Flags of the United States and China on flagpoles on sides. Six flags on a blue background. America. USA. Washington. Beijing, Hong Kong. 3D illustration.
Flags of the United States and China on flagpoles on sides. Six flags on a blue background. America. USA. Washington. Beijing, Hong Kong. 3D illustration.

China, Elite Capture, and America’s Future

Originally published at The American Thinker

When people wonder why America is in such rapid decline with the woke normalization of censorship, cancel culture, division, unequal justice, and depravity, they need to understand the theory of “elite capture,” and how it has played such a large role.

Elite capture has been mastered by the Chinese communists (CCP), and it has proven far more successful in subverting America than the prior efforts by the Soviet Communists. While the CCP uses front groups and bots for propaganda, they have mastered all the techniques of infiltration to influence, compromise and coopt elites so as to “capture” them. Typical targets include university professors and scientists, media executives and reporters, and corporate and political leaders.

Within a decade of opening relations with China in 1972, the Chinese began wooing American businesses to set up shop in China, offering a cheap labor manufacturing platform and the promise of access to a large market. Fast forward to today and we find that industry leading American companies such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, 3M, Wal-Mart, Hasbro, Mattel, Gap, Nike, and many others now manufacture far more of their products in China than anywhere else. We learned through the COVID-19 experience that 80 percent of the basic components known as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), come from ChinaAll companies doing business in China have learned to remain silent and not criticize the CCP, especially regarding corruption in government and human rights violations, such as the persecutions and forced labor of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the Tibetans in Xizang.

With China running a multi-billion-dollar trade surplus with the United States for many years, it has plenty of U.S. dollars to facilitate elite capture through bribery. The Chinese have spent billions to buy influence in America, and when the Chinese are successful with bribery, they intend to influence and gain control of their American targets. And of course, once having taken money illicitly, people find themselves compromised and in an awkward position to extricate themselves. Often these compromised elites have little choice but to see their interests and those of China interconnected or even identical.  

Today’s CCP takes heed from Mao’s ten-year Cultural Revolution in China that began in 1966. They see cultural influence as paramount because it is upstream of politics and is the single most important force in shaping society downstream. Thus, they have executed on partial elite capture of U.S. media and Hollywood studio assets in the last 10 years, acquiring controlling interests in some twelve leading Hollywood and media companies, such as AMC Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, the Legendary Jurassic World Production Company, Dick Clarke Productions, STX Entertainment, IM Global, Studio 8, Riot Games and more. With China being one of the largest markets for big-screen movies, all American production houses now self-censor — avoiding any criticism of the Chinese government or mention of Taiwan, Tibet, or the Uyghurs.

With media conglomerates being multidimensional, it’s impossible for their news entities to remain insulated from Chinese influence. For example, companies such as Disney, which owns ABC, and Comcast, which owns NBC News, CNBC, and MSNBC, for example — are large multinational conglomerates that own news organizations among many other holdings, including entertainment companies. Conflicts of interest resulting from Chinese relationships between not only Hollywood and the news media but also theme parks, cellular and cable networks, and movie theaters — with nearly all the products they sell manufactured in China — are inevitable. The same Disney that owns ABC has a theme park in Shanghai, and it also owns ESPN. In turn, ESPN has a multibillion-dollar content-rights deal with the NBA. Lebron James the biggest American basketball star in China and the center of the Nike-NBA industrial complex has defended the CCP crackdowns in Hong Kong.

Without a doubt the greatest elite capture by the CCP has been the Joe Biden family, which started at least as far back as 2013 when son Hunter accompanied his father Joe, then U.S. vice president, on a trip to China. Significant payments to the Biden family started a few years later.

After studying the documents on the Hunter Biden laptop, former criminal prosecutor and New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani concluded that: “What Hunter Biden is, is a bagman… I’ve prosecuted many cases like this. He’s collecting Joe’s bribes that come to about $12 million from Ukraine and $3.5 million from Russia. But the big money comes from China. And the amount of money involved is in the tens of millions of dollars.” Today, there is documented proof that that the Biden family has received at least $31 million from entities controlled by the CCP, with greater Chinese payoffs yet to come.

Rudy Giuliani sums up what ultimate elite capture looks like, stating: “The Biden Family is owned by the Chinese Communist Party.”  

We will conclude where we began with more insight about why America is in such trouble. The normalization of censorship, cancel culture, unequal justice, depravity, Critical Race Theory indoctrination of the military in America today is all related to “elite capture.”

Clarity about our predicament can start with taking heed of George Washington’s warning to the nation in his 1796 Farewell Address: “Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.