Frank Gaffney: How China’s Communist Party Is Exploiting American Pension Funds and the Coronavirus Outbreak

May 12, 2020 Updated: May 15, 2020

Just why is it dangerous for US pension funds to be investing heavily in China? How is this endangering US national security?

How are Chinese companies able to get away with not providing any information about financial risk?

And, how has the Chinese Communist Party sought to benefit from this global coronavirus outbreak that it caused?

In this episode, we sit down with Frank Gaffney, Vice Chairman of the Committee on the Present Danger: China. He’s also the Executive Chairman of the Center for Security Policy and host of Secure Freedom Radio.

This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.

Jan Jekielek: Frank Gaffney. So great to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Frank Gaffney: The pleasure is mine. Thank you so much for having me here.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, it’s kind of high time. I still remember when you had your initial public meeting that launched the Committee on the Present Danger, China. When was that exactly?

Mr. Gaffney: That was the end of March of 2019.

Mr. Jekielek: 2019, so we’re talking about basically a year ago. It seems to me, the way that China and the Chinese Communist Party have exposed themselves as a consequence of this coronavirus—or CCP virus as we at the Epoch Times call it—pandemic validates everything that you’ve been trying to do, it seems that way to me. What do you think?

Mr. Gaffney: Well, I think what has happened for sure is that the events that have involved this CCP pandemic, and I think that’s the right way to describe it, and its aftermath, have certainly put [it] into very sharp relief for a lot of Americans. The nature of the Chinese Communist Party, the conduct it engages in incessantly, and the threat that it poses to us, in a way that a little over a year ago, we were articulating and felt very strongly needed to be elevated as an issue with the American people. But it’s now come home in a way that no amount of advocacy on our part or, far larger campaign certainly could have accomplished without this. I think of it as kind of the equivalent to what has been said: the birth of a conservative is a liberal who was mugged by reality. A lot of our countrymen and women have now been mugged by the reality of what the Chinese Communist Party is about.

Mr. Jekielek: Before we jump into our main topic, I want to talk about the capital markets and the Thrift Savings Plan, which is something that you guys have been doing a ton of advocacy work around. I want to talk about a very disturbing video I watched last night and commented on. And this was a former US ambassador to China on CNN likening the [U.S.] administration’s response to China to language that 1930s Nazi Germany was using. I looked at this and I thought this is so deeply wrong at so many levels. I can’t even fathom how someone could say something like this at this time.

Mr. Gaffney: Well, consider the source. This is a former United States senator who was sent off to represent the United States by Barack Obama in Beijing, and I think like an awful lot of others who are champions of engagement with the Chinese Communist Party, no amount of evidence as to what they’re about is likely to penetrate this deep conviction that the appropriate response of this country to China must always be accommodation, going along to get along. I mean, there are some interesting parallels to the 1930s. I happen to think that Max Baucus got this one completely wrong. You want to talk about a policy of appeasement, very much a leitmotif of the 1930s. You could point to that. If you want to point to the suppression of the warnings of critics about the rising threat from a foreign government, you could make that connection as well. If you want to suggest that the Trump administration is behaving like the Nazis? I don’t see any basis for that whatsoever.

Mr. Jekielek: We’ve seen this Asia Society letter of a whole bunch of noted individuals saying that we need to cooperate and so forth. Just recently there was an editorial in the Washington Post by the Chinese ambassador, talking about how China’s ready to cooperate. Yet there seems to be a lot of indication that there isn’t a willingness to cooperate.

Mr. Gaffney: I think you have to stay focused on both what the Chinese are saying to their own party cadre and what they’re doing. Not what they’re saying to us, what their propaganda outlets are promoting, or what their fellow travelers, useful idiots, whatever you want to call them, are touting in terms of essentially echoing the party line. What they’re saying to themselves, to their leadership circles, is very clearly that the United States is the enemy. And that Communist China will prevail over that enemy by the cumulative effects of its now decades-long efforts through asymmetric warfare or unrestricted warfare—through predatory trade practices, through their Belt and Road initiative, through their dominance of space or their dominance of the 5G telecommunications universe, through their military buildup—they will prevail over us they will become the world’s dominant power.

That’s what’s really afoot here. And anything else that they say for our consumption or would have us believe or join their helpmates in the west to sort of trumpet on their behalf about cooperation or about their peaceful rise and their commitment to full, transparent relationship, commercially, and militarily and otherwise, it’s simply not true. And we treat it as anything other than disinformation designed to confuse or at least, paralyze us, at our extreme peril.

