With the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, what are the dangers of accepting official information from China as fact? And how are Chinese leaders trying to control the narrative surrounding coronavirus?
And why is associating coronavirus with the Chinese regime and Wuhan not only appropriate, but also important?
In this episode, we sit down with China watcher Maura Moynihan, an author and journalist who has worked extensively with Tibetan refugees.
This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Ms. Moynihan, so great to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Maura Moynihan: Tashi delek. It’s my pleasure to be here.
Mr. Jekielek: And of course we won’t do the handshake but that’s perfect, right? Because we’re going to be talking a bit about coronavirus.
Maura, you have been a China watcher for many decades, I mean, really from the 70s, right? We’re here in the midst of a coronavirus scare. People are panicking. We’ve had this huge outbreak that started in China. We’re seeing propaganda coming out of China, saying the US is responsible, and anyone but the Chinese Communist Party is responsible. I wanted to talk to you today about what you’ve seen over the last decades, related to how the Chinese Communist Party creates its narratives and how it relates to what we’re seeing now.
Ms. Moynihan: Well, I’ll briefly tell your audience why I got involved in this movement. I moved to India in 1973 when I was 15 years old, because my father, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: of New York, was appointed US ambassador to India by President Richard Nixon. And I was in the 10th grade at the International School and I wanted to make friends. And I’d only been in India about two weeks when I was invited on a school trip to Kulu Manali in Himachal Pradesh, right by the Tibet border. So we got into jeeps and we drove north. And I saw gangs of Tibetan road workers building what is now the Kongka highway. And they looked very frightened and they’re working very hard. And I asked my Indian hosts, what are these Tibetans doing here and they said China invaded their country. And they have taken refuge in India along with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Then when we got to the Kulu Valley, we went by the Rohtang Pass, sort of the oldest passes that linked to India and Tibet for centuries through the old salt trade. Tibetans would bring salt from their magnificent salt lakes on the high plateau, down to India to trade for spices and silk. And, of course, all those passes were sealed off after the 1959 escape of the Dalai Lama to India. And I saw young soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army clutching bayonets with the five-pointed star and the green jacket and they looked frightened. There were a great many of them, and there were also Indians further down. And some of the Tibetans that were with us said, “Okay, now you’ve seen it, we’ve got to leave immediately.” So we left, but that image is fixed in my mind.
And then in my school, there were several Tibetan refugee students. And I came to know of the genocide of the Tibetan people inflicted by the Chinese Communist occupation under Chairman Mao. And then I had another experience, a very unusual experience. When we were leaving India in 1975, George HW Bush invited my father. And my brother and I accompanied him to visit what was then called Peking. It was during the Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao was still alive. We went to Hong Kong first and we drove to what was called Canton. And then we flew to Peking. And the difference in the society between India and China was extraordinary. In India, there was a bustling middle class, there were places of worship of all kinds. There were stores, there was theater. There was a free press. There was a democracy. There were elections. In China, there were none of those things. It looked then as North Korea looks now in videos. There were no places of worship, there was no commerce, people looked poor, they looked frightened. Everybody was wearing Mao jackets that were color-coded according to your status in the society. The top Chinese Communist Party leaders all had silk Mao suits, elegantly appointed. Everyone else wore green for the army, brown for officials, and blue for workers. And outside we could see people were suffering terrible scarcity. There were long, long lines around the people’s commune. People standing in the cold—it was January—for one bag of rice. But every night we were treated to banquets fit for a Roman Emperor by Chinese Communist Party hosts.
So then we returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts for my father to resume teaching at Harvard. And I, that fall, became an undergraduate at Harvard. And one of the professors, and several of the teaching aids in my Asian seminar, said that China was a socialist miracle and Tibet was doing so much better under Mao’s wise leadership. So I wrote a paper saying that China was a police state and Tibet was an occupied country, and I was flunked. I was very angry about that. So I went to office hours. And I asked the professor why he flunked me, and he said, because you’re wrong. I said, “You know, I was just in China. Have you ever been there?” And he said, “No.” And then he got really angry with me. And he did something that would have made his CCP patrons proud. He pounded the desk and said, “It’s going to be my job to destroy you.”
Mr. Jekielek: He said that?
Ms. Moynihan: Yes, to an 18-year-old undergraduate, and I found out later that he was trying to get a visa to China, and of course, the only way to get a visa to China was to never criticize the regime. So that’s how I got started watching Communist China.
Mr. Jekielek: So, Maura, it’s incredibly fascinating that you are seeing this so early. And I think it speaks to at least one of the reasons why many of our media have been so compliant over the years with the Chinese Communist Party talking points. What information are you seeing coming out of China about coronavirus?
