A company with ties to the Chinese Communist Party owns 130,000 acres of land in Texas—right next to America’s largest air force pilot training base.
The CEO of the company, Sun Guangxin, is a former officer in China’s People’s Liberation Army and one of the largest landowners in China’s Xinjiang province. And the land, purchased to build wind farms, actually sees little wind.
So what’s going on here?
And in other news, why should America be concerned about China’s emerging digital currency?
In this episode, we sit down with Kyle Bass, founder and principal of Hayman Capital Management and a founding member of the Committee on the Present Danger: China.
Jan Jekielek: Kyle Bass, it’s such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Kyle Bass: Thank you, Jan. Pleasure to be here.
Mr. Jekielek: Kyle, I’ve been looking through your recent testimony to the Texas Senate, and frankly, it’s hair-raising. Let me see if I’ve got this straight. You’ve got a former People’s Liberation Army general billionaire who has bought over 130,000 acres of Texan land, including a giant wind farm in an area where there isn’t particularly a lot of wind but happens to be right beside a very sensitive U.S. military installation.
Mr. Bass: Yes. First of all, it’s kind of hard to believe that we’re talking about this, and that it actually happened. But it’s already happened. I was flying down to the Devil’s River area of Texas. When you think about the Texas map, it’s the southern region of Texas where the bend is essentially, just south of where that bend is and it’s right on the U.S. border with Mexico which also, you didn’t mention, but it’s actually functionally relevant or germane to this conversation. And we’ll get to why.
But one of the other things you didn’t mention is there was a 4,000 or 5,000-foot runway there where the Chinese general is expanding it to, we think, 10,000 feet. I flew over and took pictures which I’ll happily share with you. But this is happening inside the United States, and this general is actually interfacing directly with the critical infrastructure of the United States. My view and this is my view only, not our country view yet, but my view is the reason that he bought the wind farm and wants to put up 700-foot turbines is he plugs directly into our electric grid.
Well, plugging directly into our electric grid is something that should never happen. Whether you’re a Chinese general or a North Korean general or an Iranian general or a Russian general, you should be precluded from buying property next to our busiest Air Force training base and plugging directly into our grid.
I was flying to that area of Texas and the person that picked me up at the landing strip was taking me to look at some properties out there, and he casually pointed across the front of the cab and pointed at the gate and said, “That’s where the Chinese headquarters in Texas happens to be.” And I said, “Excuse me?” I thought he was kidding, of course.
He said, “No. That’s where they’re building their main facility and the runway for their big wind farm project down here.” And I said, “Stop the car.” And he said, “No, no, no. They have cameras everywhere. They’ll come after me.” And I said, “We’re in Texas. Stop the car. No one is coming after you here.” And he was generally frightened that I forced him to stop the car in front of this gate.
The insidious nature of what’s going on, believe or not, they have photos of me standing at the gate. The name of this piece of property that is their headquarters is called the Morning Star Ranch. And if you remember in the Bible, the devil’s name is Lucifer Morning Star. And you should see the obtuse star that denotes the landmark of this ranch. Again, it’s almost made for TV fiction. You couldn’t make this up if you try.
But anyway, I investigated and realized that on a scale of 1 to 10, the wind assets in that region of the United States and Southern Texas is like between 2 and a 3 out of 10. And if you and I were investing and buying big wind turbines and wanted to put them somewhere, Jan, we’d look for two things. We would look for major wind factors. And then we’d also look for transmission equipment to be able to transmit it somewhere to sell it. We would never build a wind farm where this one is.
And so, there’s a strategic reason this general has acquired all of this land, and he did it again in an insidious way. He got a local businessman out of Lufkin, Texas to front for him and purchase all the properties. So none of the landowners knew they were selling to a Chinese general. And then in all one fell swoop, they flipped it to the general.
130,000 acres, to put that in a context, is 200 square miles. Just think about that for a second, 200 square miles of property. We have a Chinese general who owns two-thirds of the real estate in the capital of Xinjiang where the concentration camps are for the ethnic Uyghurs. And he now owns 200 square miles of Texas land between one of our most active Air Force bases and the border of the U.S. and Mexico.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m sure for everyone who’s listening, I imagine this can be very, very hard to believe. I remember in the testimony, when I read the part that his interests control two-thirds of the capital of Xinjiang’s real estate market. Can you even imagine that this person isn’t deeply, deeply connected to the Chinese Communist Party?