Mr. Jekielek: This actually brings us closer to our main points of our discussion here. And you guys have been doing some hard advocacy from what I’ve seen, around the Thrift Savings Plan. And I’m wondering if you could remind us all what the Thrift Savings Plan is exactly, and why this is an issue.

Mr. Gaffney: But let me make an introductory comment if I may, the Thrift Savings Plan, which is, of course, the retirement program for federal employees, both civilian and military, both past and present, is a microcosm really of a much larger problem, which is the role that Wall Street has been playing now for some decades to migrate immense wealth, by some estimates, $3 trillion from the US stock and bond markets, to Chinese companies, some of them very dubious standing financially, some of them that have been sanctioned by the United States government for their human rights abuses or their proliferation of weapon systems, some of which are involved in building weapons designed to kill us, specifically our men and women in uniform but others as well.

So it’s against that backdrop that we have to look at a decision that was originally made in 2017 and most recently reaffirmed by something—that frankly, nobody’s ever heard of before—called the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. [It] oversees this $600 billion dollar-plus federal retirement portfolio. And it’s responsible for deciding how to invest the funds. And there are different funds, the one in question is called the I-Fund, the International fund. And as I say, the board has decided that it wants to start investing these funds of the International portfolio in a mirrored index, that includes about 11% Chinese companies.

So what would happen would be that servicemen and women in the United States military and their civilian counterparts if they wanted a diversified portfolio, with international stocks in it, would have no choice. Once this decision is implemented, which could happen at any day now, [they would have no choice] but to have their money, at least part of it, going into Chinese companies of a malevolent character, among other things. The Committee on the Present Danger, China, has regarded this as an opportunity to stop, hopefully, a very ill-advised practice on the part of Wall Street by preventing this particular access to perhaps $5 to $10 billion of additional funding from migrating to the Chinese Communist Party. And you’re right, we’ve been very actively trying to raise awareness about this impending decision, and I’m very gratified that the President has now apparently learned of it. And as we had hoped, responded properly saying, this mustn’t happen. This must stop, according to one published report, and he’s absolutely right about that.

Mr. Jekielek: Numerous people out there will say, “Well, this is going to Chinese companies—this isn’t going to the Chinese Communist Party.”

Mr. Gaffney: I think that’s very simple-minded. To be honest, everything in China is in the service of the Chinese Communist Party. That is most especially true, of course, of state-owned enterprises. But it’s also true of so-called private entities that happen to have a couple of things that I believe make them essentially agents of and enablers of the Chinese Communist Party. One is they all have as part of their corporate management structure, Chinese Communist Party cells, which is to say that nothing is done by the company without the blessing of those apparatchiks who were sure that it conforms to the interests of the party and the party line.

And then of course, there’s the National Intelligence act, Article Seven, which obliges all communist entities and so-called private sector ones, to conform to the demands of the party at any moment to perform as directed. And whether that’s collecting intelligence, whether that’s stealing intellectual property, whether that’s engaging in human rights abuses, whether that’s building South China Sea Islands, so that the party can dominate those international waters and the airspace above them, and the minerals below. Whatever the topic is, whatever the purpose is, it is for the express benefits of the Chinese Communist Party as the rulers of the government of China.

Mr. Jekielek: So, Frank, a couple of vantage points here. We understand roughly how the US governance system works. How does the Chinese Communist Party fit into the Chinese governance system? It’s quite different than the way typically a party would fit into, for example, a democratic government like the US.

Mr. Gaffney: Yes, it’s fairly simple. The Chinese Communist Party is the government. There are various institutions and rubber stamp parliaments and politburos and central committees, and this is that, but fundamentally, it is the party and in this case, under its president general secretary it is primarily a dictatorship ruled by the man who rules the Chinese Communist Party—Xi Jinping.

Mr. Jekielek: Can you sketch out for me some of these companies that are actually part of the index that the Thrift Savings Plan is supposed to be investing in?