Ms. Moynihan: Well, there’s the Chinese Communist Party’s narrative, and then there’s the reality on the ground in China, and they’re always two completely different things. I learned this [during] my many years working for Radio Free Asia. I was the Radio Free Asia Tibet Service bureau chief in Kathmandu, Nepal, which was for many years where the Underground Railroad of refugees escaping from Tibet would get across the Everest pass. [They would] get to Kathmandu and then get to India to join the Dalai Lama. And getting news and information out of Tibet was always extremely difficult. The only place that might be harder is Xinjiang, because they’re basically police states, they’re really in total, total lockdown at all times. You don’t see the kind of freedom and commerce that you see in Shanghai or you see in Beijing in recent years in Tibet, and Tibetans also take great personal risk to record what is happening on the ground and to smuggle it out. But we were able, to some extent, to get some information and that’s what was our priority, and also to get information to the people in Tibet so that they had other alternative sources of news. What is very disturbing is that the Chinese Communist Party has gone into overdrive to promote its narrative of control. And Western media is buying it. Whereas you go on Twitter, and you’ll see that some brave netizens in China are still able to get footage of the chaos, and the death and starvation that is exploding all over China, especially Hubei province, Wuhan area. And they again, they’re two totally different narratives; they’ve always been.
It’s very alarming to see on NBC News—an anchor had a guest, an American woman who was praising the Chinese Communist Party for their tremendous control, and how they’re doing so much better than America. And they always do everything better than America. And their model of authoritarian capitalism really is something that we should learn from in our messy democracy. I’m seeing it in the New York Times I’m seeing in the Washington Post, I’m it seeing on CNN. I saw a very disturbing story where the writer said that the Trump administration appeared to blame China for the source of the coronavirus. And Secretary of State Pompeo said, no source less than the Chinese Communist Party said that the coronavirus came from Wuhan. So we’re in the midst of an election year, and it’s a very fraught partisan atmosphere. But I think it’s very dangerous for the mainstream media not to check their facts, especially when it comes to the Chinese Communist Party, and to repeat Xinhua—which is the propaganda wing of the CCP—to repeat Xinhua talking points as fact, which they’ve been doing for years. I don’t know if it’s laziness, or I don’t know if it’s like the Harvard professors who wanted to preserve access, or combination of the two. But the real story here is the normalization of the Chinese Communist Party, which has very dangerous consequences for the free world, for the whole world.
Mr. Jekielek: This normalization that you’re describing isn’t a new thing. This is something that’s been happening forever. Today, what we’re told about China is a completely different picture. Much more modern, maglev trains, everything is bustling, modern and a completely different place, right? Which is true, or is there something else?
Ms. Moynihan: Well, we were always told when the Kissinger Doctrine was established in 1972 (in the detente gamble to build up Communist China to contain the Soviet Union), that the Chinese communists are different from the old Bolsheviks of the Soviet Union. … So they look and they act like people in the West to some extent, but they have not dismantled the Chinese Communist Party. They have not dismantled their one-party totalitarian dictatorship. So they’ve proven that Coca Cola can coexist with communism.
Mr. Jekielek: Maura, what do you make of the statistics that are being touted, that coronavirus infection rates and death rates have gone down substantially in China?
Ms. Moynihan: I don’t believe them for a moment. And I think it’s reckless and irresponsible for the news media to print Xinhua propaganda as fact. You must be compromised if you’re a news organization, and you’re printing to page color ads from Xinhua and China Daily every week, which I find very disturbing. The Epoch Times is a far more reliable source of information about the Chinese Communist Party, and so are Indian and other Asian news sources. They’re far more accurate, you’ll get a very different reading, if you read the Indian press, than we will in the United States. … There’s an excellent article that was out this morning by Curtis Ellis about how Wall Street assured us that sending all of our factories to China … and making China the source of the global supply chain was a good idea. And don’t worry, after a while Coca Cola will engender democracy. Well, that hasn’t happened, has it?
And now Americans are beginning to wake up to the dangers of having China control our supply chain. Forget your iPhone—what about your medications? And there’s Rosemary Gibson, author of “China Rx,” a seminal work, and she got no attention at all. And the book came out in 2018. And I think that it’s shocking when mainstream media organizations that people look to—that people rely upon in this country for real information—printing Xinhua propaganda as fact. We’ll they’ve done it for many, many, many years.
Mr. Jekielek: Now, what about the Chinese CDC publications? Or what about academic papers coming out of China? We know that Xinhua is of course, the propaganda organ of the Chinese Communist Party, but what about this academic work?
Ms. Moynihan: How is it possible to verify any of it? You can’t. Because you’ve got millions upon millions of people in central China under quarantine. And remember in the beginning, they refused to allow American scientists and doctors access to China. They’re certainly not allowing other doctors from other agencies access to China. So how can we believe any of it? How can we verify it? We can’t.
