Given global distrust of the WHO, what steps could the WHO take to regain legitimacy?
In practice, how could the US and other nations actually force the Chinese regime to pay damages for its coverup and handling of the CCP virus?
How is the Chinese communist regime becoming more belligerent in Asia and in the South China Sea?
And why has there been a recent rise in racism and government discrimination against foreigners in China?
In this episode, we sit down with Dr. Anders Corr, publisher of the Journal of Political Risk and founder of Corr Analytics, which provides strategic analyses of international politics.
This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Dr. Anders Corr, it’s such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Dr. Anders Corr: Thank you.
Mr. Jekielek: You’ve been studying the South China Sea extensively. We’re going to talk about that today a bit. You’ve also been talking a lot about Chinese Communist Party’s influence in the West and in the U.S., and so forth. We’re definitely going to touch on that, especially the recent defunding of the WHO that we heard from the president recently, pending an investigation. What are you seeing here?
Dr. Corr: Well, the WHO should be positioned to be an early warning system for the whole world, for big pandemic outbreaks like we’ve seen with COVID-19, but they really failed.
In November and December [of 2019], the doctors in China were seeing evidence of human-to-human transmission, as early as December 8. Before that was the first case that they came across. But internal politics in China, whether that was Beijing or local Wuhan Communist Party officials, were really stifling the doctors’ ability to speak out. It’s the WHO’s responsibility to know that politics comes into play with these outbreaks, and politicians try, sometimes frequently like with SARS, to stifle doctors. Now, the WHO didn’t do that. They had doctors’ voices stifled by the Communist Party, and it wasn’t until December 31 that Taiwan started getting in touch with people including the U.S.CDC [United States Center for Disease Control].
At that point, China was, in a sense, forced to reveal this information and go public, but they still claimed that there was no human-to-human transmission, and the WHO followed in their footsteps and said, “There’s no evidence of human-to-human transmission.” They said, “There’s no need to close your borders.” … They said, “There’s no reason to track people once they got into your country, coming in from Wuhan.” In a way, that fed into or enabled China’s position of maintaining business as normal, maintaining their economy, which of course is very important to them, and that created a global pandemic.
Between the failures of the Communist Party and the failures of WHO, we now have hundreds of thousands of deaths and the global economy is going into a recession. It’s a horrendous and horrible outcome that the WHO should have been there to stop, and so, for that reason, I think that President Trump is right to question whether additional U.S. funding, taxpayer money, should go to the WHO when they’ve failed so miserably here. In my opinion, we should think about asking Dr. Tedros to resign–I already have on Twitter long ago–and we should make that a requirement for refunding the WHO, and we should also have institutional measures be put into place so that the doctors and WHO are able to speak out without getting the permission of the top-level political management of the WHO, because the top-level political management is the easiest hook for the Chinese Communist Party to control what the WHO says.
And like it or not, WHO still has tremendous cachet globally, and authority globally, from people who don’t know better–don’t realize the WHO is so politicized. It’s not only politicized, but lately it’s been quite hypocritical because they demand that the pandemic not be politicized, but it’s impossible not to solve the next pandemic that comes up without looking at the political problems that the WHO has.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s very interesting because obviously the WHO is dependent on the reporting from every member country, and to some extent, on believing that reporting is accurate, right? I think that’s perhaps their own defense. But you’re basically suggesting here that if the doctors have reason to believe that the reporting is politicized, or the numbers are politicized, which I hear you saying, then the WHO should be taking a different approach. How would that work?
Dr. Corr: Well, I think the WHO does have offices in each country, and those offices are able to talk not just to the top level of government in China, for example, but (to) doctors all the way down, right? And so, if there are concerns from doctors, … if doctors believe that their message isn’t getting up the chain of command through Beijing, they can potentially go straight to the WHO or the U.S. CDC and say, “Hey, we’ve got a real problem here. We’ve got a suspected outbreak with human-to-human transmission. We all need to be much more careful. Beijing’s not taking this seriously.”
The WHO should have in place, in all countries around the world, personal relationships with doctors who can inform them of when a problem is happening. And actually, we saw this happening, where you had doctors in China, in Wuhan, informing the CDC of a problem, or doctors in Taiwan informing the CDC of the problem, not through their normal chain of command. They’re just informing them directly, and it’s those personal relationships with doctors around the world that the WHO should have their own epidemiological surveillance system where they’re looking for clues of an outbreak or an epidemic that aren’t being reported to the authorities.