Mr. Gaffney: Sure, there are a number of them and by the way, about 134 of us—national security professionals, subject matter experts, business leaders, faith leaders, human rights activists and ordinary citizens—came together in a letter to President Trump a little under two weeks ago, the 25th of April, in which we laid out illustrative examples of the problematic companies that the Thrift Savings Plan has in mind investing in. They include things like Aiviq, which is the principal manufacturer of a lot of the People’s Liberation Army’s aircraft and missile systems, the China shipbuilding industry which produces their warships, their submarines, their surface combatants, their new aircraft carriers. Among them. You have Hikvision, which is the foremost manufacturer in China of surveillance cameras and a key component of the so-called social credit system that I know you’ve reported a lot on, that is used to oppress particularly people of faith but others in China as well to essentially maintain real-time surveillance and control of the entire population. There are the Chinese construction companies that have built these man-made islands in the South China Sea and now been involved in fortifying them. There’s China Telecom and China Mobile, China Unicom, that are instruments for the build-out of those islands and a lot of other telecommunications activities besides that China uses in a dual use manner, some civilian applications, to be sure, but also a lot for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

So in short, you have companies that are doing bad things, and you have, among them some companies that have been sanctioned by the United States government for doing those bad things. And it’s just extraordinary—actually outrageous that it’s illegal for Americans to do business with such companies and yet it’s still possible for them to invest in them. This makes no sense and I think needs to be fixed.

As does the larger point, which is why I started with the capital markets writ large, and that is: None of these companies…engages in the kind of accounting, transparency, governance disclosure, material risk disclosure, that their American counterparts are obliged to engage. In fact, this was the subject of an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that talks about the Securities and Exchange Commission falling down on the job by not requiring that these Chinese companies conform to our laws and regulations and standards. There was a recent statement issued by the chairman and some others of the SEC, that professed to say to the public, well, you know, you have to be careful investing in these Chinese companies as though that’s enough. It’s not. And they were rightly taken to task by, interestingly enough, a former member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Arthur Levitt, and one of his colleagues, Michael Manns.

This is an outrage. The fact that the outrage is now being compounded by the prospect that those who serve our country in the uniform of the United States military might be obliged to have their retirement savings invested in the enemy, is not just outrageous, I think it’s obscene.

Mr. Jekielek: This goes back to an earlier question I had for you, which was, how does this happen? We have talked about this range of issues on the show a number of times. I think this is the plainest and clearest I’ve heard it stated. But it still boggles the mind that this could happen, right? I mean, at the very least, you would think that the requirements would be higher for outside companies than for American companies, not non-existent, which is what I’m hearing now.

Mr. Gaffney: They are non-existent. And you know why? This is an interesting fact. The reason that the SEC does not require the Chinese to provide any of that information about the financial viability of these companies, their material risks, how they’re governed, is because all of that information we’re told, is considered a state secret by the Chinese Communist Party. I don’t know about you. But to me, that’s a clue that maybe there’s a problem here. The point is, how could this have happened? And it’s, again, actually fairly simple to explain it. For decades, our government, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, has insisted that doing business with China was not only going to be lucrative for the companies involved, especially these Wall Street’s investment firms, but it was going to be good for this country and for the world. Engagement, in other words, we were told, was the policy of the United States and very much to be encouraged in the private sector as well.

So going back to what we talked about at the beginning, I believe that a lot of Americans who are suddenly waking up in horror to discover that, for example, our supply chains, for example, for medicine, depend on Chinese communist sources. [They] are discovering, to their surprise, just how malevolent these Chinese companies actually are, particularly in connection with withholding from us things like personal protective equipment that we need, or engaged in the theft on the order of a half a trillion dollars a year of our intellectual property. I mean, the kinds of things that are not unknown if people were paying attention, but most of us haven’t been and that’s largely because our government has told us this is all good and we want to continue it. If anything, we want to double down on it. So I believe that the mugging by reality that we’ve all been subjected to is now the necessary occasion for a course correction by this government. And fortunately, I think that President Trump has understood that probably better than any of his predecessors since the opening to China with Richard Nixon.

Mr. Jekielek: We have heard that the White House is now taking this question of the Thrift Fund investment strategy quite seriously and is looking into it. Any word on the status of this?

Mr. Gaffney: I think it’s a bit of a work in progress. We’re told the President has made absolutely clear what he wants to do, which is to stop this decision from being implemented by the Thrift Savings board. I believe that there are those in his administration, as has been true, practically on every topic you can think of, and again, you’ve been covering a lot of this very, very well at Epoch Times, who are resisting the President’s direction, who are trying to change his mind or change his executive order or whatever other form it might take.

What has happened, happily, is at last three individuals have been appointed by President Trump to fill expired seats on the board. The people who made this decision regarding moving funds into China are still there, though their terms have long since passed in terms of their expiration. And it’s our hope that these new appointments will be properly and rapidly processed by the United States Senate which has to confirm them, and that they will take up their positions and then they will then have an opportunity to revisit and hopefully vote down this idea. Instead, keeping the funds where they are now, which is invested in developed nations’ economies, that is to say, no enemies.

