Today, we sit down with China analyst Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” to discuss Chinese Communist Party paid propaganda in American news outlets, how Beijing interfered in the U.S. elections, and why China is building a massive DNA database of people all over the world.
This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Gordon Chang, so great to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Gordon Chang: Well, thank you so much, Jan. I really appreciate it.
Jan Jekielek: Well, Gordon, here at The Epoch Times, we’ve been focusing a lot on the recent elections and so forth. I think it’s high time that we took a look at China and the Chinese Communist Party again. They’ve been up to all sorts of things. I really enjoy looking at your Twitter feed, @gordongchang, on Twitter. You have a lot of the current things that are happening there. But for starters, a lot of Americans are actually deeply concerned that the Chinese Communist Party has had an impact on this election, I want to give you a chance to speak to that.
Gordon Chang: Well, China certainly wanted to influence the outcome of the election. For instance, during the Democratic Party nomination process, they supported Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders. During the general election, I think that they were trying to unseat President Trump. There was a massive disinformation campaign conducted, especially by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which is official—and the Global Times, which is the Communist Party tabloid.
Also, there were the troll and bot farm operations, which were actually quite massive. There was the Spamouflage Dragon network, which attacked the President on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. And we know that Twitter took down 174,000 fake Chinese accounts in June alone. So they really went after the Republican candidate.
There’s something else which I think had an effect, although it may not have been directly election related. Radio Free Asia reports that the Chinese military—the People’s Liberation Army—actually based an intelligence unit in the, then, open Houston consulate. From there, they used artificial intelligence and big data to identify Americans likely to participate in Antifa and Black Lives Matter protests. And then they sent them videos through TikTok on how to riot.
So this went beyond subversion. This was actually an act of war. And because it caused turmoil, it had an effect on the election. As I said, it wasn’t directly related to Beijing’s favorite candidate. But nonetheless, I think that it did ultimately have an effect. So Beijing believed it really did have a candidate in this race and worked very hard to unseat President Trump.
Jan Jekielek: Okay, so it sounds like there actually has been debate about this—that Beijing was actually interested in [a] Joe Biden presidency. Why do you think that is?
Gordon Chang: Well, because, there are a lot of reasons. I think one of them is that basically Chinese officials found President Trump to be unpredictable. Now, China, we know [what] they can do with American presidents who have a skeptical attitudes towards the Communist Party, but they like predictability. And that certainly was lacking in the Trump administration.
Also of course, President Trump, he ditched five decades of engagement policy, and his general approach was to impose costs on China for unacceptable conduct. So Beijing did suffer, especially during the last couple of years of the Trump presidency.
And there’s one other factor, Jan. That is, every president gives China a grace period when they take office. President Trump did it. President Trump’s grace period in China—a big wet kiss—was actually more than a year. You know, we remember those images from Mar-a-Lago in April 2017. But that actually continued for quite some time.
I think the Chinese are banking on getting another grace period from Joe Biden. This would be true, regardless of what Biden said and felt about China. They were counting on a period where a new president tries to establish cooperative relations with Beijing.
Unfortunately, right now, given the nature of the struggle that we’re in, I don’t think we have a moment to lose. And so this is going to be a factor. And it’s up to the American people to make sure that that grace period is as short as possible. I think Beijing might actually help in this regard, because they’ll probably push the Biden administration, they’ll try to test him. But in any event, we’ve got to make sure that we continue the defense of the American Republic from China’s malicious attacks.
Jan Jekielek: Gordon, you mention the struggle that we’re in, can you just expand on that a little bit, please?
Gordon Chang: I believe the struggle is existential. We’ll start from a most fundamental point and that is, you know, people say that the United States and China are just involved in one of history’s many “boys will be boys” contest for dominance. I don’t see it that way at all. Because we’re not trying just to protect our position in the international system. We’re trying to protect that international system itself.
The system that was first put in place in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia [that] recognizes the sovereignty of states. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has been talking for more than decades, dropping hints that he believes that the world should adopt Imperial era notions of Chinese rule, where Chinese Emperors believed that they had the mandate of heaven over what they called “Tianxia”, or, “All Under Heaven”.
Recently, Xi Jinping’s references have become unmistakable. For instance, in his 2017 New Year’s message, he actually uses that phrase, “there should be harmony all under heaven”. And if that weren’t enough, his Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in September 2017, actually wrote an article in Study Times, which is the Central Party School’s influential publication. And in that article, Wang Yi, the foreign minister, referred to that Xi Jinping thought. And as you know, a “thought” in Communist Party lingo is an important ideological body of work. It’s actually unassailable truth.
Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping’s thought on diplomacy made innovations to and transcended Western international relations thinking of the last 300 years. So you take 2017, you subtract 300 years, you almost get to 1648. So when Wang Yi says that Xi Jinping has transcended that system, he’s saying that there shouldn’t be sovereign states, or at least no more of them than China.
And actually, China has been acting like it is the only legitimate state in the world. The attacks on the U.S. have been malicious. We see, for instance, their theft of U.S. intellectual property, somewhere between $125-150 billion— to maybe as much as $600 billion a year. They took steps in December and January to make sure that the coronavirus escaped China’s borders, infecting the world. This is an attack actually. This is the first attack in history where one nation has gone after all the others.
China has made it very clear that the United States shouldn’t be in Asia. We just go on and on and on. This attack is just unrelenting. It’s across the board. And it’s a challenge that we have no choice but to meet.
Jan Jekielek: You know, Gordon, you were talking about thinkers here. There’s a video that’s been cruising around of the Chinese sociologist Dr. Li Yi, and he has some incredible claims. I know you must have seen this. He’s saying “we are driving America to its death; COVID-19 has been beneficial to China and North Korea; there will be no U.S.-China war, but we will take over Taiwan”. These are the kinds of things he’s saying.
Gordon Chang: It’s not official of course, but it is an example of the hostility that many in the Chinese elite feel towards the United States, and in general towards everybody else. So it’s an indication of what people feel.
You know, we’ve had a number of statements from senior Chinese military officers—admirals, generals—talking with glee and relish about killing tens of thousands of Americans. This is something we’ve got to be concerned [about], that you’ve got an officer class which is dedicated to going after the United States and killing us.
I don’t know what to say, except that we Americans are very good at not listening to what our enemies say about us. The most recent example, of course, is we just totally ignored Osama Bin Laden until he killed more than 3000 Americans on 9-11. But right now, China is much more powerful than the Taliban and Al Qaeda ever were. So this is an existential challenge.
Jan Jekielek: So, you mentioned that this sociologist’s words weren’t official. Let’s talk about something official that’s happening not that far from home because it’s happening to another free democracy. You know, in Australia, we have official Chinese Communist Party spokespeople circulating what we know are false photos of Australian soldiers killing children. And then when they’re called on it, they’re doubling down, basically. What is going on here?
Gordon Chang: This is one of the most disturbing trends that we have seen. And that is, Chinese propaganda is becoming even more divorced from reality. And they are propagating, as you say, an image in this case that they know has been doctored.
What this says is that something is terribly wrong in Beijing, and people can argue over what it is. I mean, I argue that it is a sign of fragility. People can say it’s a sign of strength. But whatever it is, Jan, it is extremely disturbing. China is heading back to a Maoist era. We are seeing the same sort of trends now as in the early years of the People’s Republic.
So we’ve got to be extremely concerned—whatever the causes—about whether China is strong or weak. There’s a lot that both sides can say on this, but the point is, China is dangerous right now and becoming even more so.
Jan Jekielek: Speaking of Australia, there’s also what I view as an unrestricted warfare tactic. In this case, they’re using wine as the weapon, so to speak, right? Putting unbelievable tariffs on the wine. Alleging dumping, which is, frankly, laughable—I’m doing a little bit of my own editorializing here. And at the same time, kind of doing a lighter tariff on the people that are basically friendly with the Communist Party of China. What does this say about what the CCP wants to do to the U.S. and other countries—my home country, Canada, and Australia.
Gordon Chang: Well, what it says is that no country should have an agreement with China, because China doesn’t honor them.
The tariffs, the 400 percent dumping tariffs on Australia, that’s a clear violation of China’s World Trade Organization obligations. You mentioned you’re from Canada. You’ve got the two Michaels, Michael Spavor and Michael Carville, who have been in detention for more than 500 days. And that’s clearly retaliation for Canada honoring an extradition request, which is now being litigated in the Canadian courts. You know, all of this says that China is just extremely dangerous.
Go back to Australia—how did the spat between Canberra and Beijing start? Well, it’s because Australia wanted an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19. And Beijing found that to be … apparently, they said they were highly insulted.
But we’ve got to be concerned why Beijing has spent so much effort preventing the international community from studying how this disease got started. A lot of people have theories about the origin of the coronavirus. But the point is, we know that Beijing has worked from the very beginning to prevent outside investigation. And that’s the origin of the Australian spat.
