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VIDEO: Bill Gertz: Leaked Database Suggests Widespread CCP Infiltration; China Silencing Hong Kong Activists

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A leaked database of 2 million Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members suggests widespread CCP infiltration into the upper echelons of government and the private sector. The Big Four auditors collectively employ over 2000 Chinese Communist Party members, including at least one partner at each firm, according to the Telegraph. This could mean the Chinese Communist Party has access to some of the inner workings of virtually every major U.S. firm.

In this episode, we sit down with China analyst Bill Gertz, a national security correspondent for The Washington Times and author of “Deceiving the Sky.” We discuss the leaked database, recent revelations of a suspected CCP spy, Fang Fang, developing close ties with prominent U.S. politicians, and Hong Kong authorities targetting pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai with the National Security Law.

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

Jan Jekielek: Bill Gertz, so great to have you back on American Thought Leaders.

Bill Gertz: Great to be here.

Mr. Jekielek: So Bill, you’re the national security correspondent with the Washington Times. And you’re the author of an amazing book, which I’ve been recommending to people often, called “Deceiving the Sky,” about what the Chinese Communist Party has been up to over these past years, especially in America. And there’s been an awful lot of Deceiving the Sky that’s been revealed in recent weeks.

Specifically, what I wanted to talk about first is this giant database of about 2 million entries of Chinese Communist Party members embedded in all sorts of organizations. We see this recent Telegraph article, there’s hundreds of them in the Big Four accounting firms, multinational banks, embassies, and consulates. Tell me what you’re thinking about all this?

Mr. Gertz: Well, this is very significant. This is a leak from inside the Chinese Communist Party, which identified not just membership in the party, but the places where these members have been squirreled away, so to speak, including a lot of corporations and government officials.

Now, five or six years ago this wouldn’t be surprising, because at that point the governments around the world, led by the United States, began highlighting the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party. So it was kind of dismissed. In fact, I’ve had people in the past tell me, “I’ve done business in China for 20 years, and I’ve never met a communist.”  When, in fact, it is a deeply embedded Marxist-Leninist system with Chinese characteristics, as they like to say.

And I think It’s important to understand that membership in the Chinese Communist Party makes those people devoted not to the nation of China or to the people of China, but to the political party of the CCP [Chinese Communist Party]. And they definitely can be tasked to do any task that the party wants, whether that’s collecting intelligence, suborning foreign officials, and gathering information that could be useful for government and party agencies.

So it’s very important that these have been identified. I think that intelligence services around the world are now going to be able to take a look at a lot of these people and find out how many of them are spies, how many of them are operating on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security and the like.

But I think the important thing is that in the last few years we’ve recognized the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party, and that’s really important. Now we can start unraveling some of their networks.

Mr. Jekielek: One of the commentaries that I heard, which I think both you and I won’t find serious but people are thinking this sort of thing; they’re saying, “So yes, they’re part of a political party, what’s the big deal?”

Mr. Gertz: It’s not just a political party. It’s an ideological drive, as I say in my book, to basically take over the world. The Chinese are doing that systematically. Again, we’re having a vigorous debate on the nature of the Chinese communist system. I think people have tried to minimize it, play it down. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been the most significant in making the point that the Chinese Communist Party has tried to co-opt the entire Chinese history and culture as if there is no difference.

I think this is important to understand that this is really a party that’s very similar to the Soviet Communist Party. And again, people have tried to say, “Well, they’re not really communists, they like to trade, they like to make money.” But when you look closely, every leader since Mao Tse-tung in China has orchestrated a massive capitalist conspiracy against China.

So they see themselves as besieged by the capitalist world, they see themselves as, basically, at ideological war with a non-communist world. They can make concessions, they can be practical in certain terms, but there is this ideological war and we need to start waging that war. This has been a war that’s been waged by one side, the Chinese side, and now the West, the free world, needs to wake up and start fighting back against the Chinese Communist Party.

Mr. Jekielek: One of the things in this recent Telegraph article is that they’ve been mining this database as a number of entities are, like us, of course. They found that there’s at least one partner that’s a Communist Party member in each of those Big Four accounting firms that audit every major multinational corporation, to the best of my knowledge. What is the significance of that?