Mr. Jekielek: We’re basically just taking the word—
Ms. Moynihan: Yes, taking the word of a communist dictatorship. And this goes back to why the Tibet story is important. Tibet is a case study in how the CCP controls the global narrative. They’ve been doing it for a very long time.
For example, I brought this to present on your show. This book is very, very hard to find: “Tibet Transformed” by Israel Epstein, who was an American. He made three trips to Tibet, and wrote one of the seminal propaganda tracks of our time—from the CCP showing the freed serfs on tractors, and how the old regime is so cruel and brutal, and how the Tibetan people have all learned to read and write Chinese and to drive motorcycles, and to grow vegetables on the high plateau, thanks to the Chinese Communist occupation. There is not one mention in here of the fact that almost 2 million Tibetans were killed in what the Chinese Communist Party called the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet, which caused the Dalai Lama to flee to India for his life when they tried to assassinate him.
And I have noticed that there was a moment where people took the Tibet story seriously. And that was after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. There was a moment where people looked at the regime and they saw the tanks roll over the bodies of the students. And they felt horror and shock. And that’s when the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize. He’d been nominated for many years, but he received it in 1989. [He was] the first individual connected to the Chinese Communist Party to receive the highest honor for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the second person was, of course, who Liu Xiaobo, who died in prison in 2017, imprisoned for the crime of counter-revolutionary thought, which is the same crime for which they arrested Dr. Li, the ophthalmologist from Wuhan was the whistleblower who alerted Beijing to this humanitarian crisis of the Wuhan virus. And what did they do? They arrested him and they forced him to write a self-confession.
Would that happen in an open society? No. In any other society, Dr. Li would have been hailed as a whistleblower, if he’d been in Japan or Indonesia, or India or Thailand or in America, or anywhere in Europe. Then they allowed the virus to go global. And they’re trying to control this narrative now, and it’s alarming to me, the ease with which Western media is taking their talking points and repeating them. But again, they’ve been working on this for a very long time.
Mr. Jekielek: We hear a lot about Xinjiang, and the concentration camps that have been developed there. It’s geographically isolated. Tibet strikes me as a similar scenario. But we don’t really hear much about Tibet, certainly the last how many years. Why do you think that is?
Ms. Moynihan: Because China has to a large extent, won on the ground, and they’ve also won outside. On the ground, the Tibetans paid an extremely high price for the uprising inside Tibet, March 14, 2008, the year of the Beijing Olympics. There was an uprising in Tibet. It wasn’t very extreme. A few Chinese shops had their windows broken, and people marched through the streets of Lhasa with the Tibetan flag. But what a fearful price the Tibetan people paid. I spent the summer of 2008 in Kathmandu interviewing people who managed to escape from Tibet into Nepal, and the stories I heard of torture would make a Nazi proud. They had the equivalent of what the Nazis used—the Einsatzgruppen; the mobile killing squads—where teams of PLA soldiers would come to villages in Tibet, make the villagers strip naked, dig a ditch, and then line them up and shoot them all one by one in layers.
And I interviewed several Tibetans who had managed to survive. They weren’t killed, and they crawled out from under this heap of bleeding bodies, and somehow made it over the Himalayas into Nepal, which is no small feat. And so after that, the Chinese took it seriously. [They said] we’ve really got to shut down the Tibet thing. Students for a Free Tibet was the only organization that was able to penetrate Beijing. And every single day [during] the two weeks of the Beijing Olympics, we had some kind of protest action, particularly a very large banner hanging on the Great Wall that said “One world, one dream: Free Tibet.” “One World, One Dream,” of course, was the slogan for the Beijing Olympics. So the communists were not going to let this pass, because the Tibetans stood up and poured blood on the face of Mao, and they spoiled this big Olympic coming-out party. And so they intensified patriotic reeducation inside Tibet.
Mr. Jekielek: What does that mean? Patriotic reeducation?
Ms. Moynihan: Patriotic reeducation is what Jiang Zemin strengthened. It’s been around since the time of Mao, but Jiang Zemin, when the Falun Gong started to have more adherents and followers than the Chinese Communist Party, he intensified patriotic reeducation, which is Maoist thought. And now it’s Xi Jinping Thought. It is the supremacy of the Chinese Communist Party—you need to sit and read the Little Red Book, and now you have to read Xi Jinping Thought again and again and again. And there are many tragic stories coming out of the Tibet concentration camp system of people weeping and crying and then being beaten to death because they just couldn’t keep going.
But back to your earlier question about why we don’t hear from Tibet so much anymore. Again, it was after the uprising in 2008. They sent a series of governors to Tibet, the most recent one Chen Quanguo, intensified and expanded the concentration camp system in Tibet, because Tibet has always been the torture laboratory for the Chinese Communist Party. Because again, like Xinjiang, it is very remote. It’s part of western China, and so very hard to get to, and very few people ever managed to get there. I have visited Tibet on several occasions, which is not so easy to do. And Mr. Chen Quanguo did such a bang-up job that in 2016, that they reposted him to Xinjiang. And so we’re hearing more about the concentration camp system there, because it’s newer.