Mr. Bass: I mean, he has 6,000 CCP members that work for him. His two closest advisers are also ex-PLA generals. He runs 40 local branches of the CCP, grassroots branches. We’ve done some investigations into this General Sun. And again, it’s hard to believe but it’s happening.
And when you see this runway expansion, you wonder why on earth? It looks one of those runways on the islands of the South China Sea, all the islands that China claimed they would never militarize. Xi Jinping said to President Obama, “We’ll never militarize those islands.” The next thing you know, they’ve got missile batteries and fighter jets and bombers on these 10,000-foot runways.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, so tell me the significance of having such a large runway, private runway in the middle of Texas. Is it common for people to have runways like this across the country?
Mr. Bass: In remote areas of the United States, people that have large landholdings will sometimes build their own landing strips. The enormity of this particular strip is a head scratcher because you can land just about every single even very large private plane on a runway that’s 6,000 feet long or less. My pilots said that this runway looked like it was about 10,000 feet long, so it was abnormally large.
But again, why are we allowing people from China, Russia, Iran or North Korea to build runways in the United States next to our border or next to our air bases? They are 10 miles from this air base. 10 miles is nothing. Think about in an airplane traveling 600 miles an hour. How long does that it take to get to 10 miles? Literally a handful of seconds.
I think it’s relevant. I don’t know the full relevance. I truly don’t know the full relevance of the runway other than it doesn’t make any sense. But the relevance of the wind farm is again, it interfaces and plugs directly in the Texas’s power grid. Everyone is aware of what happened in January with the Texas power grid and how Texas is the only state that runs its own grid.
The United States has a purview or regulatory oversight over the rest of the grids. Texas happens to be proud of their grid, and it doesn’t want the U.S. interfering with their grid and yet, we have a Chinese PLA general plugging directly into our grid.
Now, there are plenty of instances of malware. If you look at the GAO [Government Accountability Office] report that was recently released that I included as a footnote in my testimony, we are fully certain that the Chinese, the Russians, the North Koreans, and the Iranians want to disrupt our critical infrastructure. We are certain that they want to do that and that they have the capacity to do it.
We mustn’t ever allow them to interface directly with these things, whether it is our layer one phone systems, layer one phone interconnections on the telco site, or whether it’s our waste and water treatment system, or our nuclear power systems, our nuclear power plants, or our electric grids. We just need to keep them out. It’s a basic understanding of how you protect national security.
And so it’s just fascinating to me to see how this sausage gets made: how GH America Energy got formed and how he was able to buy all these properties. He still owns these properties as we sit here today, Jan. Now, this bill went through both the House and the Senate in Texas, and they put it into context after the Senate bill testimony was heard.
I brought General [Robert] Spalding and Patrick Jenevein, who beat AVIC [Aviation Industry Corporation of China] in court, to testify with me. We passed 31-0, so we got every Republican and every Democrat to agree that this was a bad idea.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, congratulations on fostering bipartisanship in the United States, which seems to be a very, very difficult thing to do. A couple of quick questions, first, he’s a former general. Isn’t that right?
Mr. Bass: Correct.
Mr. Jekielek: Guangxin Sun?
Mr. Bass: The way that I looked at it is once you’re a PLA general, you’re always a PLA general.
Mr. Jekielek: The second question is, is that wind farm literally right now plugged into the Texas grid?
Mr. Bass: It is. It’s the Blue Hills Wind Farm.
Mr. Jekielek: And so, what is the threat of having a wind farm like this directly plugged in? How does that facilitate the types of attacks, foreign actor attacks, that you’ve been describing or potentially facilitate?
Mr. Bass: Again, you’re going to take me outside of my particular expertise which is more financial and pure national security, but the experts that I’ve interfaced with—and we’ve hired a number of different expert groups to look at this—tell me that there’s the ability to monitor traffic on the grid and also map the grid from that connection, i.e. basically see how it ebbs and flows, see how it works, observe how it works. And then they have the ability to upload malware directly into the grid so that they could shut it down at any moment.
It’s just common sense that you can’t allow a foreign actor that is definitely adversarial to our country and someone that we label as the biggest threat to the United States’ rules-based order and democracy that we see today—whether that’s a DNI report that you and I have all read or whether it’s reports from the GAO or whether we’re listening to the state department, no matter who you listen to, except for Wall Street.
