You’re probably reading this outside of China thinking, ‘China doesn’t control me in any way,’ but there’s a good chance the People’s Republic of China has a lot more influence on your life than you may think.
While some people may be facing economic hardships due to a trade dispute, or some such political nonsense, odds are, you’re impacted by people over in China all the time. These examples highlight just how the Chinese have taken control of all of our lives.
See Also: 10 Ways Life Will Change If China Becomes The World’s Superpower
10 China Owns Tik-Tok
Fact: Tik-Tok Is Owned By China
Tik-Tok is an app, which was released in 2017, but it has gone on to become one of the most popular short-video social media apps for young people all over the world. Even if you don’t use the app, you probably know several people who do, and if you think that there’s no way an app like Tik-Tok could have an influence on the world’s millennial generation, you may not be aware of Tik-Tok’s reach. By the end of 2019, the app had been downloaded more than 80 million times in the United States alone.
Since the app is owned and operated out of China, the U.S. government has labeled it a national security threat following an investigation by the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Specifically, the app was noted as identifying the location and activities of members of the Armed Forces who use Tik-Tok. Even more concerning, the biometric data obtained by the app is freely shared with the Chinese government, which has dominance over the cyber industry in the country. If you use the app, odds are, someone in the Chinese government knows about it.
9 China Owns Reddit
Fact: Reddit Is A Vehicle Of Chinese Propaganda
Reddit is an American company, so you might think it was outside China’s sphere of influence. As a public company, this is not the case, and when the site raised $300 million in February 2019 through stock sales, one of the principal investors was Tencent Holdings Ltd., a Chinese internet company. The purchase/financing sparked a backlash on the site, which was mainly due to China’s policy of blocking content it finds offensive/potentially inflammatory. These include videos of the Tiananmen Square Protest and even pictures of Winnie the Pooh following online comparisons between the beloved bear and the Chinese Dictator Xi Jinping.
Reddit confirmed Tencent’s backing at $150 million, and there’s no way the company/Chinese government would invest that amount of capital without gaining some level of influence. China is one of the leaders in cyber defense/offense and seeing as it also possesses one of the most influential propaganda programs in the world, there is little doubt Reddit is a popular destination for potential influence. The site is rife with Chinese trolls, most commonly referred to as “Chinabots” by the online community and the only subreddit that supports the current US president (The_Donald) has been put into permanent quarantine so its influence cannot spread. Pro-communism subreddits are, of course, left entirely to their own devices.
8 China Owns Hollywood
Fact: Chinese Influence On American Cinema Is All About The Benjamins
If you’ve been looking over the landscape of Hollywood action cinema in recent years and thought there was a prevalence of giant robots and explosions, you can thank the Chinese film market. While this example is far less nefarious than the ones listed previously, there is no doubt that the average Chinese moviegoer loves to see movies featuring over-the-top action sequences, huge explosions, and amazing fight scenes. While the west enjoys these things as well, the European and American box office receipts would never have allowed for six+Transformers movies had the films not done as well as they did in China.
Chinese moviegoers often make up the bulk of a movie’s audience around the world, which means Chinese cash has taken over the market. Why would a movie production company invest millions in a picture the American audience wouldn’t like when the same investment in a tired action schtick earns massive cash in China? The easy answer is, they often don’t. This is the reason Michael Bay keeps making movies despite the west’s rampant disapproval in his work. Chinese people will see his movies, and many more like it, so he gets to make more.
7 Global Power
Fact: China Is Quickly Becoming A Global Power
Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States of America has long been referred to as the world’s last superpower. China is looking to join that club, and it hasn’t been working at it by invading countries, or by destabilizing governments; China has made its way onto the world stage through pure force of will… and a lot of money. China’s stake in the global economy in 1990 was just 2%, but by 2014, that number had jumped to 13% and growing.
By 2018, China had frown its economy to become the second in the world, falling just behind the United States. Over the previous 30+ years, the country moved beyond Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Japan to take its current spot, which was noted in 2018 as having a GDP of 13.6 trillion. What does this mean for the average American? China owns a massive amount of American debt, which means any money you pay in taxes sees a percentage going to the PRC in payment of that debt.
6 Goodbye Free Speech
Fact: The Chinese Government Has Limited American Free Speech
If you’re an American, odds are, you’re familiar with the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides Americans with freedom of speech alongside other rights. In late 2019, a rise in protests in Hong Kong over issues the citizens had with an increase in Chinese influence gained the attention of the rest of the world. Many westerners made comments online and in interviews, offering their support to the protesters while condemning the Chinese government. As you can imagine, the PRC government didn’t take too kindly to this.