Mr. Gertz: Well, it allows for inside access to very, very valuable and sensitive information that can be used. If the Chinese Communist Party has someone inside of a major financial firm, that’s really gold in terms of the party. Say if they wanted to manipulate that company’s information; they could do that in ways that would benefit certain companies—Chinese companies that are listed on various stock exchanges.

This is a big issue right now. The President [has] on his desk, waiting for either signature or veto, a bill that would basically force Chinese companies listed on U.S. capital markets to divest unless they agree to Western accounting practices.

So we know it’s almost like a mafia kind of system, the Communist Party, and they can use information that they gain from inside of companies, or inside of foreign governments. They know how to put all of this together. It’s not disparate pieces of information, they have major plans in place.

For example, the “Made in China 2025,” which has directed the entire nation to allow China to lead in the high tech areas, whether it’s rare earth minerals, that’s one area, and computer microchips, things like that.

So getting someone inside who can provide this information to the Communist Party, they can then use that and exploit that in ways that will benefit them and harm what they regard as their adversaries, which is the rest of the non-communist world.

Mr. Jekielek: Bill, you make an interesting point about how there’s this collection, not necessarily a massive collection by every individual, but all of these different pieces of information go to a central point. I’m wondering if you could speak to how CCP intelligence collection differs from what we typically think of as collection in the West?

Mr. Gertz: In the West, in the United States in particular, they’ve developed this myth—especially within the US intelligence and counterintelligence community—that they call “the grains of sand theory.” That is that Chinese nationals, especially party members, diplomats, intelligence service personnel and business people, are all collectors of information. They go out and they get these grains of sand of information.

But the argument was that they have been unable to integrate all of that disparate information into a coherent picture. I disagree with that strongly. I think that they do have a very centralized system that can take that information and utilize it. Certainly, some sectors may not be communicating clearly with other Chinese collectors, but they are able to use it.

I highlight this in my book, “Deceiving the Sky,” when I talk about cyber-espionage in the case of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army hacker named Su Bin. He was based in Canada. He was able to, for a total of about $340,000, steal about $3 billion worth of technology from the Boeing Company related to the C-17 military transport. This is the real workhorse of the American military. It’s the key to expeditionary warfare, which is an American specialty.

Now the Chinese not only were able to steal that information about the C-17, they actually very rapidly applied it to their Y-20 transport, which looks very similar to the C-17. And just recently, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China put out a report and said they’ve only got 10 of these transports. But in a sign of how much China is expanding its military forces, they plan to have 400 of these Y-20 transports in the coming decades.

So clearly, China is on the march around the world and they are spying at a fantastic rate and able to use the information—not just to gather it, but to put it into practice.

Mr. Jekielek: There’s also evidence of these Communist Party members actually within consulates and also American consulates and embassies. I believe it’s consulates, just to be clear. What does that actually mean? We know a little bit from what you’ve said, but what are the implications of it actually being in these US government missions?

Mr. Gertz: Well, that’s not a surprise. They call them foreign national employees inside embassies. This confirms what many suspected, that the foreign nationals are granted this extraordinary access to be allowed to work. They rely on foreign employees in their embassies and consulates around the world. And they’re assumed to be working for the intelligence service of China.

But now, I think that they’ve been able to identify these employees. The way it’s been done is you can go through the list, and then you can go and get the diplomatic list at the various embassies and consulates, and you can see, in the case of Shanghai, there were several of these Communist Party members that are employed by the US consulate in Shanghai. The consulate has acknowledged that they recognize it as a concern.

The question then is, will this lead to the State Department taking the decision?—”Hey, we’re not going to allow Chinese Communist Party members to be employed at the embassies and consulates.” We’ll see how that plays out. A lot of these foreign missions rely heavily on their foreign employees to get a lot of things done, but we’ll see how that plays out.

Mr. Jekielek: This is just such a giant database. It’s over 2 million entries, from what I understand. It’s about 1.05 million entries when they’re deduplicated. So there’s going to be a lot of mining of this data to be done by a lot of different people. What types of information are most interesting to you from there? Maybe you can give a hint to some budding researchers here?