And there was another story last week of Nike and Lacoste using slave labor of the Uighur people to manufacture their products. But where’s the outrage? If it was happening in Africa, other parts of Asia, or South America, there would be protest, there’d be people in front of embassies, but I don’t see any of that happening here. Because again, the normalization of the CCP and the integration of the CCP into our economy. It’s so frightening now that the pandemic has arrived on our shores, they’re going into action to shut down the narrative and blame America. I find it shocking when people read Chinese propaganda—the syntax, the grammar, and the words—that they can’t tell that it’s propaganda. No, seems they can’t.
Mr. Jekielek: You’ve had trouble finding work as a person who supports Tibet. Tell me about that.
Ms. Moynihan: You really can’t get things done with just volunteers. You’ve got to have some capital. And Students for a Free Tibet planned the 2008 Beijing Olympic campaign for eight years. And I helped do some fundraising for them and everyone sort of pitched in for that moment. But then the next year the funding all dried up. Richard Gere ceased to support them anymore. He’s taken over the International Campaign for Tibet, which also is not doing an effective job at all because they’re not asking for anything but peace with the Chinese. And you know, it’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not a strategy. And, to be strategic and to take on an adversary with the might, power, and the wealth of Communist China, you’ve got to have resources.
Tibet was also a very uncomfortable moral dilemma for a lot of Western policymakers because people admire the Dalai Lama. He’s the greatest living Buddhist teacher of our time. Everyone knows he’s a man of peace and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. But the Chinese started punishing people for receiving him. And the Tibet movement was pretty much destroyed in 2009, one year after the Beijing Olympics, after President Obama was sworn in and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was sworn in. The very first statement Secretary Clinton made was we will not allow things like Tibet and human rights to interfere with our close relationship with Communist China. You can find it online. And I was very upset when that statement was made. A friend of mine from the State Department who’d worked on human rights in China called me and she said, “All the hard work we’ve done for years has just been thrown under the bus.” And then very shortly after that, President Obama announced that he would not receive the Dalai Lama in The White House. And that was the fatal blow. Because it may not seem like it was so significant if you’re sitting in Washington, New York, or London, but it mattered so very much to the CCP. Why? Because [the Dalai Lama] is the face of resistance. …
Why does Tibet matter so very much to China? Because the landmass of Tibet … constitutes almost one-third of China’s landmass. Add Xinjiang and that’s almost more than half of the landmass of the PRC. And China has very lots of reasons for needing to keep a very strong hold on Xinjiang and Tibet because the world’s largest mineral deposits can be found [there]. Tibet is the source of the nine great rivers of Asia—all the water in Asia.
And so, back to my own story. I was able to, you know, get little bits of funding here and there. Refugees International funded my work for many years, but they only funded my trips to Asia. They wouldn’t fund me when I was in America. I worked at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the ’90s, which is a remarkable place and I learned a great deal. And I think it gave me a greater understanding of how police states work, how genocides happen and how concentration camp systems work. … But in recent years, I went to all the humanitarian and refugee organizations here in New York City. And I said to them, you’ve got to do something for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees. … And I was told with no shame whatsoever by Harvard-, Princeton-, and Yale-educated leaders of these organizations: “Oh, Miss Moynihan:, we can’t work with you, you’re a Tibet person and our board members have interests in China.” Now, if it was a bank telling me that, I’d understand, but these are human rights organizations, and their mission statement is plain. You just Google them and you’ll see in their mission statement, “We transcend politics. Our job is to provide humanitarian service wherever it may be.” But they don’t, especially when it concerns China, and especially where it concerns Tibet.
Mr. Jekielek: But this is also a kind of a testament to the success of the Chinese Communist Party. It’s been putting its tentacles into the global economic system, into the American system, into Wall Street, and so forth. How is that playing out vis a vis coronavirus?
Ms. Moynihan: It may be a very different story if the pandemic spreads as quickly in the United States as it has in Italy and Iran. And Angela Merkel has just said yesterday or the day before that 80% of the German population could become infected very soon. And we’re going to see just how successful the CCP spin game is going to be, and they do have a lot of people on their team. They’ve been paying people to work for Xinhua. Certainly, Mr. Israel Epstein who wrote “Tibet Transformed” was on the CCP payroll without any shame. … I think when the medicines, the medical supply, starts to run out, and people aren’t able to get heart operations, and people aren’t able to get penicillin for their children, then we may see a different story. But it’s most unfortunate this is happening in the midst of a very fractious election cycle. Because we don’t need partisanship right now. We need unity in this country.
Mr. Jekielek: So, Maura, who’s responsible for the coronavirus?
Ms. Moynihan: The Chinese Communist Party, there’s no question about it.
