, proud of its democratic and liberal philosophy, submitted so quickly to a dictatorial, communist government. How the tycoons of industry and finance, who bragged of creating history’s richest civilization, allowed that wealth—therefore, power—to slip through their fingers and into the hands of an enemy. For short-term profits, the West consciously and voluntarily put its head in the guillotine. Why should it surprise if the executioner chops it off?
A Prophetic Voice
Yet this situation was entirely predictable and, therefore, avoidable. It is a consequence of the West’s blind and suicidal policy toward Chinese communism, against which Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira raised his voice already in the thirties.
As far back as 1937, the Catholic leader denounced how the United States was arming Chinese and Soviet communists: “The State Department has announced that licenses to export arms and equipment to China in November reached a total of $1,702,970. Also, for the Soviet Union, export licenses for war materiel reached $805,612…. We do not understand how the United States sells weapons to the communists, the most dangerous and abominable enemy of civilization.”1
In 1943, when the defeat of Nazism was only a matter of time, Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira foresaw the next enemies: communism and Islam. His prophetic foresight, however, went even further: “The Muslim danger is immense. The West seems to close its eyes to it, just as it keeps them half-shut to the immense danger of yellow paganism.”2
After the war, the West continued to ignore this danger, allowing communists to take control of China. Two factions contended for that immense territory: The Kuomintang, of nationalist orientation, led by Chiang Kai-shek, and the Chinese Communist Party, led by Mao Zedong. The Soviet Union supported the latter.
In 1945, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira denounced Soviet interference in China: “If there were any doubts about the Soviet Union’s insincerity, just look at what happens in China. Despite the commitments made in the peace treaty it signed with Chiang Kai-shek, Russia has reignited the civil war in China…. We must stress the international gravity of this aggression…. This attitude on the part of communist Russia is a new shock to the pacification of the world. We cannot fail to note how much the Chinese Communist Party is a toy of Russian imperialism, which brazenly uses it to achieve its international goals.”3
According to Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, the only coherent policy would have been to defeat the communists straightaway. Instead, in order not to annoy the Soviet Union, the United States adopted an approach that would later prove disastrous: “American policy in China aims to force unification through a democratic coalition government between Kuomintang and the communists. But there can never be a real coalition between the Kuomintang and the communists. The communists’ goal is not to make China a unified democratic nation but a province under the yoke of communist totalitarianism. Therefore, it is necessary to help Chiang extend the sovereignty of the central government over the whole of China, which can only be done by destroying the rebel communist government and liquidating its power, army, police, political administration, and financial system.”4
With the support of the Soviets, who also occupied Manchuria, in 1949, Mao Zedong defeated Chiang Kai-shek and established the People’s Republic of China, and began to expand toward Tibet and Southeast Asia. In the meantime, showing a foolish lack of foresight, the West left North Korea in the hands of communists, a move that had catastrophic consequences. In mid-June 1950, supported by China and the Soviet Union, the North Korean communists invaded, crossing the 38th Parallel, starting the Korean War. General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the Allied forces, understood that the war was being played out not from Pyongyang but Beijing and Moscow, and proposed a full-scale conflict against the communists that included striking communist bases in China. He was summarily dismissed by President Truman, who instead chose to compromise.
In a lengthy article published in January 1951, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira listed “Roosevelt’s mistakes in the Second World War”: “In the face of communist expansionism, the State Department, instead of vigorously resisting it, indirectly favored it with a submissive attitude…. In Asia, things got worse. President Truman decided to continue the policy of trusting Chinese communism, as his predecessor had done…. With these concessions, the Far East’s fate was now sealed.”5
In the sixties, the Soviet Union and China feigned a breakdown in their relations to dupe the West. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira never believed in that deceitful maneuver. In 1963, he wrote: “It is nothing but a trap that will end up by swallowing up a foolish, smiling, superficial, agitated and weak Western man living in a world of appearances…. The communists will greatly appreciate this extraordinary recklessness of Westerners.”6 And, in 1967, he wrote further: “The split between the ‘Russian line’ and the ‘Chinese line’ is nothing but a bluff.”7 Deaf to such warnings, the West continued its blind and suicidal policy of favoring China to oppose the Soviets.