Mr. Gertz: I think the way to look at it … Well, first of all, there’s 93 million people in the Chinese Communist Party. So this is a relatively small percentage of their party membership. But I think what’s significant is that it will allow people, researchers, and investigative reporters like myself, to begin to trace some of the patterns of employment and penetrations by these places that then can be used to go and analyze how other sectors that we don’t have lists for are penetrated by Chinese officials. This is an area of a very important focus.

I think the State Department under Pompeo has not gotten to the point where they want to. But they have already restricted entry into the United States by Chinese Communist Party officials, recognizing that they pose a threat, whether it’s an intelligence threat or a malign-influence threat.

It will also help to really expose the corruption within China, because a lot of the so-called princelings—the offspring of top party officials—they not only come to the United States, they park their money here. They send their children here to universities, they drive around in Lamborghinis, and some of them even managed to get a U.S. passport. So under the Chinese communist system, this is a major no, no.

We can begin to start looking at identifying some of the Chinese Communist Party efforts to exploit the free and open system that we have. If we go to a system of reciprocity, the first thing that should be done would be to cut off the access of those people, unless China grants similar access to Americans in China. Unless that happens, I think all of the Chinese party members should be expelled from the United States.

Mr. Jekielek: I want to take a little bit of an aside here. You just mentioned this fascinating phenomenon that the Communist Party elite, not just the Communist Party itself, but the Communist Party elite, many of them we know have actually offshored a lot of their money which, as you said. “It’s a big no, no.” I think it’s even officially punishable by death, possibly. I don’t know what the current state of that law is. Can you speak to that before we go on please?

Mr. Gertz: Corruption in China is extensive and rampant. It’s a key feature of the party system since the 70’s when they did their so-called reform and opening up. It inspired massive amounts of corruption, financial corruption at many, many different levels. Xi Jinping has supposedly cracked down on corruption. But he’s used that basically as a front for going after his political opponents.

So the corruption system—this is something that I have not seen a single American think tank, or the US government for that matter, produce any kind of report on how corruption among the Chinese elite works, and how it plays out. That’s certainly something that every American should be aware of, so we know what kind of system we’re dealing with and what kind of people that we’ve been dealing with, in the case of the Chinese party elite.

They do have lots of their money here. They put it into real estate, they put it into offshore accounts. I think we got a taste of this when the Panama Papers broke, and they showed how some of the Chinese elite [work.] It’s very difficult to track this down because often what the Chinese Communist members do is they don’t use their own names, they use their offspring’s or their spouse’s, and that way they hide it.

I think the U.S. intelligence community should be tasked with going after this information and revealing it to our policymakers and ultimately to the general public.

Mr. Jekielek: Let’s jump to talking about these recent revelations in this recent Axios report of spying within one particular sector, which is of course among U.S. politicians. I know you’ve been following the story of Christine Fang—or Fang Fang, her Chinese name—an alleged Chinese spy. There’s a U.S. congressmen involved and there’s all sorts of lower level politicians involved. Can you give me a thumbnail of what happened here?

Mr. Gertz: Sure. It’s a classic case of what counter intelligence officials and experts call a farming operation. That is, you send a young officer or intelligence agent to the United States. In this case, Fang Fang came to the San Francisco Bay Area. As a student, she went to college, joined the Chinese Student and Scholar Association, and she used that position to begin reaching out to up-and-coming political figures, the most important of which was Representative Eric Swalwell. He was a local councilman in the Bay Area and won a surprise victory in 2012 to Congress. She picked out a couple of other members of Congress as well, that also tried to offer assistance.

It’s a classic case of how to compromise a senior official and they struck paydirt in the case of Eric Swalwell. He went to Congress; within two years was placed on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Fang Fang, the suspected agent, was suspected of being connected to the Ministry of State Security. The FBI was able to track her to meetings with San Francisco Chinese Consulate officials. In the FBI, they used to call that a clue, and that launched this investigation into her activities.