But there may be a need for the President to do something in the way of a stopgap order to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to simply suspend the implementation of this decision, because it’ll take a while for the Senate to work its will on these three appointments. I pray that the President will do this and that we won’t find ourselves confronted with a fait accompli, which I think this investment board is beavering away at, to just get it done. Just start moving the money into these Chinese companies and then tell the President and the rest of us that it’s too late.

Mr. Jekielek: The Military Thrift fund, though, isn’t really the only fund that’s following these indices that are demanding that dollars be invested in these very suspicious Chinese companies.

Mr. Gaffney: No, unfortunately, there are other indices. The most egregious one that I’m aware of is the MSCI emerging markets index that now has, I believe, some 45% of its portfolio invested in Chinese communist companies. And let me just make one thing clear—because it’s stunning, but it’s not otherwise generally disclosed—nobody, not the indexes, not the people who wrap these indexes, the exchange trade, exchange fund traders, nor the SEC, does any due diligence on these companies at all. We have no PCAOB accounting, as they call it, that meets Western standards. We have evidence, anecdotal evidence that in many cases, these are shells. They’re fraudulently represented as having assets. One of the companies, a pharmaceutical company—interestingly enough, given our present concern about our supply chain dependency on China, a pharmaceutical company in China—disclosed, I believe it was last year, that $4.4 billion went missing. Missing. Now, how many other companies like that are there? We have no idea. …The emerging market funds of the MSCI or other companies—Fidelity and Vanguard and others—are following this notion that there’s enormous amounts of money to be made in China, we just can tap into the China market all will be well.

I believe that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, at least the moment when these Chinese companies and the economy of China more generally are in the tank. But what’s true, and I think has been for quite some time is, the people managing these funds are getting rich from investing in China. That’s for sure. They’re getting handsome commissions or other management fees for doing so. But it’s not so clear that this is actually benefiting the institutional investors and the pensioners and others…

Again, it’s not just the Federal Thrift Savings Plan that’s involved. You have CalPERS. So the California Public Employees Retirement System, which, that’s another story, is under the tender mercies of a chief investment officer by the name of Yu Ben Meng, who is actually from China and became a member of the Thousand Talents Program. A number of people have been arrested in connection with the Thousand Talents Program. Under Meng’s management of the CalPERS portfolio, there has been a substantial increase in the number of Chinese companies held by the California employees pension funds.

We’re not singling out the Thrift Savings Plan for any special criticism. It’s just that this is a fund that hasn’t yet made the mistake that these other funds have. And it’s still possible to prevent that from happening, I believe to the great benefit of the investors themselves, the men and women in uniform most especially. And I think the American people as well.

Mr. Jekielek: I was recently asked the question: “What is the biggest vulnerability of the Chinese Communist Party?” Based on everything I know, I said, “I think it has to do with their desperate need for US dollars.” And this actually comes from all sorts of interviews I’ve had on this show, and of course, some of our own internal sources. It strikes me that these funds are effectively doing that. Do you agree? Is that the biggest vulnerability? And secondly, what do you think about how these funds are participating in that?

Mr. Gaffney: I do believe that the single greatest vulnerability Communist China has is that it needs to rely on us—the West more generally, but mostly the United States—for the liquidity that gives it the wherewithal to do all of those malevolent things that I talked about earlier in the program. It is the walking-around money, it is the enabling financing of the entire array of asymmetric warfare, economic and non-kinetic as well as the capability to engage in kinetic kinds of warfare as well. And when you look at that vulnerability, and the fact that we continue even in the wake of this pandemic, to believe that we can’t possibly restrict its access to funds, we can’t possibly deprive it of the means by which it is working to … destroy us, certainly to displace us as the dominant power of the world, certainly to impose its form of governance on the world, and its priorities, its values.

If history is written by the victors, and we are lucky enough to be the victors, the people writing the history will not be able to fathom what was going on with respect to our underwriting of the Chinese Communist Party. You know the dictum that is attributed to Vladimir Lenin: The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we’ll hang them. [This] has been taken to a new level by the Chinese Communist Party. They’ve now arranged for the capitalists to finance the purchase of the rope with which they’ll hang us. It’s not just unbelievable. It is dangerous in the extreme. And I believe that we have an alternative approach. Wall Street wants to invest money, I get that, there’s a lot of it sloshing around, even in this environment. … President Trump, his administration, the Congress, the public advocacy community, which we’re a part of, the media and others ought to be making common cause with leaders in the business community, on Wall Street and elsewhere, to invest patriotically instead. Instead of investing money from American accounts that enrich, that enable, that empower, and then embolden enemies of our country.