While China can’t tell an American citizen what they can say on their home turf, the nation can limit the airing of NBA games on its televisions, which translates into a massive loss of revenue for the professional sports organization. The General Manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted an image with the words, “Fight for Freedom. Stand for Hong Kong,” which led to an immediate backlash from China. At first, the NBA sided with China and issued an apology, but this drew immediate condemnation from members of the U.S. Congress. Ultimately, Morey’s speech wasn’t suppressed, but the influence China had on the NBA was palpable.
5 Military Focus
Fact: China’s Push Towards Becoming A Superpower Has Shifted The West’s Military Focus
China has grown on the world stage as an economic powerhouse, and while this has made huge changes to the global economy, it’s also caused a ripple in defense spending throughout the west. The United States and China are far from calling one another enemies, but they are potential adversaries when it comes to military dominance of the Pacific. This is especially the case due to China’s insistence on creating islands wherever it can to extend its national boundaries in the South China Sea.
In terms of military spending, you can rest assured that the United States didn’t develop the F-22 Raptor or F-35 Lightning to counter threats from ISIS. Those weapon platforms are designed to take on similar aircraft, and those are only a couple the public knows about. Military training exercises and wargaming are featuring potential Chinese actors more and more, and any changes in training or allocation of additional equipment and training mean an increase in expense. Currently, the U.S. spends around $680 billion on defense while China spends an estimated $175 billion, but that number is trending higher, and the west is following suit.
4 Raw Materials
Fact: China Has Most Of The World’s Rare Earth Elements… And You Need Them!
Rare Earth elements are some of the most difficult elements to find and process, and to top it all off, they are vital in the electronics industry. Everything from the camera lens on your phone to the solar panels used to create renewable energy contains bits and pieces of rare earth elements, and China has a monopoly on mining and processing them. China accounts for more than 95% of the world’s production of these elements, which puts the nation in a position of power over the rest of the world.
To be clear, rare earth elements aren’t exactly rare, but they do form in limited concentrations (deposits), which are difficult to mine and even harder to process. The United States closed its only processing facility in the early 2000s, and since that time, demand for rare earth elements has increased exponentially with the advent of new electronics, high-performance aircraft, and weapons systems. So long as China holds the monopoly on processing rare earth elements, you can rest assured of your dependence on the Communist nation.
3 Made In China
Fact: Most Of The Products We Use Are Manufactured In China
There’s a joke that everything in the United States is made in China, and while the statement isn’t 100% true, it is about 10% accurate. More and more companies are moving their production to China, and the reason is rather simple; Chinese labor is abundant, readily available, and, most importantly, cheap. All of the west’s standards to worker’s rights and minimum salary expectations are thrown out the window to save money on product costs, and as a result, we can purchase our products relatively cheaply if they aren’t made in the USA.
A lot of the consumer goods we buy are made in the USA but assembled in China. This is a term often seen on products in the west. It’s cheaper to ship parts to China, have Chinese workers assemble them, and return them to the U.S. than it is to do everything in the States. This applies to a wide array of products, but one of the most important, the iPhone and most Apple products, are assembled and/or manufactured in China. Bottom line: if you’re reading this on your iPhone, you owe some thanks to the Chinese people and their government.
2 Google Kowtows To China
Fact: China’s Influence Over Google May Become Problematic
Google has long been the champion of free speech, but the company that helped build the modern Internet via its search engine and other products has been slowly acceding itself to China. Back in May of 2018, Google removed a phrase from its corporate code of conduct, which had been the standard since 2000. That phrase was “Don’t be evil,” and it looks like the company might be taking the darker path when it comes to working with China.
For years, China has blocked Google and its products from its people through the “Great Chinese Firewall,” but Google wants a piece of the action in one of the largest and fastest-growing economies on the planet. Google has been quietly working behind the scenes, to help develop a censored search engine code called “Dragonfly” in a bid to bring China into its list of customers. Chinese influence upon Google in this capacity has the potential to impact search results in the west, and any form of Internet censorship on a western audience is highly suspect and dangerous. Should this trend continue, a market of 800 million+ Chinese Internet customers may hold an advantage on a substantially smaller U.S.U.S. market.
1 Chinese Hackers
Fact: Chinese Hackers Have Probably Hacked You At Least Once
When it comes to hackers, the United States and its allies in Europe are far behind what China has in terms of people and capability. While the west was busy focusing on defense, the Chinese military was hard at work, creating a so-called “hacker army” comprised of anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 individual hackers. The Chinese hacker army regularly compromises everything from corporate and trade secrets to installing malware on popular apps used by millions of people.
There’s a very good chance that your information has been compromised by hackers in China, and there isn’t much you can do about it. If you use the Internet to pay for things, or even slide your debit card at your favorite retailer, that information has probably been stolen in one of many data thefts. These can stem from bad actors anywhere in the world, but a large portion of them are little more than Chinese hackers working on their craft.
About The Author: Jonathan is a graphic artist, illustrator, and writer. He is a Retired Soldier and enjoys researching and writing about history, science, theology, and many other subjects.