How President Trump can borrow from US Cuba policy to squeeze Beijing on
Asia, Foreign and Defense Policy
The New York Times reports that “President Trump, frustrated by China’s
unwillingness to lean on North Korea, has told the Chinese leader that
the United States is prepared to act on its own in pressuring the
nuclear-armed government in Pyongyang.” Trump, the Times reports, wants
to take measures against China that “would spur Mr. Xi to reconsider his
reluctance to press the North.”
Over at the Wall Street Journal, my old boss Bill McGurn has a great
idea on how Trump can do just that:
If the first Duke of Wellington were alive today, he might advise that
the battle for North Korea will be won or lost on Harvard Yard. Add
Stanford, Yale, Dartmouth, Chicago and other top-tier private American
universities so popular with China’s “red nobility” i.e., the children
and grandchildren of Communist Chinese elites. For if the Trump
administration hopes to enlist an unwilling Beijing to check North
Korea’s nuclear ambitions, visas for the children of China’s ruling
class to attend these universities offer an excellent pressure point….
The advantage of starting with student visas is twofold: The unintended
harm done would be more limited than any military strike, and visas are
likely a more effective lever than sanctions.
Today 328,547 Chinese students attend American universities, according
to the Institute for International Education. The Chinese represent the
largest group of foreign students in America….
The Chinese taste for prestigious American universities goes right to
the top. Although President Xi Jinping rails against the corruption of
Western values, his daughter went to Harvard, which Mr. Xi managed to
swing on an official annual salary of roughly $20,000. A few years back,
the Washington Post noted that of the nine members of the standing
committee of China’s Politburo, at least five had children or
grandchildren studying in the US. There are many, many more.
This is a brilliant idea, and there is legal precedent for it. In 1996,
Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act which tightened economic sanctions
on Cuba, including measures to bar the senior executives of European and
Canadian businesses that trafficked in stolen American property on the
island and their immediate families from entering the United States.
The bill declared these individuals “persona non grata” which meant no
family vacations in Disneyland, no shopping trips on 5th Avenue and
Rodeo Drive for their wives, and no American colleges and universities
for their children.
Of all the sanctions included in the Helms-Burton law — including
allowing Americans to sue the foreign investors for treble damages in US
courts — none stung like the visa restrictions. Just the threat of
preventing family members from entering the US deterred investment, for
one simple reason: The one thing CEOs fear more than angry shareholders
are angry wives and children. The Helms-Burton law turned the wives and
children of these executives into lobbyists for change in investment policy.
Visa restrictions relating to North Korea could have a similar effect
Chinese leaders. Congress should pass legislation authorizing the
president to declare any foreign person and their immediately family
members deemed to be complicit in enabling trade with North Korea to be
persona non-grata in the US.
Mr. Xi and his comrades may be reluctant to take serious action against
Pyongyang. But Madame Xi and her comrades may have other ideas.
Source: How President Trump can borrow from US Cuba policy to squeeze
Beijing on North Korea • AEI | Foreign and Defense Policy Blog » AEIdeas