This thing went on for a number of years, to the point where Fang Fang was able to begin doing bundling work for Swalwell. That’s basically political fundraising for his re-election campaign in 2014. This is extremely valuable information. As I mentioned earlier, that allowed her access to who is funding, who is providing donations, and it also would be a way that they could covertly provide funding and therefore build up his ability to get re-elected.

Swalwell ran for President of the United States for a very short time. So this is a really big deal, and again, the Democrats have run for cover. The New York Times has not written a single story about this very significant compromise by a Chinese agent. It’s very similar to what happened back in the 90s, when the Chinese began covertly funding the re-election campaign of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. That was eventually exposed in the newspaper and led to a major investigation.

But again, because it was the Democrats, it was largely played down and ignored. A few people went to prison, but not much was made of it. In the case of Swalwell, there are a lot of unanswered questions. All Swalwell has said is that he did nothing wrong and that he cooperated with the FBI in the investigation. Nancy Pelosi said she had no concerns, that’s the Speaker of the House. But Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader in the House said, clearly, Eric Swalwell was compromised and should be taken off the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

We should be hearing from the intelligence community that they are looking at a damage assessment. If secrets were not compromised, as Swalwell claims, what was the influence part of it?

In one of my recent Washington Times columns I went back and looked at his statements in open hearings of the House Intelligence Committee where at one point he challenged a homeland security official who argued that China was influencing the American elections at the same level as Russia. And it was his view that this was completely wrong and unsupported by intelligence. Of course, clearly, he was downplaying the China aspect.

This is the kind of influence that needs to be investigated—to see how were a politician’s views influenced by having a Chinese agent close to him. And then of course there’s the question of whether or not they had intimate relations. Swalwell staff is on record of saying that they can’t discuss something like that because it’s classified information. Well, I think we need to get a full accounting of what happened here, and It would be instructive for other members of Congress to learn how it happened.

Just last week, the Director of National Intelligence went on record in the Wall Street Journal, and he said that China had launched a major influence operation against more than a dozen members of Congress. He didn’t provide any other details, but clearly he was probably referring to the Swalwell case in that instance,

Mr. Jekielek: This is really interesting. I also know of numerous cases like you just described, Bill, where Chinese suspected assets go after relatively lower level officials with the hope that, as you described, it will strike pay dirt at one point. It also begets the question of how common is this sort of farming, as you describe it?

Mr. Gertz: That’s also a very good question. Because China for so many years was treated as a quasi-ally of the United States, these types of things were, first of all, within the intelligence and counterintelligence community, they weren’t made a priority. It was only during the Trump administration that the focus on China—both espionage, intelligence gathering and malign influence operations—became a major focus.

The Justice Department launched something called the China Initiative about three years ago. They have done an amazing job in exposing a lot of these networks. We’ve seen almost on a monthly basis either an American agent of China who is paid covertly for university research work or actual Chinese spies and agents being arrested or prosecuted.

My question is, why haven’t we done more to try and penetrate these operations as opposed to just exposing them or forcing them to flee the country, as they did in the case of Fang Fang and Eric Swalwell?

Mr. Jekielek: You’re describing … I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it seems like you’re describing a big failure of U.S. counterintelligence efforts.

Mr. Gertz: Yes. I did a book about 12 years ago called “Enemies” [Enemies: How America’s Foes Steal Our Vital Secrets-and How We Let It Happen]. It was about American counterintelligence and the many failures that we’ve had. Counterintelligence is that very arcane subset of intelligence gathering, targeting foreign spies. The U.S. has done a horrible job of this since the 1970s.

That’s when inside the CIA there was a major backlash against one of the top counterintelligence officials at the time. His name is James Angleton, who I knew back in the 80’s after he had left the CIA. Angleton believed in strategic counterintelligence.  That is, at the time during the Cold War, he wanted to target the KGB and the East-bloc intelligence services, because they were so integral to supporting the system over there. He lost out in an internal battle with William Colby, the CIA director, who was more of an advocate of covert action type of activities and more positive intelligence gathering; he didn’t want to target foreign intelligence services.