Jan Jekielek: Speaking about the Meng extradition from Canada. I’ve looked at the complaint. It’s incredibly strong, both on the U.S. and the Canadian sides. This obviously isn’t a political act. They’ve been involved in some very, very, very nasty dealings—Huawei, we’re talking about here. There’s people that are saying that with a new presidency, this extradition could be rescinded.
Gordon Chang: Well, this extradition is going through the Canadian courts. There’s an established procedure. And Beijing has detained the two Michaels as we just talked about, because it feels that Canada should not be honoring its own laws. Eventually, there will be a resolution of this, but it’ll be a resolution in accordance with Canadian law. And Beijing finds that to be unacceptable.
You know, China does not believe in law. We have dozens … hundreds of scholars around the world that study Chinese law. Well, that can be summarized in essentially one sentence: China has laws and regulations and often doesn’t follow them because the Communist Party determines eventual outcomes. That’s Chinese law. They do not expect other countries to follow their own laws. China, in one sense can do whatever it wants internally. But China needs to respect other countries, and it absolutely refuses to do so.
Jan Jekielek: Right now, from what I can tell, as another one of these prongs of propaganda efforts that we’ve been describing, they’re suggesting that coronavirus originated elsewhere, in Italy perhaps, or maybe somewhere else.
Gordon Chang: Well, somewhere else would include the United States because on March 12, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, tweeted out that coronavirus patient zero was in the United States. And then he insinuated that it was the U.S. Army that brought the disease to Wuhan. And that’s officially, Jan. That’s the foreign ministry.
Now, of course, they’ve also talked about India, Spain, and they have mentioned numerous times that coronavirus was found on the surfaces of frozen food being imported into China. I mean, coronavirus started everywhere, but where was the first patient was sickened? And that is of course, Wuhan.
So China’s disinformation campaign has been going on for months, but especially over the last two to three weeks, it’s really picked up. And that’s another indication that Chinese propaganda, as I mentioned before, is divorced—increasingly so—from what is true.
Jan Jekielek: Gordon, how is it that Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece media, to this day—I think most recently in the LA Times—are basically putting in extensive inserts of straight-up propaganda that looks a lot like normal editorial content in these papers. What’s this about?
Gordon Chang: It’s about money. These are advertising sections. China’s been paying huge sums to the LA Times and other papers to put in these sections. I’ve heard one estimate of like a million dollars for that most recent supplement in the LA Times.
Let’s remember what’s going on here. China is propagating its own narratives. For instance, in the LA Times, they have a story about organs—about how more and more Chinese people are lining up to donate organs. Well, really what that is, once you read between the lines, is essentially that all of these organs are available in China because they come from willing donors. But there is substantial evidence—growing evidence—that defenseless people are being killed for their organs.
This goes back, not only for Falun Gong practitioners, but for others as well. People are talking about Uyghurs, people have talked about prisoners of any religion or no religion. But there’s more and more evidence that indicates that there is forced organ harvesting and murder. This is something which is a narrative that the LA Times supplement tries to counter. And so we got to realize that this is not just some sort of laughable propaganda put into the LA Times. This really is promoting insidious narratives.
Jan Jekielek: Gordon, since you’re talking about the evidence around the forced organ harvesting. A year ago, the China Tribunal convened, and figured out finally and definitively after many studies that yes, this is happening. Yes, it is still happening. And yes, large amounts of people have been effectively murdered for organs in China. For anybody watching, chinatribunal.org, that’s where you go. But let’s counter this disinformation, this terrible propaganda. I didn’t realize that this was in this insert. This is horrific.
Gordon Chang: Yes, I was looking through the insert a couple of days ago. And it was right there, about how Chinese people are voluntarily donating their organs. And the first thing that occurred to me was, this is an attempt to undermine what you’ve been talking about—the evidence that has been coming out, clearly indicating forced organ harvesting.
This is still controversial. But the point is not whether it’s true or not. The point is that the Los Angeles Times accepted a lot of money to propagate China’s narrative on this. And from all we can see, this is highly damaging. So shame on the LA Times! Shame on the other major U.S. publications that have run similar inserts.
And as we go through those inserts, we’re going to see what China is most concerned about. Obviously, organ harvesting is on the list because it is in the LA Times supplement.
Jan Jekielek: Incredible! Gordon, one of the things I want to talk about today is the CCP using the … let’s call it the South China Sea model, to expand. Some people are arguing that the moon is an attempt … the recent lunar landing is an attempt to expand the South China Sea model.