Mr. Jekielek: People are saying it’s racist to call it the China coronavirus, or Wuhan coronavirus.
Ms. Moynihan: Well, that’s the old line the CCP has used with great effect now, hasn’t it? For many, many years now. And no less authority than Sir Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong in his wonderful book, “East and West” has a long, long passage about how it infuriates him, that the CCP has been so effective in conflating the Chinese people with the small band of men behind that black curtain in the Politburo who rule 1.3 billion people with an iron fist, and have no elections, and have no free press. I do not consider them the legitimate leaders of the Chinese people. I consider them the tormentors of the Chinese people.
And yes, there has been more prosperity in China. Yes, more people have been lifted out of poverty. But all my Chinese friends will say that’s just because they took their jackboot off our necks after Tiananmen Square. Because Deng Xiaoping knew he had to let go of something: the economy, or the political system. He chose to open the economy but keep the political system. He also had a great deal of support from the West. You know, keeping the communist system going.
And I really want to push back hard on this thing that it’s racist to blame China. If a virus had come out of America, what do you think the Chinese Communist Party would be saying? They would be filling the airwaves with cartoons of the great Satan, Uncle Sam, in a minute and a half. And is it racist to say that it came from Wuhan, when Dr. Li said it came from Wuhan? He paid with his life for trying to alert the Chinese government and the world to a very serious health crisis that is creating a humanitarian catastrophe. No, it’s not [racist] at all.
Mr. Jekielek: We have the National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien talking about this now. We have Secretary Pompeo talking about this now—pushing back against this narrative that coronavirus comes from the US.
Ms. Moynihan: It’s what my father used to call “Stalinoid dementia.” And he said the problem with the Chinese communists is that their thinking is infected with Stalinoid dementia. And they can’t see things clearly. Everything has to be seen through the prism of maintaining the supremacy and control of the CCP. That is their priority. And I think this is laying it bare for the world to see.
Mr. Jekielek: Human life doesn’t matter.
Ms. Moynihan: Human life is cheap in a communist country. They have no problem letting a great many of their citizens die if they have the choice between [it or] maintaining control. Look what happened in Tiananmen Square. That was the last time it was on world televisions for the global audience to see. Because every day in China, there’s what they call an incident and uprising, where people are pushing back against the CCP.
Oh, here’s another point I’d like to make which isn’t getting very much coverage in the same mainstream media outlets that are now parroting CCP talking points… There is an enormous power struggle going on behind the curtain in the CCP, between the White Hands faction, and the Black Hands faction, which is sometimes called the Red Hand faction. … The White Hands faction is Xi Jinping, Wang Qishan. The Red Hands faction is Jiang Zemin, Bo Xilai, that group. And they circle around each other, these old men jockeying for power. There have already been three attempts on Xi Jinping’s life. He knows that full well, and he knows that his power is slipping if he can’t control the coronavirus. That’s another reason they’re probably lying about the numbers. “China has got it under control.” He doesn’t care about the rest of the world. He doesn’t care if the rest of the world gets affected. He cares if he loses power to the Black Hands faction. And this failure to investigate the nature of the Chinese regime, and how it operates, has put the whole world at risk, especially when our supply chain has been located there.
Mr. Jekielek: China is actually saying that the world should thank China for its great leadership on the coronavirus issue.
Ms. Moynihan: Yes, indeed. Why should we thank them for infecting the whole world? I’d like to ask a lot of these mainstream media outlets that are repeating and parroting Chinese propaganda… In the last two and a half months since the virus became known globally, … what has the White Hands faction of Xi Jinping and Wang Qishan done? They have accelerated burning and closing Buddhist temples, Christian churches, mosques. They’ve arrested Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong, and other distinguished elder citizens of Hong Kong society. And now they’re on this spin game trying to get the West to thank them. … It’s very insulting to the Chinese people who are victimized by the CCP to say that. If they really were so open and so sophisticated, they would allow international inspection, they would allow medical teams to come in, they would put a halt to the destruction of places of worship. They would work with Hong Kong, but they are doing the opposite.
Here’s another point I just like to make. Don’t think the CCP can’t win. That’s one thing I learned all my years in the Tibet movement. They won. They haven’t killed the spirit of the Tibetan people and the hope of the Tibetan people, but on the ground, they have absolutely won. And I still have a great many sources inside Tibet and European friends who still managed to get visas to go into Tibet and provide information when they come out. And they say it’s so intensely militarized. You cannot step out of line for a minute and they also have informers everywhere. They’ve won. You never hear about Tibet in the news, do you? They won’t allow diplomats to go there. They won’t allow journalists to go there unless you go with a team of CCP minders. And so, don’t think they can’t win and don’t think they won’t fight dirty to stay in power.
Mr. Jekielek: What is the reality for Tibetans right now?