We could do so much with those resources to strengthen our country and to deter any possibility that that adversary thinks it might be able to get away with doing us harm. This is not just common sense. This is a national priority, especially in the wake of the attack we’ve now suffered at the Chinese Communist Party’s hands, as a result of its unleashing this virus and pandemic upon us and the rest of the world.

Mr. Jekielek: What is the position of the “Committee on the Present Danger, China” on Wuhan Coronavirus, and its origins and you know how the Chinese Communist Party was involved in it?

Mr. Gaffney: Well, I believe I speak for the committee on this. The certainly overwhelming sentiment has been pretty clear, as it has from I’m very happy to say, President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in recent days, namely that this disease emanated, of course from China, and specifically from Wuhan and that there is powerful circumstantial evidence that it came out of the Institute of Virology in Wuhan, which is … the only bio level four facility in China. It is one of the facilities associated with the Chinese Communist Party’s biological warfare program, an illegal covert program to be sure but nonetheless, one this facility apparently supports. Whether that was intentionally set forth, or whether it accidentally leaked, is something that I think we simply don’t have enough information to assess. Whether it was engineered, or whether it was more or less in the form that was found in some exotic bat species 1000 miles away from this facility. Again, we don’t have enough information to determine. But I think these are the subjects, necessarily, of investigation. I hope that’s underway. I hope that it’s being pursued with open minds and not with preordained conclusions by the intelligence community or others in our government.

But one thing is clear: The Chinese Communist Party has exploited this pandemic that it unleashed, to further their national interests at the expense of this country and the rest of the world. In that respect, I would argue it is tantamount to a biological warfare attack. Whether that’s exactly what happened, whether that was some intentionality, whether the disease was designed for this purpose or not, the cumulative effect has been to redound to the benefit of Communist China in every respect except for its reputation in the world. And that’s the good news, if there is any for all of us. It’s not just Americans who have been mugged by reality. I think a lot of people who have suffered horribly as a result of this disease have had an epiphany about the nature of the Chinese Communist Party. I think it now falls to us to try to offer them an alternative to the kind of reliance and accommodation and appeasement that was becoming so widespread in the months and years prior to this episode.

Mr. Jekielek: How is it that the Chinese Communist Party weaponized the coronavirus, whatever its origins?

Mr. Gaffney: I think they weaponized several different ways. Because they concealed from the rest of the world that there was this virus at large in China, they denied us and others the opportunity to prepare for it. In the process, they allowed numbers of Chinese—and I’ve heard all different kinds of numbers—a substantial quantity of Chinese nationals to leave the country, to come to some extent here until President Trump shut that off, and elsewhere, spreading the disease in the process. And I think Senator Tom Cotton is absolutely right in saying that was a deliberate decision, a conscious decision, and a malevolent decision. And then they use the time between when they figured it out and when the rest of the world was notified, to scarf up much of the world’s protective equipment and ventilators and other stuff, to put themselves in an advantaged position—either to have that gear for their own uses, or to sell it to the world, having essentially gotten a cornered market on it. And then in the process, of course, using propaganda to suggest that actually they weren’t selling it, they were giving it away. In short, they have tried both to inflict maximum harm on the rest of the world and to exploit as fully as they could the benefits that would flow from doing so.

Mr. Jekielek: What do you make of the reports that there’s Chinese companies kind of roaming the world looking for deals in this massive economic downturn, to buy up companies, both in the US and all over the place in the free world?

Mr. Gaffney: This has been standard operating procedure for the Chinese and their entities. They have been shrewd. For example, I believe mentioned was made of the fact that former ambassador Max Baucus, who was essentially toeing the party line is on the board of Alibaba. Alibaba, to that point, was the largest initial public offering in United States history when it came to the capital markets in the United States. It raised something on the order of $25 billion.

Much of that money was then channeled into buying up seed corn technologies in the United States. In other words, figuring out how to make us pay for their expropriation of intellectual property that they couldn’t figure out how to steal I guess, so they bought it. So this is really of a piece with how they operate. We continue to allow them to do it, that we continue to think “Look, as long as they’re spending money in this country, it really doesn’t matter what they’re buying.” This committee on the foreign investment in the United States has begun to tighten things up a bit, thankfully. But there’s still too much going out the door.