Wall Street can’t wait to invest another dollar in China to try to earn some profits. And they can’t wait to do business with China because China pays us a lot to do business with them. And so, Wall Street is a different crowd. Everyone else on the national security side knows China is the biggest threat to the United States existence.
Mr. Jekielek: You mentioned a little earlier that this ranch actually abuts the Mexico border. What is the significance of that in your view?
Mr. Bass: If you think about—and by the way, this Chinese actor, Sun, has filed an application to build 700-foot tall wind turbines. Just to put that into perspective, that’s as tall as the Washington Monument. Just think about how big that is. And if you put these, they call them over-the-top transponders on top of these 700-foot turbines, you have direct line of sight into our Air Force base. You have direct line of sight to the border. You can disrupt all kinds of things.
You can also map. You can do horizon mapping. You can map within 40 miles of the over-the-top network and you can map anything that flies by or drives by perfectly. So every single airplane that we’re flying, testing, they can figure out what the performance characteristics of it are to the T. They know what our air base will look like to the T.
And when you think about fentanyl, we all know that China now runs the cartels in Mexico. China handles their money operations, and China supplies them with all the fentanyl. Ninety-five percent of all the fentanyl that comes to the United States comes from China through Mexico.
So allowing a Chinese entity to sit between our largest Air Force training base and our border just doesn’t make sense. And so, we’re looking into how on earth this even began to pass any kind of CFIUS [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] review. And we think that a new CFIUS review should be had. DOD believes so too.
Mr. Jekielek: This is absolutely fascinating and again, hair-raising as you’re fleshing out everything that connects to create this whole situation. Now, one of the things that strikes me as you’re talking about the entity list: Xiaomi, the Chinese cell phone giant, recently got delisted from the entity list in the U.S. There’s something going on here. I keep asking myself, and that has to do with the lawsuit too that was lost.
Is the US legal system ready to handle the threat from China? I mean, we still have TikTok and WeChat basically reigning free in America. I just saw that India had banned TikTok and another 58 applications. They’re clearly seeing the national security threat here. What are your thoughts?
Mr. Bass: So what China is so good at doing in the United States is exploiting every kind of crack and crevice that we have in our open society and our democracy and our rule of law. I talked with some lawyers specifically on the GME case. China paid top dollar for a great law firm, and they sued the government for putting them on the entity list. And their argument was, “Show us the evidence of our malfeasance. Show it to us.”
And you can imagine that it’s similar to the Guantanamo Bay scenario, where we have a lot of intelligence agents and forces all over the world that are, let’s just say, non-declared. And we have processes that in the U.S. court system requires due process. The reason that we must keep Guantanamo Bay open is because the last thing we want to do is expose our entire intelligence network on how we got to that conclusion, if you follow me.
If we give due process, we’re going to have to take embedded intelligence assets that might have been embedded for the last 20 or 30 years and expose them, and basically ruin their efficacy and their cover. And that’s why when President Obama said the first thing he’s going to do is close Guantanamo Bay, and then when someone explained to him why you have to leave Guantanamo Bay open, notice he never closed it.
That was one of his four pillars of being elected. I just think he was naïve and didn’t realize how the world works and how our legal system works. Obama is a very smart guy, but I don’t think he realized that we couldn’t possibly close Gitmo.
In this case, we have a lot of evidence against the Chinese and Chinese companies operating in the U.S. The last thing we want to do is give them due process. So I think that’s the schism that the U.S. attorneys are going to have to overcome, and we’re going to have to pass some new laws that allow us to just not give them due process. I know that is pretty scary, but we have a president in our terror networks, our terror investigations, and we need to treat these as terror investigations.
Mr. Jekielek: This is interesting. I think I imagined a lot of people, especially on the civil liberty side of things will take a lot of issue with what you just said because if you start here, there’s a slippery slope into other areas. And frankly, we have seen some of that slippery slope in past years. Just tell me a little more why you think that this would be appropriate in this case and how it could be kept from basically taking over the whole system.
Mr. Bass: President Obama gave a speech when he was talking specifically about this kind of right to privacy and civil liberties and all of the things that the Chinese government has actually taken away from all of their citizens. They just recently removed it from all of the citizens of Hong Kong, but we don’t seem to be too worried about that as a country, and as a populace.
Obama said in a speech one day, he said, “You can either have a 100% privacy or a 100% security. You decide which one you want, and you can’t have both.” And he’s right to a certain extent. It’s about leadership, but it’s about trust in leadership. And if you think about the way that the Patriot Act is now handled in a way that the FBI obtains warrants, they have to go to a federal judge in a confidential meeting, and they have to say, “Here’s all the data we’ve got. We want to institute a bug or a surveillance team on this group of people and here’s why.”