Ms. Moynihan: I was at Tibet conference 12 years ago in New Delhi, with His Holiness Dalai Lama. … Tibet is a case study, and how CCP propaganda works, and how CCP control of the narrative works, and how brutal and effective they are on the ground. At that conference, I learned several things. I met this wonderful elderly Russian gentleman with a long white beard. He had been in one of Stalin’s concentration camps as a young man. He said, “Don’t think that a communist country will be defeated by the internal contradictions of their economic system, their political philosophy. Any regime that is willing to kill a great many of its own citizens to stay in power usually does, for quite a long time.”
Another thing that has haunted me from that conference was that there were two older Tibetan gentlemen there who escaped when the Dalai Lama did in 1959. … [The elder] Tibetan man said to me, we only have 10 years left before Tibetan culture is irreparably damaged and the Sinification project has succeeded. In Kathmandu, you get a lot of Chinese TV, particularly Tibetan TV, and you see Tibetans in their traditional dress doing their traditional dances, but the subtitles are all in Mandarin Chinese. A lot of this is for show, and I’m hearing from friends who’ve just recently been to Tibet that it does appear that the Sinification project has succeeded because they’ve also forced intermarriage between Tibetans and Chinese. There are only 6 million Tibetans to begin with. At least 1.5 million were killed after the Chinese Communist occupation through armed conflict. Also, Tibet was sucked into China just as the Great Leap Forward began—the Great Famine—…and so people were killed through famine and armed conflict. The Chinese Communist Party has no problem torturing a child if they find them with a plastic Dalai Lama pendant or the Tibetan flag, even if it’s on a little scrap of paper. I’ve interviewed Tibetan Buddhist nuns who were raped with electric cattle prods in a Chinese prison because they were caught saying prayers, and one of them was caught with a little photograph of the Dalai Lama.
They said most of the other women die of loss of blood from being raped with an electric cattle prod and my friends who managed to escape were able to at least bear witness. And in the early ’90s, I was living in Washington working at the Holocaust Museum. And Palden Gyatso escaped from Tibet. He was a monk who spent 33 years in the notorious Drapchi Prison in Lhasa, which I drove by on my second trip to Lhasa. And he managed to bribe a guard and smuggled torture instruments, the handcuffs with chains on them, the electric cattle prods, the knives, and so forth. He smuggled them into India, he came to Washington, and I hosted many events for him in my house in Washington, where I invited officials from the Clinton administration, from the State Department, from the Pentagon, from Congress, and from the news media. We passed the torture instruments around. I wanted people to hold them and to feel them. And they can’t say then that they didn’t know that this is the kind of regime that will torture your child for having a Tibetan flag, pin, or plastic Dali Lama image. But didn’t seem to matter enough did it?
Another mortal blow to the Tibet movement and to the larger movement of human rights in China was when President Clinton removed the sanctions that were placed on China after Tiananmen Square. He gave them permanent normal trading relations. And I got arrested in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington. It was the first time anyone had ever done an arrest scenario in front of the PRC embassy. The American cops were very nice, and very supportive. And we made the CBS Nightly News, and we did very much upset the ambassador because he wrote an angry letter to my father’s office, which I hoped he would, because that meant he was paying attention. But it didn’t seem to be enough now, did it? Because, then in 2000, President Clinton, as he was leaving the White House got China into the World Trade Organization, and the rest is history. And I urge your viewers to read Curtis Ellis’ excellent writings on how we got there and how the China price has a cost. And we’re paying it now. We’re paying it with this obfuscation of reality. When you’ve got mainstream media parroting Chinese Communist Party talking points, instead of a mass mobilization to prevent the infection of 68% of the American population. We’re arguing over this. They’re saying it’s America’s fault. We’re in the crosshairs. See, that’s exactly where they want us. They’ve got the media now exactly where they want them.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s almost comical for me to ask you this at this point in our discussion, but what I hear often is, “Well, they’re not actually really communist anymore. They may be authoritarian, but they’re not really communist. They’re capitalists, right?”
Ms. Moynihan: Well, that makes me think of a dinner I had in Hong Kong many years ago when I was working for Radio Free Asia with a Chinese friend who had been a Tiananmen student and had been tortured and managed to escape. And in those days, Hong Kong was still free. He said, “Yep, in China, today, we have the worst of capitalism and the worst of communism. What a lovely combination.” I hear that line all the time. And I find it infuriating because I want to know what you don’t understand about this picture. Anyone can pick up a laptop and just Google “Chinese Communist Party,” go to Images, you’ll see images of the CCP, the annual gathering in Zhongnanhai in Beijing, and there’s Xi Jinping presiding over thousands of people. There’s the hammer and the sickle of the old Soviet Union.