Mr. Jekielek: It seems like such an astounding thing that we have evidence that there was knowledge of human-to-human transmission well before the WHO reported, based on the Chinese information, that there wasn’t. I think it was January 14, just off the top of my head. This arguably was a major point that led to the pandemic as you described, but it can be hard for the typical person to understand how it would be possible that an organization tasked with protecting global health would fail like this. What does China have on the WHO?
Dr. Corr: … On December 8, there was evidence or suspicions in China of human-to-human transmission. That information got quashed. Additional evidence happened later on–there was transmission to medical workers in China–all of that information got quashed by the Chinese Communist Party who is incentivized to have a message for the world that “Hey, there’s no problem here. Let’s keep doing business.”
With the U.S. alone, you’ve got $600 trillion prior to the tariffs. You have $600 trillion of business every year, exports and imports, with the United States alone. … China’s the world’s biggest importer-exporter globally …. The fact that there could be an outbreak, or even worse an epidemic in China, is information they don’t want the world to have because that would start shutting down borders; start closing off imports and exports. So, they’re incentivized to keep this information from the world.
They in turn then put pressure on people like Dr. Tedros of the WHO not to reveal this information or play down the threat to human health worldwide. We don’t know exactly, with Dr. Tedros, what the issue was. He seemed to take a pro-China position even though his information [indicated] that he should have taken a pro-global health position, which is his job. So, to gather that, you really have to start investigating him personally, his relationship with China personally, and it could be anything.
… Aren’t there many cases known and proved of the Chinese government or state-owned corporations offering bribes to elected officials …. There’s a couple of cases about this that’s out there, that have been proven. There’s the case of the … President of the UN General Assembly, John Ashe. … He was bribed by the Chinese to put in a convention center in Macau and to approve that. I think what happened was when he turned [into a] witness for the U.S. government, he mysteriously died. He died under a barbell in his apartment in New York, and the official story is it’s suffocation; it’s an accident. But how likely is that right before he’s supposed to go and testify against the Chinese that he randomly dies under a barbell? I think it’s quite unlikely.
You see a lot of these instances where you have the carrot and the stick: … high-level Chinese communist officials who suddenly die of heart attack, or fall off a cliff and die, or something. Then [there are] other instances where people are making a lot of money and are proven to be bribed. So, it’s possible that Dr. Tedros fears for his life; it’s possible that he is looking at the carrot of lots of money after he leaves office, or even while he’s in office.
We don’t know until we see more investigation, but we know the methods of the Chinese Communist Party are very clear–they played dirty and they’re out to expand their economy, and their military, and their global control, and also the control that they have over the local population. Because their top goal is to stay in power, that’s what they want to do, and they want to expand their power. Part of the way they stay in power is by expanding their power globally because, I guess, they think that’s what their population responds to.
Mr. Jekielek: I want to dig into this deeper in this U.S. and global context. We’ve discussed with other guests that this whole pandemic situation is bringing this very scary reality into the spotlight, especially with the WHO and so forth. What do you make of the fact that Wuhan was locked down internally from internal flights earlier than China stopped international flights, outside? This is something a lot of people have been commenting on and questioning. Also, China criticized the U.S. travel ban, all the while having a lockdown within their country. What do you make of that?
Dr. Corr: It seems very hypocritical for China, on the one hand, to lock down Wuhan and not allow people from Wuhan to go to Beijing, all the while allowing people from Wuhan to go anywhere in the world and claiming very loudly that there shouldn’t be any travel bans against China. It’s entirely hypocritical and arguably this is what caused the global pandemic.
Because China has done so many things wrong, there’s now a lot of talk about holding China legally liable for what they’ve done. There’s an excellent piece written by a professor at the U.S. Naval War College who is also at Harvard (Law School), James Kraska, and he claims that China is on the hook for trillions of USD, only counting the economic stimulus that several OECD countries have put in place. … That was written a few weeks ago. That doesn’t count additional stimulus since then, and it definitely doesn’t count the pain and suffering of all the people that have died, generally the economies that have crashed, and how much has been lost economically. So, China is really on the hook economically.
Not only are they on the hook economically, but they have a lot of assets around the world that can be attached by countries whether that’s debt owed to China by Pakistan, or Sri Lanka, or Ethiopia, or any of these (countries), or the United States. We have over a trillion dollars in debt to China, and it certainly the damages to the U.S. from COVID-19 are over a trillion dollars. So, in my mind, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t, through a court of law, see if they’re liable for what they’ve done. If they are, then we say, “We selectively will not pay that debt. We’re using that debt to pay back the damages that COVID-19 has caused us, and that the Chinese Communist Party has caused.”