And we can’t have this hearing publicly. But you need to listen to our evidence and decide if we’re right or wrong that this warrant is breaking someone’s privacy. And we can set up some sort of process there where there are multiple arbitrators of the situation that it still adheres to the basic, I think, rules of our constitution and our Bill of Rights.
Look, I’m all for that. And I realize that, yes, there is going to be corruption in the system or this or that. But basically, I believe the U.S. legal system works and our rule of law works in general.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m speaking specifically because we have seen that specific system abused in recent times, and so this is something that people are concerned with. I think what you’re speaking to, though, highlights the difficulty of dealing with the Chinese Communist Party threat and how they basically, like you said, look through all these nooks and crevices for any possible way to kind of co-opt the system to get around it.
To me, from reporting that we’ve done and frankly things we have talked about, we know that TikTok is a giant intelligence-gathering apparatus. Frankly, everybody seems to know that Facebook is that too, but Facebook isn’t directly connected with a regime that seeks to basically subvert America.
Mr. Bass: Yeah, and TikTok is more insidious in my view, Jan. It is front and center with our youth. I’m sure you don’t sit on TikTok for four or five hours a day. When kids get on it, they love it. They get to see their friends doing crazy dances and this and that. But the most insidious thing about TikTok is it’s there and it’s interfacing with our children for hours a day, and it’s all driven by algorithms.
And basically over time, the CCP can change those algorithms and program the kids. It can send to their feed videos that they supposedly would be seeing and yet, they can be programming the way that they think over a long period of time. And I think that is again deeply, deeply problematic, troublesome, and we shouldn’t allow that to happen. Again, no one can think that’s a good idea.
For some reason, the foreign actors and foreign governments again demand to have due process in the U.S. and so with due process, again, it’s hard to prove that that’s what they’re doing, but from a national security perspective, as leadership in our country says, “You know, we’re just not even going to allow that possibility to exist,” that’s where we have to get with this, and it has to be all kind of under a national security umbrella and we should be able to deter or eliminate foreign actors from our conversations.
Mr. Jekielek: This a regime that is known, documented, to be committing genocide in at least one instance and massive forced labor, use of people, a regime that supports the lucrative, lucrative murder for organs industry, worth billions of dollars. And we have to prove that they would send bad messaging to try to co-opt our children. That does sound problematic to me.
Mr. Bass: It is. Again, Jan, if you just use basic logic and basic leadership, this requires leadership. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. It just requires leadership. And the one place where I’ve seen at the state level and the national level in the last, call it, four years, there’s only one place where I’ve seen bipartisanship agreement, and it is actually on human rights issues. It really has focused on that.
We saw the Hong Kong Human Rights Democracy Act passed unanimously in the House and the Senate. That was interesting. I’ve never seen anything passed unanimously in the House and the Senate. And the same goes for this Xinjiang problem in Texas. That passed the Texas Senate 31-0. So there is a place where we all agree that something is wrong, and we need to continue to focus on these issues and defend our national security—both the imminent threat that’s right here, right now, today, and the one where China is building a threat over a very long period of time by programming our youth. I mean, it’s just all crazy that we’re letting this happen.
Mr. Jekielek: Kyle, we were talking about how the legal system has trouble dealing with the China threat. Just briefly tell me the specific Texas bill that you were supporting that passed unanimously. What does it do?
Mr. Bass: It passed in the House and the Senate. It’s in conference now. And I’ll tell you a little wrinkle that’s happened that you and I haven’t discussed yet as far as there’s only one lobbying group lobbying to put something in the bill that really lessens its impact, and it’s a telecom company here in the United States.
The bill is called the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act. What it does is it disallows direct interfacing with Texas critical infrastructure groups that are known to be bad actors to the United States, and it’s defined by the governor of the state. And that definition today is Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China. So companies and individuals in their proxies from those four regions of the world or those four countries may not directly interface with what we deem to be critical infrastructure. That includes the electric grid, the telco systems, waste and water treatment, and nuclear facilities.
I mean again, this is pretty basic. And so it passed both. It’s in conference. I think it’s about to be finalized here literally. It has to be finalized in the next week.
