WASHINGTON—Prominent national security and human rights experts have launched a new effort dedicated to educating U.S. citizens and policymakers about the threat posed by communist China.
The coalition, called the Committee on the Present Danger: China, includes former Clinton administration CIA Director R. James Woolsey, former Reagan Education Secretary William Bennett, former Trump Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), former Strategic Defense Initiative Director Ambassador Henry Cooper, and Chinese dissident and China Aid President Bob Fu.
According to the committee’s chairman, former Claremont Institute President Brian Kennedy, the initiative is a “wholly independent and nonpartisan effort to educate American citizens and policymakers about the existential threat presented by the People’s Republic of China [PRC] under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party.”
More specifically, “[its] purpose is to explain these threats, which range from the military buildup of the PRC, their active information and political warfare that targets the American people and our business, political, and media elites, their cyber warfare, and their economic warfare,” said Kennedy.
America, Kennedy said, “has not been so divided politically since the Civil War,” and its “media and half our political system have spent the last two years” pursuing allegations of Russian collusion that turned out to be baseless. He said this is “especially ridiculous when one considers the array of threats posed by the People’s Republic of China.”
The original Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) “was formed in 1950 as a bipartisan education and advocacy organization to build a national consensus behind President Truman’s policy of ‘containment’ against Soviet expansionism,” according to its official website.
In 1976, the committee reconstituted based on concerns “about strategic drift in U.S. security policy and determined to support policies intended to bring the Cold War to a successful conclusion,” according to its website.
During that time, Kennedy said, “the Soviet Union had very few economic ties with the United States.” By contrast, he pointed out, China’s ties to the United States are “extensive,” through which Americans “have transferred trillions of dollars of wealth through trade.” Red China also has “stolen and extracted” U.S. technologies, through which it has “become a First World military and economic power.”
Though this dynamic is “poorly understood, especially here in Washington,” Kennedy said he was “encouraged that the threat is understood by President Trump.”
Kennedy pointed to statements that Trump wrote 20 years ago, in his book “The America We Deserve”:
“We have to make it absolutely clear that we’re willing to trade with China, but not to trade away our principles, and that under no circumstances will we keep our market open to countries that steal from us.
“There are some things more important than profits, and one of them is our own national security.”
Trump wrote that communist China “fears freedom because it knows its survival depends on oppression. It does not respect individual rights. It is still, at heart, a collectivist society. As such it is a destabilizing force in the world, and should be viewed that way.”
An array of foreign policy, human rights, and national security experts spoke at the event on March 25 at the Reserve Officers Association headquarters, including original CPD director, former naval aviator, and Pentagon official Chet Nagle, who noted that since the original committee had closed its doors, “another existential threat to America has arisen,” namely “communist China’s plan to dominate the United States, and ultimately the entire world.”
Nagle gave the example of “Unrestricted Warfare,” a 1999 document by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, describing the approach by which a then-second-tier power like communist China could best a first-tier superpower like the United States.
According to the book’s summary, Qiao and Wang argued, “American military doctrine is typically led by technology; a new class of weapon or vehicle is developed, which allows or encourages an adjustment in strategy, [which is] a crucial weakness in the American military, and that this blind spot with regard to alternative forms [of] warfare could be effectively exploited by enemies.”
Specifically, such alternative forms of warfare might include “international policy, economic warfare, attacks on digital infrastructure and networks, and terrorism.” By this measure at least, Nagle said, the United States is already engaged in “warfare with the People’s Republic of China and it will stay that way for decades.”
Former Clinton CIA Director James Woolsey highlighted that, should a military conflict with the People’s Republic of China take place, it “won’t be as straightforward or as quick as, say, the Gulf War in 1990.” For instance, he said, it would be “perfectly easy … to launch a satellite, and if you put it in polar orbit that crosses a single place in the United States … a couple times a day,” if the satellite has a nuclear weapon in it, even a small, “Hiroshima-style” one, detonating it above the surface of earth could both “destroy our electric grid and each of our electronic devices” with the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would result.
In addition, Woolsey said, America is “almost completely unprepared to deal with” the implications of fifth-generation communications technology, known as 5G. “We have to be able to turn away Chinese domination of our internet,” he said. Through Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., the dominant Chinese telecom and electronics manufacturer, and “other paths,” the Chinese regime has “embarked very heavily on that effort. That is a loser for us in every way one can possibly lose.”
He continued, “Every purchase of Huawei materials, everything that is being done by people who have blinders on with respect to what the Chinese are going to be able to do if we don’t stop them—everyone who has blinders on better take them off.”
Biggest Organized Crime Group
Vice President of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars Lianchao Han, who also spoke at the event, argued, “The Chinese Communist regime has become the biggest threat to the United States and the free world.” According to Han, “This threat is real, and very, very serious—but many people have not realized the magnitude, and the scope, and the seriousness of this threat.”
The “engagement and appeasement advocates,” he said, “continue to push for their failed China policy.” Therefore, “it is our duty to inform and educate the American public and decision-makers” about what members of the CCP “intend to do and why they’re so dangerous.”
“Despite the deceptive cover, the CCP is nothing but the biggest evil cult, the biggest organized crime group in the world,” Han said. During its nearly 70 years in power, the CCP has “killed tens of millions of people.”
Another speaker, best-selling author and Claremont Institute senior fellow Mark Helprin, argued that Americans “have a crucial interest in preventing the hegemony to which China has always felt entitled” because “a world subject to China’s hegemony will suffer continual warfare” as well as “smothering restrictions, the model of which we have seen in Mao’s China.”
“To block Chinese hegemony and avoid open warfare, we have only one course of action,” Helprin said. This would be to concentrate on America’s strengths, specifically by putting its defenses in order first, re-gearing our economy to that task, and focusing on the “repair of our own faltering civilization.” No matter what China trade agreement Trump strikes, Helprin said, “no deal will ever correct our own deficiencies,” and a deal that would bring the PRC “into a nuclear arms control regime, we mysteriously do not seek.”
According to Helprin, “China can accomplish its first war aims,” namely clearing its vicinity of American power, by eliminating “our vulnerable bases there, none of which has sufficiently hardened aircraft … [nor] air and missile defenses sufficient to defeat a saturation attack.” Without these assets, he said, the United States “will be defeated.”
“All this, without striking the U.S. homeland.”
The distance across the Pacific is twice that across the Atlantic, Helprin said, and by “spiking the Panama Canal” by blocking it with attack submarines to deny us passage, the “Chinese would have to fight only 60 percent of our fleet.” The United States has “catastrophically truncated development of long-range air power,” and has a Navy “half the size of the Reagan Navy.”
Overall, he argued, “it is foolish, cowardly, and, in the long term, not survivable to accept that provisioning our defense is secondary to assuring our comfort.” In the peacetime years between 1940 and 2000, U.S. military spending constituted 5.7 percent of GDP, Helprin noted, while today, as during the Obama administration, that figure remains at just 3 percent.
“We sleep as a nation because we betray our ancient character,” Helprin said.