Ever since that period, after Angleton was forced out, for example, the CIA used to ridicule the concept of counterintelligence. They actually called it “sick think,” because you had to suspect your fellow intelligence officers of being spies. You had to go into their backgrounds, you had to question their motives, you had to question their patriotism. Ever since then, we’ve had a really, really bad problem of not being able to do counterintelligence.

In recent years, the FBI which does domestic counterintelligence has also been shown to have been completely unprepared to deal with foreign intelligence threat. I think we saw that in the case of Peter Strzok, who was highly politicized, who threatened an insurance policy to make sure that Trump would never take office. We had a top group at the top of the FBI that ruined the counterintelligence capabilities of the FBI.

I will make a point here, if I’m not going on too long. The FBI in the 1970s carried out one of the greatest counterintelligence coups in American history. This involved the case of the number two official in the Communist Party USA. His name was Morris Childs, and he was recruited as an FBI spy. So he became a double agent for the FBI. Because he was in the official Communist Party in the United States, he had access to both the Kremlin and Zhongnanhai—the Chinese Communist Party headquarters there.

This went on for many, many years. The CIA was very jealous of it, because they gathered a lot of intelligence. There is a book about it which was called “Operation Solo.” many years ago.

The FBI today has been so politicized and limiting in its ability to conduct aggressive counterintelligence, that they could never run an operation like that today. I’ve long advocated that what we need in the United States is a separate counterintelligence service, like the British have in what they call MI5. This has been resisted for political reasons.

In my book, I quoted Mark Kelton, the retired deputy CIA counterintelligence chief as describing China’s intelligence activities in the United States as an intelligence assault on the country that has not been seen since the KGB days of the Cold War. So we really need to improve our ability to not just identify and stop these spies, but to penetrate their operations, turn them against them.

And in the case of China, I think we could really bring about the decline of the Communist Party of China, if we went after both their military and civilian intelligence agencies and got people to defect.

Mr. Jekielek: Bill, there’s some discussion or debate about how closely communist and communist-aligned organizations in the United States, like the Communist Party USA, are actually connected and communicating with Communist Party in Zhongnanhai and elsewhere. How does that work today? Do you have any beat on this?

Mr. Gertz: Yes, in the past it used to be a much closer relationship because they did not have the same sophisticated tools. And of course the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, so there was no connection between the CPUSA and Moscow. But in the case of China, the American Communist Party came under the United Front Work Department, which is the main liaison group that is beginning to come to prominence. Especially, we’ve seen a lot about their activities in Australia, and some in the United States.

We’re starting to really expose what they call United Front work, which goes back to the early communist days of the last century, where they invested a lot of money. It was both an intelligence gathering tool as well as an influence and political warfare tool.

I think we need to do much more to expose and educate the American public and especially our leadership to the kinds of things that China is doing through the United Front work.

Mr. Jekielek: From what I understand, Fang Fang left amidst controversy in 2015 to go back to Communist China. What is the fallout of this and why are we only finding out about this five years later?

Mr. Gertz: Well, if you ask Swalwell, he’ll tell you that he thinks that it was leaked deliberately by the Trump administration because he was a critic. But if you look at the timing, according to the reports that we’ve seen, rather than go after … apparently they did go after Fang Fang—I’m talking about the FBI counterintelligence unit. They gave Swalwell a defensive briefing. Now a defensive briefing is basically, “You know this worker that you’ve got raising money for you and planting people in your office? She’s actually an MSS agent.” Oh, he’s surprised. Oh, so he does the right thing and he cuts off connections.

According to the reports, the same year that he was briefed, Fang Fang left the country. Did Swalwell tip her off? Obviously, if he cut off relations with her, she knew that her operation had been compromised and fled the country.

Again, this was a counterintelligence failure. I don’t know all the details. But clearly, they should have at least tried to turn her into a double agent, confronted her, or at the very least interrogated her to find out more details about her activities, her network and whether she could help expose some of the other influence operations that China has been conducting in the United States.