And AT&T showed up with their lobbyist, and they wanted the word knowingly put into the law, i.e. you have to knowingly have one of those bad actors in your system. They want to be able to engage in the Ken Lay or Sergeant Schultz defense: “I know nothing.” And so, knowingly, it was put in there and I’m fairly certain you’re going to see in the conference they’re going to—they put it in there just to shut AT&T up, but I can tell you I’m fairly certain that word is going to come out.
Mr. Jekielek: Kyle, before we finish up, I want to talk a little bit about something that frankly we should have a whole episode on at some point, which is this huge effort by the Chinese Communist Party to develop a digital currency. This has been happening for eight years now. There’s a great op-ed in it by Bonnie Glick and Erik Bethel that explains some of the issues around this. This is something that you’ve been very focused on as well.
Briefly tell me, digital currency seems to be the wave of the future. Frankly, I’ve also heard that Bitcoin has been co-opted to some extent by China. I’d love to get your opinion on that. But before we even do that, let’s jump into digital currency and state digital currency controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. What’s the issue?
Mr. Bass: This is a much longer discussion, but we’ll go through the cliff notes version. So, 80 percent of the world’s central banks are at some stage of investigation or roll-out of their own central bank digital currency. And China is leading. They’ve been working on this for eight years.
When you think about the way China operates today in the world, no one trusts their government; no one trusts their currency. According to SWIFT which is kind of the global authority on cross-border currency settlement, according the SWIFT, 1.8 percent of global cross-border settlement happens in the RMB today, the Chinese currency.
And if you peel back the layers of that onion, what you’ll know is almost the entire 1.8 percent happens in Hong Kong. And so it’s China trading with itself, if you follow me. So in the end, no one trusts China. No one wants their currency. It’s too opaque. We all know that they print currency like it’s the national pastime, even more than the ECB [European Central Bank] and the Federal Reserve, believe it or not.
But their desire to control their people—we all know they have social credit scores in China. If you were a Chinese national and you were to say something negative about the financial system, you were to say something negative about Xi Jinping or Wang Qishan or any of these other folks there, they can immediately turn you off and say, “Well, you can’t buy a bus ticket anymore. You can’t buy a plane ticket. Sorry, you can’t leave China. No more exit visas. You’re going to be punished. And by the way, if any of your friends interface with you, they’ll be punished too.”
So, they can literally turn you into kind of a Chinese leper overnight, if you say one thing that’s out of line. I mean it’s the most Orwellian dystopia. I don’t think you could come up with anything worse than that in a society.
And so that authoritarianism that they exercise over their own people is something that is abhorrent. And as we know, they have been accused of committing crimes against humanity and genocide in Xinjiang both by the last administration and the current administration against spanning political parties. We all agree that this is what’s happening over there.
And so if they launch a digital currency, I call it the digital Trojan horse. They can export their digital authoritarianism to me, to you, to everyone that takes this currency around the world. If you were to [upset them], they will know where that currency sits in your account. They will know your spending proclivities. They will know your social security number, your birthday, all of your vital data that kind of identify you as that account holder. And they will also know how you spend it.
They will be able to map you as a person. As a foreign adversary, they’ll know so much about, let’s say, the U.S. and the west or the rules-based order world and how they spend money and where their weaknesses are. If they spend money frivolously or, let’s say, they have issues with their gender status or their proclivities on the sexual side, we all know what the Chinese look for, how the MSS [Ministry of State Security] looks for the BGY [Blue, Gold, Yellow or Internet, Money, Sex]. I don’t know if we want to get into this, but this is how they operate. And then they exploit those weaknesses.
So, why would we ever allow China to export its digital authoritarianism to the rest of the world? That’s what they’re doing with this digital currency. I know how China how will play the game. They’ll say, “We’re 15 percent of global GDP. We have the right to have some of our currency in the world just like the U.S. is the dominant currency in the world. Shouldn’t the world just be more open to kind of a multi-lateral currency system?”
And everyone at the World Bank, which China controls, and all of the white papers that’’ll get written by U.S. institutions and U.S. professors will say, “China deserves its rightful place in the world with its currency.” That’s how they’re going to get it done.
I view it not only as a digital Trojan horse but as a cancer that we will not be able to rid ourselves of. I think that, this is going to sound hyperbolic, but it should be banned. You can’t just have a little bit of cancer in your body. You either have it or you don’t. And so I believe China’s CBDC [Central Bank Digital Currency] is the largest threat to the rules-based order in the west that we’ve ever faced.