Also in Bhutan, they’re setting up shop, from what I understand, with the Chinese flag and so forth. Again, a similar idea. Perhaps you could just kind of give us a picture of what this is, if you agree, and how it works.
Gordon Chang: These are, of course, the incursions into India, which started in the first week of May. Since that time, there have been Chinese encroachments on the territory of both Nepal and Bhutan.
You started out by talking about the Chinese lunar excursion. Chinese leaders talk about the moon in the same terms as the South China Sea, saying “it’s our South China Sea”. So it is China’s attempt to dominate, and indeed rule the world.
You know, we talked about Tianxia, and many people say, “Oh, you know that’s ludicrous, they can’t really mean it”. Well, yes, it is ludicrous. But no, they do really mean it. They view the world as being subservient to China.
With regard to the moon, the Chinese do plan to establish a colony on the moon, they plan to exploit minerals there. As a friend of mine says, the world’s first trillionaire will be the person who mines minerals on the surface of the moon. If that’s all they’re doing, okay. But, of course, they’re going to use it for military purposes to dominate the high ground of space. So we’ve got to be concerned that this is more than just a commercial venture. China says, this is theirs, and they’re going to keep people out of it.
Jan Jekielek: Well, in this whole South China Sea phenomenon, right? First, you have Chinese vessels coming in and building artificial islands in areas that, of course, aren’t under Chinese jurisdiction. Then they’re putting structures on them, “Oh, of course we’re not going to militarize this.” Then they’re putting military facilities, then they’re putting weaponry, and then they’re saying, “Hey, this is all ours! Hey, it’s always been this way”. I mean, it’s almost hard for the typical person to fathom that this could be allowed to happen.
Gordon Chang: Well, it is being allowed to happen, because countries are in fact allowing it. This is inherent in democracies. Democracies generally don’t want to deal with long-term critical threats, until they actually affect populations. That’s just the way our form of government is.
We saw this with Britain and France in the 1930’s. We look back and say, how could London and Paris have allowed the Third Reich to re-militarize the Rhineland, to absorb Austria, to take the part of Czechoslovakia not permitted by the Munich Agreement? The Munich Agreement itself? How could they have done this? But that’s the way democracies operate.
Tocqueville talked about this, about America in the early 19th century. So it’s inherent in our form of government. And that’s why democracies get into these major conflicts, because we aren’t, for the most part, resolute. We were during the Cold War, but we’re not now. Because we don’t want to recognize evil; don’t want to recognize the China challenge for what it is.
And there’s one other aspect of it, and that is, leaders and democracies change. So it’s more difficult for democracies to maintain consistent foreign policies. It’s not to say that we can’t do it, but it is to say it’s more difficult. And we’re going to have a transition coming up. So that’s the reason why we end up in these major conflicts.
Jan Jekielek: So Gordon, let’s talk about foreign policy. One of the perhaps most famous foreign policy experts, Henry Kissinger, recently in the news, was removed from a DOD [Department of Defence] advisory role. He’s also been on the record, seemingly advising both a prospective President Biden, if that indeed is how things end up, and perhaps the Chinese leadership at the same time. It almost looks to me like they’re suggesting going back to, “engagement—business as usual before 2016”.
Gordon Chang: Well, Kissinger, in the middle of November, gave that interview to the Bloomberg News editor-in-chief. This was part of the Bloomberg New Economy forum. Kissinger went through what he’s been talking about in the past, which is essentially, we have to cooperate with China, we’ve got to find areas where we can work together, or there will be worldwide war. He mentioned that again. But hat narrative is wrong. There are choices, other than the two that he put forward. He took the two extremes. There’s also containment and deterrence in the middle of that.
But what was fascinating about the Bloomberg interview, which we haven’t really seen before, is that Kissinger sort of poo-pooed the whole idea of deterrence. John Micklethwait, the editor, said to Kissinger, “What about democracies getting together and protecting their own interest?” And Kissinger said, “It’s not bad as a general idea, but they shouldn’t band together against any one particular country.” Which is really, of course, the point of what we’re talking about, because countries that are democratic are indeed getting together to protect themselves from China. That’s the whole idea behind the quad, which is the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
We’re seeing this elsewhere throughout the region. So Kissinger is saying, well, we shouldn’t be trying to deter the Chinese. You know, Kissinger is often held up as the expert on deterrence. This is just shocking stuff.
