In the 1930’s the United States watched as Adolf Hitler built a powerful military force in open defiance to the Treaty of Versailles, which had limited the size and type of the German military in the wake of World War I.

Hitler started the great cleansing. He built the initial concentration camp in Dachau in 1933 – first to suppress Nazi opposition and later to exterminate Jews. By 1938, Hitler had annexed the largely German-populated Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, completing the Nazi conquest the following year. America was isolationist and could not be bothered by the “European Problem.”

Halfway around the world the Empire of Japan implemented a strategic plan to become the Pacific Region superpower with absolute control of the western Pacific. Japan ravaged Manchuria, captured Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. On Dec. 7, 1941, they attacked Pearl Harbor, eventually pushing the United States out of Guam and the Philippines. Imperial Japan controlled all territories stretching from Burma to the Solomon Islands, and by 1942 had advanced northward to our own Aleutian Islands in Alaska – occupying Kiska and Attu.

We know the rest of the story.

The US Director of National Intelligence said China intends “to dominate economically, militarily, and technologically…”

So, here we are in the 21st century confronting a new global threat to peace and stability – China. Make no mistake, China is on the move to become the world’s sole superpower. I present as evidence the following:

* Building a blue water Navy – China now has the world’s largest navy. 

* Building military naval and aviation fortresses in the contested Spratly Island region, an area rich in oil and gas reserves, also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines.

* Squeezing Taiwan by isolating it from external diplomatic relations and using constant military pressure to intimidate the population.

* Suppressing democratic guarantees of the 1990 Hong Kong Basic Law which ensured Hong Kong would retain its people’s rights and freedom for 50 years.

* Establishing massive Uyghur Muslim concentration camps in western China, to include forced abortions and reported human organ trafficking of Uyghurs.

* Creating an extensive international spy network to steal foreign intelligence and business secrets.

* Funding foreign infrastructure projects using the Belt and Road Initiative to gain leverage should a receiving country be unable to repay its debt.

* Allowing COVID-19 to spread across Europe and North America without transparency regarding its origin or its highly probable global health impacts.

* Signing the Paris Climate Accord, but only on the condition China not be required to comply until 2030, while annually increasing their carbon dioxide pollution and carbon tetrachloride levels more than the United States and Europe combined.                                    

* Creating artificial intelligence facial scanning technology and social credit system whereby people are rewarded or punished based on their scores.

The US Director of National Intelligence said China intends “to dominate economically, militarily, and technologically, and is the only country capable of challenging American supremacy across the board.” (FOX News, December 9, 2020.)

According to the FBI report, “The China Threat 2020,” the Chinese government is seeking to become the world’s greatest superpower through predatory lending and business practices, systematic theft of intellectual property and brazen cyber intrusions like the one we just experienced last month.

To them, Alaska is just another state in another nation that they can exploit.

Alaska must be very cautious about our relationship with China. They do not pretend to have equal regard for American interests and are rapidly pushing to show the world they are the global superpower, not America. To them, Alaska is just another state in another nation that they can exploit.

Let me offer a personal example. While serving as Lieutenant Governor I led a small delegation to China to explore potential economic ties that could be expanded, such as in the seafood industry, passenger and cargo flights, sale of Alaska oil and/or natural gas, tourism and a few other smaller focus areas.

The State Office of International Trade arranged the itinerary. Prior to leaving we were advised that China preferred we not fly non-stop between Beijing and Taipei. They expressed concern that this may give the appearance that Alaska views Taiwan as an equal country to China. Without getting into the details, the United States as yet has not accepted the One China policy that Taiwan is part of mainland China. Regardless, we changed flights, connecting through Hong Kong. You would think an international crisis had been averted. Wrong.

When we arrived in Beijing everything went as planned. Meetings were fine until we arrived to meet with the Ministry of Commerce. We waited and waited. We were eventually shown into a small conference room where we waited some more. Finally, a Deputy for the Minister came in, sat down across from me and proceeded to lecture me about the insensitive arrangements of flying non-stop between Beijing and Taipei and how that was a major international affront to the Chinese people, whereby he got up and left.

No meeting, no discussing possible trade relations, nothing more than an arrogant school principal’s tongue lashing. I left thinking I had just witnessed a very childish outburst by a senior government official over a simple flight, which had already been changed. Then I understood a bit more about China. It’s all about power. This was an opportunity for a theatrical power show. What a bunch of wasted time, effort, and hot-air by that pitiful man.

We were very lucky not to have ended with a China financed and controlled natural gas pipeline…

We did, however, have very productive meetings with industry in China. Since Chinese industry is government owned, I thought that if China really didn’t want to talk with us about business opportunities they would have treated us as did the government official. They did not. It was all a show – posturing to make a point.

But it also shows the insecurity China has towards the United States and the animosity they harbor towards our democratic government (which threatens them, i.e. Hong Kong) and our prosperity, which they envy and desperately want for themselves.

The 21st century challenges with China will be significant. It is this century’s evil empire. They will want to use Alaska as they do other places across the globe. They invest money, fund projects, and make generous loans in order to gain leverage they hope to then use in future years to control foreign infrastructure, businesses and public policy decisions.

Alaskans must remain vigilant to these ultimate objectives. We were very lucky not to have ended with a China financed and controlled natural gas pipeline, which may have resulted in unmarketable natural gas with a debt to China that they would demand we pay. Say goodbye to the PFD.

We must remain watchful of China’s determination to replace the United States as a global economic, political and military superpower…

We need to be cautious of any project underwritten by China. We must never let Chinese State investments in Alaskan businesses and projects be exposed to potential forfeit, and we must protect from possible nationalization by China. 

Recently Russia and China held joint military exercises in the Pacific as a show of force against the United States. We must maintain a strong Pacific military presence in Alaska to thwart unreasonable Chinese expansionism into the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean.

Primarily, we must remain watchful of China’s determination to replace the United States as a global economic, political and military superpower, and always support U.S. national interests ahead of Chinese deals. With the new Biden Administration already cooped by China, we also must resist any federal overtures to China that may damage Alaska. Only in that way do we protect Alaska’s interests.

As China grows ever more powerful, Alaska must act shrewdly

Craig Campbell
Craig E. Campbell served on the Anchorage Assembly between 1986 and 1995 and later as Alaska’s Tenth Lieutenant Governor. He was the previous Chief Executive Officer and President for Alaska Aerospace Corporation. He retired from the Alaska National Guard as Lieutenant General (AKNG) and holds the concurrent retired Federal rank of Major General (USAF).