Mr. Jekielek: I mean, it’s a huge thing to say. And frankly, one of the things that had me almost up at night here was this thought that China actually has a stronghold over many nations in the world where they’ve kind of basically used, I guess it’s a kind of loan sharking of sorts to basically co-opt numerous companies where they could actually force those countries to adopt the system in order to not have to pay, so to speak. I don’t know if I’ve made myself fully clear here. Does this make sense to you?
Mr. Bass: Yes. I think that’s way that China is going to roll us out, Jan, and you’ve hit right on it. The Belt and Road Initiative is China’s way of loan sharking and co-opting its way into huge national resource piles or strategic assets, like the port in Indonesia that didn’t need to be built. But China wants a deep water port for its navy at some point in time. It makes loans that they know can’t be repaid and they foreclose on the loans.
And then they have this asset that, “Oh wow, there’s this deep water port in Indonesia that maybe we can even park our military ships in.” That’s how this happens. It’s under a kind of a different guise. It’s under a commercial guise when it’s really a military guise.
But I think the Belt and Road Initiative is something where China can immediately just require payment. Payments are going to be made in dollars because China desperately needs dollars but they want those dollars to buy the CBDC so China never has to pay dollars out if they don’t want to. So, they can force the CBDC adoption amongst any of those predatory loans that they make for the Belt and Road Initiative.
And then the next thing they’re going to do, I mean, it’s just so easy to see what they’re going to do. They’re going to say, “Anyone that wants to trade with China and anyone that wants to invest in China is going to have to do it digitally.” And do it in their central bank digital currency, which means there’s going to be a major influx of dollars, euros, yen and pounds into China and they’ll “keep it in safekeeping” in their central bank, but you’ll never be able to get it back. And you’ll have their CBDC and then they’ve got you.
And so it’s something that we need to fight tooth and nail. I know that the various government cabinet level positions in the U.S. are aware of this. The good news is our agencies, our cabinet level positions realize this is one of the biggest threats that we face and have been focused on this as long as China has been talking about rolling it out, so that’s positive news.
The negative news is, as you can imagine, it’s going to be really easy for Wall Street to get on their planes and fly to K Street, to fly to Pennsylvania Avenue and explain how this is going to be a great idea, and don’t worry about the hawks, these hawkish people that are so negative on China. This is good for the world. And again, I can see both sides and how this is going to play out, Jan. Unfortunately, I think China is going to be able to roll this out. I don’t think we’re going to be able to stop it.
Mr. Jekielek: Let me kind of reiterate to our audience, or maybe get you partially to do this, what we’re talking about. You’re talking about how the social credit system works in China. Basically, you get points for doing things the regime likes and you get points taken away for doing things the regime doesn’t like.
And you do that yourself because you know that your phone and all the cameras around you are watching. Now, you plug the entire currency system every transaction you ever make and you’re like into this. What does that look like, really? Is this something we want?
Mr. Bass: Again, you and I could sit together in front of a Senate panel and say, “Who thinks this is a good idea?” And they’d all look at each other and say, “Well, none of us really think that’s a good idea.” Then they would say, “But Ray Dalio says interfacing with China is a great idea,” because he has $6 billion investment with them and he’s making a lot of money on them. And Fink thinks that China is his number one expansion opportunity.
And Mike Bloomberg? Bloomberg loves China. He says Xi Jinping is not a dictator and that he’s misunderstood. But what China is so good at is taking billionaires and making them richer and making them cheerleaders. And they give them selective access to their markets for them to become evangelical about the positive attributes of doing business with such a regime.
And all of these people close their eyes to what happened last time, what happened to “never again” after the holocaust? They’re interfacing and doing business directly with a regime that’s coming genocide. That’s live organ harvesting from Uyghurs, from Falun Gong, from the Mongolians and yet no one sees them for that, and they want to do business with them. It makes no sense at all to me, but China is so good at propaganda. They spend billions and billions and billions of dollars on propaganda every year, and the U.S. doesn’t have a propaganda department.
Think about this, Jan, there are four wars we can be fighting with China and the first one, of course, is the obvious one, the kinetic war where the U.S. has the best war department in the world, for sure. The second one is the cyber war. So, we’re not fighting a kinetic war with them. Hopefully, we never will. The second one is a cyber war where arguably the U.S. has amongst the top three cyber war departments in the world. We’ve been fighting that war with China since they ascended the WTO for 20 years.
