If the Chinese Communist Party wants one of its cells among Zoom’s employees to snoop in on conversations within, say, American high-tech firms, who is Zoom to say no?
To point this out is not to be paranoid. It is only to recognize that the mind of a Chinese leader is strategic to the extreme.
Take Mao, whom Mr. Xi reveres. The strategy Mao used to further his goal of a Marxist-Leninist world revolution in the 1960s was the same he had used to vanquish his much stronger opponent, Chiang Kai-shek, during China’s civil war from the late 1920s to 1950: win over the countryside in order to surround the cities (鄉村包圍城市). By analogy, the world’s advanced capitalist countries were the cities, and less developed countries were its countryside. Mao began courting Third World nations in earnest in the 1960s.
Mr. Xi is reaping the benefits today. The world’s countryside has been won over, secured with physical choke points, and Mr. Xi is now bringing the fight to the metropolises — the West — by forward-deploying China’s virtual choke points. It is time to “dare to draw the dazzling sword” (敢於亮劍), he and his government have declared repeatedly.
The strategy-richness of Chinese thinking is not a Communist invention. China’s imperial civil service examination system included a physical test of martial skills and a written test in classical military texts. But the Chinese government is now doubling down on it, including in education.
The concept of “geopolitical choke points” — 關隘, literally, narrow passes — has long been part of the vocabulary of primary school students in China, who can readily rattle off, by way of simply rhymed classical poems, the names of half a dozen such sites in China, all marking the historical expansion of the country’s boundaries into the homelands of so-called barbarians.
Chinese children also study “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, which has two chapters, “Terrain” and “The Nine Situations,” that deal with strategic topography. In 2015, the text became required reading in junior high schools. Some publishers have put out an illustrated version for 7- to 14-year-olds.