Now, there was other bad stuff in that interview. But the one thing that we have to remember is that Bloomberg asked him about the Congress of Vienna, because Kissinger wrote “A World Restored”, that famous book in 1957. And in that book, Kissinger actually came up with the way that you deal with China. He wasn’t obviously talking about China, he was talking about Napoleon and talking about the world in the early 19th century.
He said that whenever peace—which is defined as the avoidance of war—is considered to be the primary objective of the leading powers in the international system, then the international system is at the mercy of its most ruthless member.
Then he went on and said, “whenever powers believe that certain principles cannot be sacrificed, even for peace, then it’s possible to have stability based upon an equilibrium of powers”. That’s one way to deal with China. That’s deterrence. But Kissinger is saying, “No, you can’t deter these guys”. I don’t know how you cooperate with China, given all that’s happened. Unfortunately, Kissinger has not adjusted his views on what China has, in fact, been doing.
Jan Jekielek: It’s very fascinating that you mentioned this, because did he change his mind? Or he doesn’t recognize his own advice from way back then?
Gordon Chang: I don’t know what’s in Kissinger’s mind, but I do know that his advice for today is wrong. I mean, what Kissinger does—and he’s done this in the past, this is consistent—he misreads Chinese history.
In this 14-minute Bloomberg interview, he manages to totally mangle the history of that great nation. Because he talks about that all throughout most of its history, [China’s] been threatened, the unity of the nation has been threatened. Well, nobody, for more than seven decades has threatened China’s unity.
He’s talking about the Warring States period or something. I don’t know what’s in his mind. But the point is that this is not the China of today, and China’s leaders should not be excused. I mean, you can go back to the “century of humiliation”, but that’s a couple hundred years ago. We’ve got to deal with the world as it is, and Chinese leaders don’t have an excuse for what they’re doing.
Jan Jekielek: It seems like Xi Jinping has some ideas about how to, for example, facilitate travel under coronavirus, global travel. You’ve been writing about this, it was a very fascinating article you had in Newsweek. Essentially, he’s talking about using our DNA— in a kind of QR code type format—to determine the health of a person?
A lot of people watching this show—if you haven’t heard about this you are probably stunned to hear that this is even being proposed. Of course, it’s maybe not surprising that it’s being proposed by the leader of the Chinese Communist Party. There are places in China like Xinjiang, which have this kind of mass sampling of DNA for different purposes. Then there is the forced organ harvesting regime across the country as well. What’s going on here, Gordon, tell me.
Xi Jinping, at the Virtual G20 Summit in November, proposed a global QR code for travel to facilitate both travel and commerce. In his remarks, he didn’t say mandatory, but Global Times—which as I mentioned is a Communist Party publication—and others have filled that in and said that China’s thinking of a mandatory system.
Gordon Chang: So that means you can’t board a plane, for instance, without showing your QR code to a reader. And this is quite something because the QR code is going to have two things. It’s going to have health information, as well as travel information. And someone’s got to administer that system. And so China, being a participant in that, is going to have access one way or another, either legitimate access, or it’s going to hack all of this information.
This is important, because we’ve got to view it in a broader context. And that is China has been trying to build the DNA database of people throughout the world. It already has the world’s largest DNA database, it wants to increase it, it’s been doing this in a number of different ways.
So for instance, it has been hacking companies such as Anthem, the second largest American health insurer. That was discovered in 2015. So it’s been stealing DNA data.
But it’s also been getting data by buying U.S. companies that have genetic profiles. So for instance, it bought GNC; it’s bought Complete Genomics. That is just a legal way of doing it. We shouldn’t be permitting [this], and we should be unwinding those acquisitions, by the way.
Then there’s another way that China is getting DNA data. It’s offering low cost DNA testing to Ancestry and other companies. So if you go to … and I don’t want to name a name, but you know these companies, you see them advertised all the time. There’s a real chance that your DNA is, one way or another, being shipped off to China. Because last year, there were at least 23 accredited Chinese or Chinese-affiliated testers of DNA that were certified in the US. So they get it that way.
China—at the same time that it’s collecting our DNA—is prohibiting the transfer of the DNA of Chinese people to foreigners. And the question is, what’s going on here?
Bill Gertz of The Washington Times quoted an unnamed U.S. official saying that it looks like China is trying to develop biological weapons that are targeted at certain ethnic groups. Now, we don’t know if that is true. But we do know from the observable behaviors I’ve just been talking about, that that’s consistent with what we have been seeing. We’ve got to be concerned that is what’s occurring.