The third war is the propaganda/information war. We don’t have that war department. We don’t do anything about propaganda. Now, I think the Secretary of State’s office does a pretty good job. Both Pompeo and Blinken have done a good job expanding their ideas and our values and explaining how bad actors around the world are acting. But that pales in size, scope and scale to what China does where they infiltrate our social media networks, and they just hammer, and hammer, and hammer on whatever idea they want ingrained in our belief systems.
They also pay for ads in newspapers, and they get newspapers and news where Bloomberg can’t possibly write a negative article about China. Every article they write is basically approved by the Chinese Communist Party. So, the propaganda department, propaganda war is a big one. As you know, we live in a post-truth world. Whoever can craft the best narrative wins, and China is really good at twisting those narratives and co-opting those that they want to co-opt.
And the fourth war we can be fighting with them is the economic war. We’ve been fighting that war with them since 2001, and we don’t have an economic war department. We handle the economic attacks from China. Some go to the U.S. trade rep. Some go to the commerce department. Some go to the state department. Some go to the treasury. And we kind of handled those like fly balls in a baseball game. We have no plan. We have no war department and yet they have been fighting that war intensely for 20 years against us.
So, the two wars that we need war departments for are the propaganda war and the economic war. And I hope we realize that at some point in time.
Mr. Jekielek: Kyle, just one quick thing. You mentioned that Bloomberg articles basically need to be approved by the Chinese regime. Can you clarify what you mean by that? I don’t think you’re saying that they actually need to be approved.
Mr. Bass: No, I’m not actually saying that. I’m saying if you remember when Bloomberg wrote actually the amazing and deeply investigative piece on Bo Xilai and the Princelings and the factions of the Chinese Communist Party, Bloomberg got turned off in China. They were very upset about that. And so, Bloomberg has gone over to meet with the Interior Minister of China and the Central Communist Party of China. Now, China is their biggest expansion area.
What I’m saying is implicitly if Bloomberg were to write something China didn’t like, China would just turn them off. You know how it works over there. So, what I’m saying is implicitly, Bloomberg can’t be critical of China or they lose their largest business opportunity. So, every article they write, they look at it as a lens with “Is this going to upset China? Is this going to upset Xi Jinping? Is this maybe counter to Xi Jinping’s thought? Is this too critical of what they’re doing? So we won’t write it.” My view is everything that they do is censored by China.
Mr. Jekielek: Kyle, it’s a terrible, terrible reality to live in. And thankfully over the last, I guess five or so years, we have seen a shift in reporting on China. And frankly, there is a lot more on this reporting on China and this is something I’ve been very heartened by. Any final thoughts before we finish up the interview?
Mr. Bass: Yeah. I think you do a hell of a job on this. I think that The Epoch Times does a great job on reporting truth. Some people hold you out to be a right wing newspaper. I hold you out to be down the center and just be honest. And that’s what we need, more honest, unfiltered reporting. And so for what it’s worth, there are a few outlets out there that when I read something, I think I’m reading the truth. And from you, I commend you for doing that, and it’s not just because we’re friends.
I’ll give you funny anecdote here. Once a week, The Epoch Times hits my front doorstep, the print version. I’m still old school. I like holding the newspaper. My wife, of course, is coastal Democrat and subscribed to The New York Times. Sometimes, The Epoch Times is sitting on top of The New York Times, which I find to be particularly funny. And other times, the converse is true, but those are the only two newspapers that come to this house.
And I think we need more truth in reporting. For The New York Times to run the story it ran, I know I’m going to kind of gate this interview. But two days ago, they ran a story about how Apple has basically compromised itself with the Chinese Communist Party. That was actually a pretty big step for The New York Times to take, and I commend them for doing so, and basically saying that Tim Cook is turning over all the data and adhering to all Chinese Communist Party rules. And basically, again, here is Tim Cook dealing directly with a regime that is committing genocide and crimes against humanity.
It’s kind of hard to believe that a gay woke man supposedly is only woke when it suits his wallet. And if it doesn’t suit his wallet, he turns the wokeism off. We just need to expose them for their duality or their own inner schisms and conflicts of interest. It’s just crazy that people like Apple and Nike and the NBA, the list goes on and on and on of people that just close their eyes and do the business.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Kyle Bass, it’s such a pleasure to have you on again. And thank you for the kind words.
Mr. Bass: Hey, thank you. It’s a pleasure, Jan.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Subscribe to the American Thought Leaders mailing list so you never miss an episode.