Mr. Jekielek: I want to switch gears a little bit here. I want to talk about something that we don’t hear a lot about, but which is really important to me personally. And this is the fate of Hong Kong. Recently, we even had Jimmy Lai charged under this national security law, with the prospect of him getting up to life in prison. Now, this is something that was, frankly, unimaginable to me even a year ago.

Mr. Gertz: What we are witnessing taking place in Hong Kong is kind of the second Tiananmen aftermath. After the Tiananmen massacre in 1989, when the party sent tanks against unarmed civilian pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s main square, they launched a massive nationwide crackdown on anyone with pro-democracy views or beliefs or statements. We’re now seeing a similar kind of action taking place in Hong Kong.

The initial step was recognized by the Hong Kong people and opposed vehemently in massive demonstrations for many months beginning in June of last year. They recognized that the national security law is the first step in Beijing’s effort to crack down on all vestiges of democracy in Hong Kong. And that’s playing out in a very systematic way. We’re seeing arrests of all pro-democracy advocates and legislators—anyone who speaks out in support of democracy.

China promised in its basic law when Hong Kong reverted back from Britain to China, that they would allow the democratic system to remain in place. They violated that. They lied. Now we’re seeing the consequences. Jimmy Lai is the owner of Apple Daily, one of the most outspoken critics of the Communist Party in Hong Kong. Not only have they arrested him, they’re now investigating him in a way that indicates that it’s going to be a show trial, or an automatic conviction, in order to silence the voices.

It reminds me of that famous Chinese saying, kill a chicken to scare a monkey. That’s exactly what the party is doing. They’re going after key figures and putting them in long prison terms. They think that this will silence the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. It remains to be seen how they will react and whether we will see some more spontaneous demonstrations. The Chinese strategy is clearly to try and go after a number of key officials and hopefully that will scare the rest of the people into going along with the crackdown.

Mr. Jekielek: How do you rate the response of the United States and the West, in a broader sense, to all of this?

Mr. Gertz: Well, the Trump administration has done the right things that they can do. Certainly, Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, has been out front in taking the lead. They’ve sanctioned Chinese officials for Hong Kong and they’ve ended Hong Kong Special Trade status. That was a major step. It was controversial. A lot of the business community said, “This will only hurt the West and hurt Hong Kong”.

But Pompeo has taken aggressive action. I think more could be done. It’s time to perhaps create a Hong Kong parliament in exile that could begin advocating for separating Hong Kong from the mainland, going back to the pre-reversion.

Mr. Jekielek: What about offering asylum or immigration opportunities to Hong Kongers and dissidents?

Mr. Gertz: Well, I think Taiwan is taking the lead there. They’re saying if you can get to Taiwan, you can live here free. And of course, they’re cracking down on that. They’ve recently gone after a group of people who tried to flee there. I think other nations are offering shelter and safe harbor to democracy activists. That’s certainly something that could be done.

What really needs to be done is to find a way to support some of the pro-democracy people within the government and perhaps see how that plays out. But the situation in Hong Kong from a free market democratic standpoint is fairly dim, in the sense that the Chinese are taking aggressive, brutal action to crush democracy in Hong Kong.

Mr. Jekielek: Again, it’s very hard to watch all this happen. At the same time, you describe these 12 that tried to escape on a speedboat to Taiwan. Now, they’ve been charged with illegally crossing a border or some of them organizing to illegally cross again, with broad powers to give them heavy sentences. We’ll see how all that plays out.

Bill, at the same time, we keep getting more and more information about gross human rights violations in Xinjiang. Most recently about potentially half a million people being forced into labor in the cotton field. What is happening with China under the Chinese Communist Party right now, or are we just learning of this right now?

Mr. Gertz: The numbers have remained for several years now that over a million people have been incarcerated in western China in Xinjiang. These are ethnic Uyghurs, they’re Muslims. And yet the outcry from the Muslim world is almost negligible. This is again an indication of how powerful China’s information operations have been—its influence activities. They’ve managed to silence the Muslim world against this crime against humanity that’s being carried out in western China.

I think much more needs to be done to expose that. The U.S. government should step up and take satellite photos and release them, high resolution images which can show what’s going on there, and really help to gather world opinion and world diplomatic pressure and political pressure on Beijing to end these crimes against humanity.