Jan Jekielek: And we certainly know, just to add to your point—and frankly, a chill went up my spine as you just said this—we know that they’re employing policies in places like Xinjiang and Tibet that I think, credibly, could be described as eugenic policies.
Gordon Chang: Oh, well yes! That Xinjiang professor, a couple of years ago, was actually jailed for conducting experiments that obviously were state-sanctioned—before there was too much heat—messing around with embryos and stuff.
So China’s been doing this. There’s been a lot of genetic research, which is reminiscent of what was occurring in the Third Reich. So China is obviously doing that and it’s made a big push into all of these DNA-based businesses.
This is a matter of great concern. Jan, we’ve just had a proof of biological warfare with the coronavirus. I don’t know how this bug got started. But we do know that Xi Jinping took steps that would inevitably lead to the spread of the disease beyond China’s borders.
China publicly admitted for the first time on January 20 of this year, that the coronavirus was transmissible from one human to the next. But doctors in Wuhan knew no later than the second week of December, that it was highly contagious. A Harvard Medical School study suggests they knew in August.
Now, if China had said nothing during those five weeks or five months, that would have been grossly irresponsible. But what China did was it tried to mislead the world. And we know this because the World Health Organization issued that infamous January 14 tweet that said that based on information from China, the disease was not contagious. So there’s obviously the attempt to deceive.
At the same time, Xi Jinping was pressuring countries not to impose travel restrictions and quarantines on arrivals from China. And to make this even worse, Xi was imposing those travel restrictions and quarantines internally in Wuhan and other places. So, by imposing them internally, he was thinking that they would be effective in preventing the spread of disease. By leaning on other countries not to impose these measures, he knew that he was spreading the disease beyond China’s borders.
Also, after January 20, when they admitted the contagiousness of this, they then started a campaign on January 21, to convince the world that this disease was no more contagious than SARS—the 2002-2003 epidemic that infected, officially, 8400 people worldwide [and] killed 810. Now China on January 21, knew that this was far more dangerous than SARS ever was.
So we don’t know what was in Xi Jinping’s mind, but if after having seen what the coronavirus did to cripple China, if you wanted to level the playing field by crippling other countries, he would have done exactly what in fact, he did do.
Jan Jekielek: And to your point, I have seen—and I saw this a lot later than I would have liked to see—credible arguments about Chinese social media or Chinese-fueled social media, agitating in western countries for lockdowns. The effect of which, of course, we know is crushing the economies of these countries.
Gordon Chang: And also harming individual’s health. There have been so many strokes, for instance, that have been caused by people who were afraid to go and get their stroke medicine and mental health issues directly related to the lockdown. And of course, the crushing of the economy as you point out. That’s a whole other story. But the point is, China’s actions were obviously deliberate. That means that this was malicious. This means that, as I said, this is the first time that one country has attacked all the others. We’ve got to be very clear about what happened here.
The reason why this is an ongoing issue, this is not just COVID-19, something that’s already occurred. This is what happens when the next pathogen generated on Chinese soil happens. What is Xi Jinping going to do? If we do not impose costs on him for deliberately spreading COVID-19, the coronavirus, then he will spread the next one. So we’ve got to deter him from this—going back to what Henry Kissinger doesn’t want us to do.
We need to impose these costs on China. And these costs have got to be so severe that they never spread another disease like this again.
Jan Jekielek: So, it wouldn’t be surprising that Beijing is very eager to get back to business as usual. Again, I’m saying like, pre-2016 business as usual.
Gordon Chang: Yes, well, of course. Because in that period— the last half century, we had a policy of supporting the Communist Party. We know we tried to integrate China into the international system; make it stronger. Believing that as it became stronger, it would become benign. But obviously that theory is not right, and we should have known. But having seen what’s occurred, we have no excuse for continuing policies that we know are leading in a very dangerous direction.
Jan Jekielek: Gordon Chang, powerful words. Any final thoughts?
Gordon Chang: This is a critical moment. We have no time to lose because of the strength and the maliciousness of China’s attacks. China’s regime is malevolent. We’d like to think that we could coexist with it. But I don’t believe that we can because China doesn’t believe it can coexist with us. Now, there are a lot of reasons why totalitarian states are difficult to deal with. But we are seeing all the worst tendencies right now. So this is a moment that history will remember.
Jan Jekielek: Gordon Chang, such a pleasure to have you on again.
Gordon Chang: Thank you, Jan. I really appreciate it.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.