Well, I’ve heard that there’s a very swanky bar in Shanghai called the Long March Bar. Again, the normalization of the CCP. Nobody would dream of walking into a party in London, Paris in New York wearing a Hitler t-shirt. If you wear a Hitler T-shirt, you’d be asked to leave. But you walk in with a Mao t-shirt on, then you’re chic. How is that possible when he’s history’s greatest mass murder?
A Princeton study that came out about 10 years ago posited that possibly 80 million people were killed by Mao. No one knows for sure. … Another thing that I find infuriating: If they’re not really communist anymore, look how they’ve treated the students in Hong Kong last year. How much more evidence do you need? The students of Hong Kong and the protest have made it absolutely clear. They (the protesters) want what they’ve had. They want British Common Law. And the Chinese Communist Party is trying to impose Chinese Communist law upon them. What more evidence do people need?
And here’s another point I’d like to make that is very important. That goes back to the CCP’s narrative that if you criticize the CCP, you’re criticizing the Chinese people, and you’re a racist. They also have said to us for years that the Chinese people aren’t suited for democracy. They’re not ready for democracy. They never will be. … Well, the elections in Taiwan have proven them wrong. And, the brave protesters in Hong Kong have proven them wrong. And the Tibetan exiles, small though they are, created a democracy in exile. The Dalai Lama chose that is his model of governance, so that if he could ever go back to Tibet, he would have a democracy.
Mr. Jekielek: What do you see as the best-case scenario for America to do in this situation with this very transparent, aggressive messaging coming out of Communist China?
Ms. Moynihan: I think America should be as aggressive back. I think it is an act of war to say something as irresponsible and crazy like that when scientists and doctors are telling us that 60 to 80% of the global population could be infected with the Wuhan virus. And I’ll call it that because that’s what Dr. Li called it, and he paid with his life. I think that it’s unfortunate that this is happening in the midst of a fractious election cycle when things are by nature polarized, but I am very, very disappointed with the universities. I’m very, very disappointed with the news media. I am very disappointed with certain politicians, I and some business leaders. I guess they’ve been bought out… I mean, I wonder how many of them are really on the CCP payroll. I saw a whole spate of articles come out last night attacking the White House for the travel ban from Europe, and saying that it was racist. Well, if any of those people got infected with the coronavirus, I think they’d change their tune. It hasn’t really escalated here yet the way it has in Italy and in Iran. …
I think we should all come together as a nation regardless of party, religion, and gender, because the virus doesn’t care which party you vote for. It is gender-neutral. It is bipartisan and it is interfaith. And it’s coming for all of us. And I think it actually presents an opportunity to work with the Hong Kong Democrats, to work with the Tibetan activists, small though we are. To listen to the survivors of the Tiananmen Square Massacre who’ve managed to escape, and to try to leverage everything we can to weaken the Chinese Communist Party. There will be no peace on this earth until they’re gone.
And I would like to share with you another story from another Tibet conference I went to, this was 10 years ago in 2009. It was in Dharamsala, and there I met my good friend Chinjin, who had also been a Tiananmen student who managed to escape, and lives in Sydney, Australia. He told me a story that has haunted me to this day. He was 14 years old when Nixon came to China in 1972. And an elderly gentleman at his father’s dinner table began to cry, and said, “This is a catastrophe. America has come to the rescue of the Chinese Communist Party. And the Chinese people will have to pay for many more decades to come.” And he was right.
Mr. Jekielek: What do you make of the Apple Stores opening in China? Inside China, we’re being told that everything is abated. Everything’s under control. These draconian measures have worked. But, what are your thoughts based on your experience?
Ms. Moynihan: Well, it’s hardly surprising that Tim Cook would open Apple Stores because he works hand in glove with the Chinese Communist Party, doesn’t he? And he has never given any concern whatsoever to the dreadful treatment of the poor Chinese workers in the Apple factories in Shenzhen. And my friend Heather White made an excellent documentary called, “Complicit,” about the China cost to the Chinese workers who manufactured all of our Apple products. She worked very, very hard in it. And I commend her greatly for doing so. And Tim Cook, of course, has paid no heed to this whatsoever.
I think this is a great opportunity for those who care to go after the shadow government of Chimerica, Inc. There were a lot of books [saying] China’s gonna rule the 21st century. … And so the question I’d like to ask is which China are you talking about? You’re talking about the China of the CCP, are you talking about the China of the Hong Kong democrats, of the Dalai Lama’s vision? It’s all Xi Jinping’s China, because it’s all CCP money. I woke up this morning and I saw my daily US-China Business Council email, and it was packed with the mainstream media outlets that were attacking America, repeating that America is doing a terrible job. … But now I noticed some of these people are trying to change their tune a little bit, until last week, when a decision obviously came from the Politburo [saying] let’s do a very aggressive propaganda push of blaming America. So, US-China Business Council, AmCham, Shanghai, they’re all on board blaming America. Now, these are people who have passports to the United States, so they could come back here and enjoy the privileges and freedoms of the open society in which they were born and educated. But it seems to me that they’re on the side of the CCP, which means they’re not on the side of the Chinese people. Are they? I’d like to ask them.
