The United States Has Gotten Tough on China. When Will It Get Strategic?

The United States Has Gotten Tough on China. When Will It Get Strategic?

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported the Trump administration is weighing a ban on all members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and their families from traveling to the United States. We do not know the full details of the proposal, and we do not need to. The move, however it might eventually be worded or implemented, would be a mistake. 

Several flaws with the plan are immediately obvious:

  • There is no public membership list, so there is no way of knowing for certain who is a CCP member and who is not. How could an individual prove they are not a member of the CCP?
  • There are nearly 92 million CCP members, yet less than 8 million serve in party or government organs, meaning the vast majority of members have no meaningful connection to policy decisions. The single biggest occupational category of party membership is “farmers, fishermen, and cattle workers.”
  • More than 12 million party members are below the age of 30, which means the United States would be cutting off ties and any potential influence over the future leaders of the country.
  • By implicating the family of party members as well, likely more than a third of the entire country would be cut off from travel to the United States. What would this mean for U.S. citizens who want to host their CCP member parents? What would this mean for spouses of U.S. citizens who have party membership?

But beyond the immediate practical and ethical problems, the plan fails the test of basic strategic thinking.