How to stand up to China and other commentary

Foreign desk: How To Stand Up to China

Beijing’s neighbors took grim note last month when China issued 14 trade demands to Australia, writes Robert A. Manning at The National Interest, because the list seems “a very conscious reprise” of imperial Japan’s “now-infamous Twenty-One Demands” to China a century ago, as Tokyo began “building its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” And when it comes to Communist China’s overall economic coercion, “the pattern is unmistakable.” Other nations “need to collectively stand up and say: This shall not stand, we cannot do business this way with China.” He recommends 10 ­demands to make of Beijing, including true transparency, honoring its treaty commitments, taking down the “Great Firewall,” ending Communist Party control of private businesses and agreeing to real international investigation of the novel coronavirus’ origins.

Media watch: Journalists vs. Free Speech

The New Yorker’s Steve Coll claims free speech “is being weaponized against the principles of journalism,” yet National Review’s David Harsanyi shows that it’s journalism that “has turned on free speech.” Now that the Fourth Estate can no longer “monopolize” the news we consume, it asserts that “too much speech” is bad for our institutions. Criticism, for instance, that “Facebook’s reluctance to limit users is akin to neglecting efforts to ‘preserve democracy,’ as Coll ludicrously suggests,” only shows “how the contemporary usage of ‘democracy’ means little more than ‘fulfilling the wishes of liberals.’ ” Yes, “mainstream journalists . . . regularly spread unscientific, indecent and misleading ideas.” But “that’s not a free-speech problem, it’s a journalist problem.”

From the left: Biden Backs the Blob

The blob is back, declares Vox’s Alex Ward. Presidents Trump and Barack Obama were “deeply skeptical of the capital’s groupthink” and “kept the nation’s foreign-policy establishment at arm’s length,” but Joe Biden “has warmly embraced it.” In his “nearly 50 years in national politics,” he has “formed deep bonds with Washington’s foreign-policy elite,” and “the senior-most members of Biden’s foreign-policy team are card-carrying members of the blob,” reflecting “his own blob-like views.” That raises fears “that the new administration’s thinking will remain calcified in yesteryear.” The “old guard is back in power” and will be in the room “when the biggest decisions on China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are made.

”Libertarian: Sheriffs vs. California Lockdowns

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed a draconian new stay-at-home lockdown order, but can he enforce it? “Over the past few days,” reports Reason’s Christian Britschgi, “the sheriffs of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties have said that their deputies will not be issuing tickets or making arrests of people ­violating the governor’s latest coronavirus restrictions.” One sheriff says that unpopular work is up to health departments, while his deputies will tackle “ ‘super-spreader’ events.” That, Britschgi says, “is an encouraging sign that Newsom, who has operated with a pretty free hand during most of the pandemic, is finally starting to encounter real resistance to his constantly shifting, often arbitrary rules.”

From the right: The Washington Post’s Hypocrisy

The Washington Post just asked every Republican in Congress who they believe won the election, exposing the extent of President Trump’s “stolen-election nonsense” — but also proving the paper “sure can be ­selectively tough,” notes the Washington Examiner’s Becket Adams. Think of “all the opportunities it missed over the past four years to ask congressional Democrats similar questions.” No calling out Rep. Jerry Nadler, Joe Biden or even Hillary Clinton for suggesting Trump is an ­“illegitimate” president; instead, the paper promoted “basically every Red Scare story that came across staffers’ desks.” Yes, hold Republicans ­accountable “as Trump’s allegations grow more deranged by the day.” But Adams wonders where this hard-hitting style of journalism was when “Democrats were running around alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally installed a puppet in the Oval Office.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board