Mr. Jekielek: Bill, you talked about the power of Chinese Communist Party information operations. One of the big ones that I’ve been deeply concerned about has to do with Coronavirus or the CCP virus, as we call it at the Epoch Times. There’s a lot of this kind of information operation, pushing the idea that it came from somewhere else. I’m sure you’ve come across this. It’s basically to avoid responsibility. Tell me about what’s happening with this.

Mr. Gertz: This is part of a massive global disinformation campaign by Beijing to deceive the world about the nature and origin of the coronavirus outbreak, and which began in Wuhan in December of 2019, a year ago. This is another crime against humanity—the way that the Beijing party leaders have misled the world, partly to deflect criticism of China for their gross mishandling of the virus.

I would also say that there is strong circumstantial evidence that this virus did not come from an intermediate host—that it came from a bat into a Chinese military laboratory somewhere in China and that somehow it leaked out and caused the pandemic.

We don’t know the final answer to that because the Chinese have lied about the origins and they’ve refused to permit international inspectors to go in there and try to find the origins. The latest iteration of this to try to find the origin is that they’ve sent a team of World Health Organization epidemiologists into China not to look at their military labs and their civilian labs where this virus may have come from, but to look for that elusive animal host that somehow was the cause of this outbreak.

That story just doesn’t hold water anymore. The idea that initially a bat infected some animal like a pangolin or other intermediary host, and then it miraculously jumped to a human at a wet food market. That theory has been widely discredited, even with the Chinese.

Again, we’ve seen their massive misdirection about the origin. They first tried to say that it was the U.S. Army that brought it to some military games in China in November of last year. Then we saw the disinformation campaign that it actually began in Italy. That was debunked, because we know that Wuhan is a major source for overseas Chinese workers, many of whom went to Italy and worked in Italy around the time of the Lunar New Year last year.

The same with New York, Wuhan is a center for overseas workers. That’s how it spread when the Chinese refused to lock down Wuhan at the time of the outbreak. And now we’re seeing this other canard from the communist party that somehow it came into China on frozen food.

We need answers from China. Before the Trump administration leaves office, if they do next month, we’ve got to get to the bottom of the origin of this virus. If we don’t, we’re going to be hit with more viruses. China boasted of having found 2000 new viruses since 2012, when in the previous several 100 years only as many as 3000 viruses had been uncovered.

So they uncovered a massive number of viruses. They’ve been obsessed with research on viruses. And now their people are trying to defend them in the American medical and scientific community that somehow this didn’t come out of a Chinese laboratory. It doesn’t pass the smell test, in newspaper terms.

Mr. Jekielek: Very disturbing thoughts. I certainly hope to see some further investigation around the origin, although it’s going to be very hard because the original wet market was bulldozed. The labs have been wiped clean. What kind of investigation can be done here?

Mr. Gertz: The Communist Party of China knows the origin of this virus, and they’re just not telling anyone. International pressure needs to be put on them to disclose what they know. They’re lying about it. Their top spokesman at the PRC foreign ministry is on record as blaming the American military for this. We know they’re lying about it. What’s the truth? They need to be forced into telling the truth.

My position on that is that we should end all normal trading relations with China. We should end all normal relations with a country that caused the deaths of 300,000 Americans and countless others around the world. This is serious business and we need to take it much more seriously than it’s been taken so far.

Mr. Jekielek: Bill, any final thoughts before we finish up?

Mr. Gertz: I’m looking forward to 2021. We’re going to be having some vigorous debates about how to deal with the People’s Republic of China and the Communist Party of China in the coming months.

I urge you to keep up the great work that you’ve been doing in getting to the heart of this debate, and continuing to educate both the American and international publics on these matters.

Mr. Jekielek: Bill Gertz, it’s such a pleasure to have you on again.

Mr. Gertz: Thank you very much.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

American Thought Leaders is an Epoch Times show available on YouTubeFacebook, and The Epoch Times website. It airs on Verizon Fios TV and Frontier Fios on NTD America (Channel 158).
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