Mr. Jekielek: And then there are places that are very skeptical of the Chinese Communist Party, even if the relationships are close, for example, Taiwan and Hong Kong, where there’s very limited coronavirus spread. What do you make of this?
Ms. Moynihan: And then countries that have a lot of Belt and Road initiative projects, we’re seeing an explosion of infections. And some of this also has to do with sex tourism and sex workers. Because a lot of places where the Chinese engineers are based have a lot of prostitution. And so it’s spreading very rapidly through prostitution. Of course, that’s a very easy gateway for transmission, because it goes to women, and then women take care of children, and then women go home and cook. And you’re seeing this in Central Asia. It hasn’t been reported very much. Certainly, you’re seeing it in Pakistan. It has also not been reported very much. And Italy took a lot of Belt and Road Initiative projects.
And just two weeks ago, they announced that there was no coronavirus in Thailand, but they’re calling it viral pneumonia. And it is spreading like wildfire through the sex tourism industry because they haven’t stopped flights from China. They’re still coming every day. And I was just on the phone this morning with an English friend who has a Thai wife, and he said that signs are going up all over to stay away from brothels, but they’re still full with Chinese men. And one official in the Thai government, just recently said that they don’t want any of these mangy farangs (foreigners) bringing the virus. Again, parroting Chinese communist propaganda.
Mr. Jekielek: Why have these countries not decided to stop travel from China?
Ms. Moynihan: The small poor countries in Asia on China’s periphery are in no position to reject anything from China. They can’t for two reasons. One, they risk military intervention from China. And all aid would immediately be cut off, and they get threatened all the time by Big Brother in Beijing. In Cambodia, the Prime Minister Hun Sen, said don’t worry, there’s no coronavirus here. No need to wear masks, and they allowed one of the infected cruise ships to dock in Phnom Penh. And a lot of the passengers on board then immediately got on flights and went elsewhere in the world, possibly super spreaders taking it all over the place.
Nepal to this day only says they have one case, which is completely impossible, because they still have flights every day, a lot of them from central China. This week, the Nepali government, which is a Maoist government, Prime Minister Oli, also said “No need to wear a mask. Everything’s fine. Xi Jinping has assured us there’s nothing to worry about.” But this week it got so bad in Nepal they canceled the Everest Run. The Everest Run is one of the biggest moneymakers for Nepal, a poor landlocked country. That shows something very serious is going on there. But still no criticism of the Big Brother in Beijing. Not allowed.
Mr. Jekielek: I think South Korea also didn’t stop flights.
Ms. Moynihan: That’s right. They couldn’t. A lot of Chinese were flying to the airport in in South Korea. It’s one of the big hub airports in Asia. And then getting into America and Europe that way. It’s really too late. It’s already spread and it was allowed to spread because of the cover up by the Chinese Communist Party. It is very important to remind people of this, and just remind people of the tragic story of Dr. Li, the hero and now the martyr. He didn’t just try to save the people of China. He was trying to protect the world. And look what happened to him. Look what they did to him. How much more proof do you need that they are still communist? They’re not communist anymore. Oh, really? They made Dr. Li sign a communist self-confession. What other country does that? Except maybe Laos and Cambodia, which have communist governments.
I’d like to close if I may. The question that I always ask people like the AmCham Shanghai Gang, and the US-China Business Council Gang and the Appeasement and the Collaborator Gang. I’d like to ask them if they ever saw any footage of the Tiananmen Square Massacre? No, they didn’t. Then I’d like to ask them what side are you on? On the side of the Tiananmen students, or on the side of the CCP? It’s pretty simple. They don’t answer. I take that to mean they’re on the side of the CCP. And I think it’s absolutely shameful that so many business leaders, political leaders, not just in the United States, but in Western Europe as well, have sided with the CCP all these years to the great detriment of the Chinese people and to the world. We will not move towards what Winston Churchill called the “broad sunlit uplands” … if we prop up the Chinese Communist Party, because the authoritarian capitalist model is not a model that is suitable for the 21st century when we’re going to have global crises of this nature. Global warming and diseases do not respect borders and nationality. And the Chinese Communist Party is trying to politicize the coronavirus now, which is typical of them. It’s hardly surprising.
So I would like to ask the appeasers and the collaborators in the West. Which side are you on? Are you on the side of Dr. Li and the Hong Kong democrats, and the Dalai Lama? Or are you on the side of Xi Jinping, Deng Xiaoping, and Chairman Mao? You can find me on Facebook, and you can give me your answer.
Mr. Jekielek: Ms. Moynihan, such a pleasure to have you.
Ms. Moynihan: It was my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me on your show Jan, you do a wonderful job.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.