“The Week That Changed the World”
From one concession to another, the West came to the decisive one: President Nixon’s trip to China in February 1972. The Brazilian Catholic thinker gave it epochal importance. The trip’s pretext was to acquire a dominant position in China to counterbalance the Soviet Union. Instead, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira considered it the beginning of the final demise. Nixon himself called his trip “the week that changed the world.”
Upon hearing the news of the planned trip, the Brazilian Catholic leader analyzed its scope in a July 17, 1971 meeting, and predicted its consequences with surprising foresight:
This trip will substantially change Western public opinion’s perception of communist China, presenting it in a friendlier light. The “ideological barriers to Chinese communism will fall.”
China will be admitted to the United Nations, ousting Taiwan, and will be given permanent member status in the Security Council, assuming the role of world power.
“The United States is ending its involvement in the Vietnam War in a spirit of surrender and betrayal. With Nixon’s trip to China, the United States has accepted an enormous humiliation that suggests a defeat will ensue in Vietnam as well. In my opinion, the war will end with an unconditional American surrender.”
“The anti-communist powers of the Far East will be left to their fate…. Nixon seems intent on inexorably dismantling the anti-communist system in the Far East…. That will force the countries of the area to rely on Beijing rather than Washington.”
“Hong Kong will enter into agony. I believe that the United Kingdom will soon reopen relations with Beijing and hand over Hong Kong to the Chinese.”
Finally, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira asked: “What military guarantees does this [secret] agreement provide to the United States that Chinese expansion will not continue?”8 He believed that once it had begun, it would never stop. Especially since the United States had not set any political or military conditions.
During President Nixon’s trip, the United States issued with China the Shanghai Communiqué (on cooperation between the two countries). On March 12, 1972 Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira wrote in the Folha de S. Paulo: “Given the Americans’ easy-going naivete and the cunning of the Chinese communists, the agreement will highly benefit the communists, who will take advantage of every opportunity to advance their ideology.”9 Already in a March 4, 1972 meeting entirely dedicated to the Communiqué, he had concluded: “From now on, relations between China and the West will take place on this basis: The Chinese will be able to take advantage of the West, while the Westerners will not.”10
The Brazilian leader believed the Shanghai Communiqué was the greatest political catastrophe of the twentieth century: “Yalta was a calamity greater than Munich. Yalta was Munich multiplied by Munich. The Shanghai Communiqué is Yalta multiplied by Yalta! Where will it take us?”11 “What is the position of the West vis-à-vis the East in the wake of Nixon’s trip to China and the publication of the Shanghai Communiqué? It is that of a country that has lost the war without fighting a single battle. The only thing that has not yet happened is the crossing of its borders by enemy troops [to take possession].”12
Note that appeasement was the American government’s line, and, more concretely, that of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. In the general public, however, there were strong reactions, and Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira devoted some lectures and newspaper articles to them.
After Mao Zedong died in 1976, Deng Xiaoping took over and started the so-called Beijing Spring, a first timid opening of the Chinese system to capitalism without ever denying communist ideology—all in the spirit of the Shanghai Communiqué. As a consequence, the West began to invest in China. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira warned that the flow of Western aid would provide China with the means to pursue its expansionist goals: “Can China aspire to control the region to expand [its domination] later? It does not lack a large territory, an overabundant population, and a desire for conquest. However, to carry out that great effort, it will need considerable industrial and military might, which communism has not given it…. Communist China will only be able to develop and achieve imperialist superpower status with the help of capitalist nations.”13
A Project of Imperial Domination
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira died in 1995 and thus did not see the entire fulfillment of his predictions. Today we can say with regret: All that he foresaw has, unfortunately, come true in the worst possible way.
In 1980, China’s per capita income was lower than that of the poorest African nations. Today, China produces 50% of the world’s industrial goods. All this, once again, with Western money and know-how imprudently transferred to China following the illogical ‘logic’ of ‘wild capitalism’ and globalization. While Westerners filled China with money and technology, the Chinese unscrupulously followed what a Western analyst dubbed a “Bismarckian policy,” that is, a well-defined project of imperial domination.
Michael Pillsbury, a leading American expert on China, aptly examines this project in his book, The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower. He shows how the American policy of providing China with money and technology (even military) in the naive hope of turning it into a reliable partner has had a boomerang effect. The Chinese have played the game with ulterior motives all along, taking advantage of western naivete to acquire a dominant position. Today, they begin to wield it as a weapon of global domination.