And by the way, it’s not just things like high tech, intellectual property, applied to the sorts of cutting edge areas of effort that the Chinese clearly seek to dominate, to things like quantum computing and artificial intelligence and data mining and the like—it’s things like our culture. It’s the studios that produce our movies. It’s utilizing control of what movies will have access to their market, to shape the content of our movies. It’s of course what they’re doing on our campuses to influence the next generation of this country’s leaders by essentially dictating what they can understand or learn about Communist China. It’s, of course, what they’ve been trying to do now in the context of this disease to suggest that communism is a cure for the Coronavirus.

“Use our techniques for restricting your population for controlling their movements for mining information about their health care to essentially control them.” That is another line of attack by the Chinese communists here and elsewhere around the world. [There’s] more: the Belt and Road Initiative, space dominance campaign, their military buildup. You put it all together and you realize that they couldn’t be doing any of it, certainly not much of it, if it weren’t for our financial underwriting, and it’s simply scandalous.

And it’s high time that the government of the United States make clear that at the very minimum, we have to ensure that any company that is in our capital markets—from Communist China, for that matter anywhere else, Russia, other countries—has to meet the same standards. You suggested maybe they should be a higher standard, but at the minimum, they ought to meet the same standards that American companies have to meet in terms of accountability, in terms of transparency, in terms of governance, and not least in terms of material risk. That’s the least we can do to ensure that our investors are protected against more frauds, to say nothing of more malfeasance out of these Chinese communist companies.

Mr. Jekielek: Before we finish up, the Chinese Communist Party really likes to conflate itself with the Chinese people, saying that it speaks for the Chinese people. When you criticize the party, you’re hurting the feelings of the Chinese people. This is something we were talking about with another guest recently. What are your thoughts on that?

Mr. Gaffney: Well, it’s not an accident. They called it the People’s Republic of China right? The People’s Liberation Army. This is part of the fraud that the Chinese Communist Party has perpetrated from the get-go. Now, have they, in the course of 70 or so years, made huge inroads into propagandizing or brainwashing their people to think that the party and the people are one in the same? Possibly. Have we done nearly enough to make clear that that’s not the case? Through our own dissemination of information? Assuredly not. Now, one of the great scandals…is the degree to which our government-sponsored media, specifically the Voice of America, now regards its mission as giving half of its time communicating with the Chinese people to convey Chinese Communist Party propaganda. Half of the time is, I guess, American news. The other half is just reinforcing—coming from us, no less—what the Communist Party is dictating to its people. This is simply madness.

So my point is this: I think the efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to insist that they speak for the people of China is wrong. It is a distortion, at the very least, if not just outright fraudulent. But we should do nothing to encourage the people of China to think that they should, in fact, view the Communist Party as a legitimate and desirable way of being ruled. It’s hard to believe that they feel that way, but if they don’t feel there’s any choice, it’s not unreasonable to think they conclude that, especially when we seem to be reinforcing that messaging. What’s been happening in recent years in Taiwan and Hong Kong has shown that it doesn’t have to be this way.

The people of China don’t have to be ruled in a way that denies them any freedom, that it treats them mostly cruelly. And at the very best, it gives them some minimum sustenance and housing, but at great personal cost. In fact, it’s more than possible. It’s highly desirable to have the people of China enjoy freedom. And I think they’re entitled to it and I believe that everything our government does should be geared towards maximizing their chances for it. And that brings me back to why we should stop enabling and underwriting and empowering the Chinese Communist Party through our funding of it.

Mr. Jekielek: Any final words before we finish up?

Mr. Gaffney: Just a word of appreciation for Epoch Times. I think I’ve indicated in the course of this interview, that it’s an incredibly important service that I think you’re rendering both to Americans and to the people of China. To the extent you’re able to reach into [China], you’re certainly doing a better job of reporting on what’s going on inside China than virtually anybody else. And it’s urgently needed at a time when I think there is both the opportunity in the wake of this pandemic, and the urgent necessity of revisiting the policies that we’ve been pursuing, that have brought us to this very dangerous pass with the Chinese Communist Party’s ascendancy and its belief that this is the moment when they may be able to snuff freedom certainly in places like Hong Kong and Taiwan, but quite possibly far beyond as well. So keep it up.

Mr. Jekielek: Frank, appreciate your kind of thoughtful words. Such a pleasure to have you on.

Mr. Gaffney: Thank you very much for having me. Great to talk with you.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

American Thought Leaders is an Epoch Times show available on Facebook and YouTube and The Epoch Times website.

Follow Jan on Twitter: @JanJekielek