cover image America Second: How America’s Elites Are Making China Stronger

America Second: How America’s Elites Are Making China Stronger

Isaac Stone Fish. Knopf, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-65770-5

The lures of money and access have turned U.S. political and business leaders into covert supporters of Chinese interests, according to this stinging exposé. Fish, a Washington Post columnist and business consultant, cites examples of prominent, politically well-connected Americans accepting speaking engagements, board seats, and, in presidential brother Neil Bush’s case, prostitutes, from institutions tied to the Chinese Communist Party in exchange for supporting the Party’s stances on Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang concentration camps, and other controversial issues. (Fish labels Henry Kissinger a principal “agent of Chinese influence” for his ubiquitous role advising supplicants on how to kowtow to Beijing.) The rot extends, Fish argues, to American corporations that lobby Congress for pro-Chinese trade policies in exchange for access to Chinese markets; Hollywood studios that rewrite scripts at the behest of Chinese officials to emphasize China’s wholesomeness and heroism so they can get their films screened there; and American universities with lucrative branches in and partnerships with China that tolerate censorship of students, faculty, and speakers. Written in tart prose that pulls no punches, Fish’s persuasive investigation reveals a morass of corruption and sycophancy that has worrisome geopolitical implications. Readers will be alarmed. (Feb.)