British journalist Martin Jacques also wrote an interesting book, When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order. Based on market studies, geopolitical projections, and historical analyses, he shows how, if the current trend continues, China will be the hegemonic power in the 21st century, downgrading the United States and introducing a “new modernity” different from the current one. According to Jacques, China is not a nation-state but a civilization-state with an imperial vocation, accustomed to exercising undisputed power.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, seems to have changed the cards.
China’s responsibilities in the pandemic now gripping the world are increasingly evident. The only ones denying it are the Chinese communists, who also threaten with hefty punishment those who dare to affirm the obvious. As Beijing’s arrogance reaches surreal levels, the West is beginning to wonder if it has not gone down the wrong path. “China infects us, buys us, and we thank her,” is how political philosopher Massimo Cacciari summarized the situation. An international movement is also growing to demand a “Nuremberg Trial” to ascertain Chinese communist responsibility and possibly demand compensation.
In this sense, recent statements by Charles Cardinal Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, capital of Myanmar, are unequivocal.
“[T]here is one government that has primary responsibility, as a result of what it has done and what it has failed to do, and that is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime in Beijing. Let me be clear – it is the CCP that has been responsible, not the people of China, and no one should respond to this crisis with racial hatred towards the Chinese. Indeed, the Chinese people were the first victims of this virus and have long been the primary victims of their repressive regime. They deserve our sympathy, our solidarity, and our support. But it is the repression, the lies, and the corruption of the CCP that are responsible.”14
That is precisely what Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira asserted in the now distant 1937.
I will not delve into the weighty responsibility of the Vatican’s Ostpolitik toward communist China, which went hand in hand with the American one, and which, under the pontificate of Pope Francis, has reached alarming excesses. This subject is so relevant that it deserves separate treatment.
Maybe God is telling us something with this pandemic, and the time has come to rethink our strategy toward communist China ab imis fondamentis (from its foundations). Tomorrow it will be too late.
But to do this, we need courage. One that does not come from our natural strengths, be they political, economic, or cultural. We need the intervention of divine grace on souls. Faced with the immense tragedy that our world is now experiencing, shaken by this pandemic to its foundations, I wonder if the time has not come to cry out to Heaven: Forgiveness! Pardon! Pardon! I am sure that Heaven will answer: Penance! Penance! Penance! Conversion! Conversion! Conversion! And amid the din of unleashed celestial elements, a voice as sweet as a honeycomb will be heard saying, “Confide, my children! Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph!”
1) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “7 Dias em Revista,” Legionário, no. 274, Dec. 12, 1937.
2) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “A Questão Libanesa,” Legionário, no. 591, Dec. 5, 1943.
3) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “7 Dias em Revista,” Legionário, no. 691, Nov. 4, 1945.
4) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “Nova et Vetera: A Força do Guarda-Chuvas”, Legionário, no. 774, Jun. 8, 1947.
5) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “Erros de Roosevelt na Segunda Guerra Mundial,” Catolicismo, no. 1, Jan. 1951.
6) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “Espertezas do tolo-risonho,” Catolicismo, no. 155, Nov. 1963.
7) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “Fátima, Numa Visão de Conjunto” Catolicismo, no. 167, May 1967.
8) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Clippings Meeting for Brazilian TFP members, Jul. 17, 1971. [Editor: Here, Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira is referring to a probable secret agreement between the U.S. State Department and Chinese communists that paved the way for Nixon’s 1972 trip to China and the Shanghai Communiqué.]
9) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “Yalta Multiplicada por Yalta,” Folha de S. Paulo, Mar. 12, 1972.
10) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Clippings Meeting for Brazilian TFP members, Mar. 4, 1972.
11) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “Yalta Multiplicada por Yalta,” Folha de S. Paulo, Mar. 12, 1972.
12) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Clippings Meeting for Brazilian TFP members, Mar. 4, 1972.
13) Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “Pesadelo: Dois Eixos,” Folha de S. Paulo, Oct. 1, 1972.
14) Charles Cardinal Maung Bo, “The Chinese Regime and Its Moral Culpability to the Global Contagion – COVID,” Apr. 2, 2020, http://www.catholicarchdioceseofyangon.com/newview.php?id=94.
First published in Italian, as Julio Loredo, “Ripensare la Cina,” Associazione Tradizione, Famiglia, Proprietà, Apr. 8, 2020, https://www.atfp.it/varie/1765-ripensare-la-cina and https://www.facebook.com/ATFP.IT .