In addition to all that, of course there are many, many assets in the United States that are owned by China. For example, big hotel chains, lots of companies, technology companies, there’s an aircraft company in Minnesota called “Cirrus” that I’ve looked into that is owned by China, or state-owned enterprises. All of these can be attached, I think, to pay for what China has done. Not only that, but until China pays for what it’s done, we can legally take any measure that’s necessary, short of violence or war, but we can do things like refuse to allow Chinese diplomats to go to the UN. We have a legal right to take measures such as that against China until they fully recompense us for the damages they’ve done.
Mr. Jekielek: To your point, there’s a number of lawsuits here in the U.S. too now, I think, by the Berman Law Group. We’ve interviewed them somewhat recently about one of those lawsuits. There’s even been a referral to the International Criminal Court from what I’ve heard, so, I think there’s a lot of people thinking along these lines in pragmatic terms. There is the issue of influence in the U.S., as well as international influence. You recently wrote a piece related to this Asia Society sponsored letter promoting that China and the U.S. has to cooperate in order to work things out with respect to the coronavirus–or CCP virus, we call it–pandemic. You argue taking the position of “no cooperation”, [while] the other side says, “Well, we need some cooperation, whatever has happened.” Why are you taking the position of no cooperation?
Dr. Corr: … Since 1972 or 1971, since we opened to China, since Kissinger and Nixon opened to China, the story has been, “Let’s cooperate with China. Let’s do business with China. In that process, they’re going to democratize; they’re going to become more reasonable; they’re going to become more transparent. Things are going to be better.” But what we’ve seen is that through the process of cooperation, they have grown their economy massively, and that economy and that new economic power is what’s fueling their military growth.
They’ve decided to use their economic growth not to help their people but to expand their military. Today, they’re building more navy ships than we are, every year. They’re outbuilding us. They’ve got huge fleets already. They already have a bigger fleet than we do by number of hauls. We have a bigger fleet than they do by tonnage. They beat us on some other things. For example, their anti-ship cruise missiles can outrange our anti-ship cruise missiles, which is a very dangerous thing. [In] a one-ship-on-one-ship battle, like two battleships who are out in the sea alone, then it’s a very dangerous situation for the U.S. Navy to be outgunned in that way. They’ve put a lot of money into their nuclear missile capabilities, so they’ve got nuclear missiles now that can destroy entire US aircraft carrier groups.
A lot of the military advantages that we’ve had over the years that we’ve, I think, tried to use for good in terms of stabilizing the world, decreasing nuclear proliferation, ensuring that one country doesn’t invade another country like Iraq did, are now being canceled out. Those military advantages are now being canceled out by China. We’re going into a much more dangerous world, and a lot of people don’t even quite realize that because we haven’t had a military conflict with China. Were we to have a military conflict with China, we’re in a much more difficult situation, and China knows that.
Because China knows that their military is starting to rival us regionally in Asia, they are claiming, according to the Kissinger’s school of “realism”, and I put “realism” in quotes, … that they think they should have more territory; they think they should have more influence in Asia. They think that because they have a bigger military, our military should retreat from Asia. You have proposals out there that Korea should become a unified pro-Beijing government; should be a unified state that’s pro-Beijing.
Beijing is pushing very hard to get the entire South China Sea recognized as its own territory, and that is a huge piece of water that’s the same size as India, actually. It is so big, it has trillions of dollars worth of oil and gas in it. I think one-third of global shipping goes through the South China Sea. It’s got a lot of fishermen traditionally over centuries; millennia, really. The fishermen from countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, have all used the South China Sea through artisanal fishing to feed their villages and feed their families. Now you have China coming into the South China Sea claiming it as their own.
In 2009, they distributed a note for parlé to every country in the United Nations that had attached to it a map with the so-called nine-dash line that has now been found in 2016 to be invalid, but they still claim that. They ignore the International Court that said that the nine-dash line is invalid. And just the other day, they sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat. They’ve gone up against the Indonesians and pushed them around. It’s a form of bullying, right? And then you have Taiwan. So, because China’s power is growing, they think they have a right to take over Taiwan.
They’re pushing that. … General Secretary Xi Jinping has threatened war against Taiwan not too long ago, and also threatened war against the Philippines if they pursue their claim in the South China Sea. And the claim in the South China Sea of the Philippines is in accord with the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea which gives them the right to Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ. So, you’ve got this behemoth power, the Chinese Communist Party, who because of their growing economic power has been able to expand their military power, and that military power is now making them think and act as though they can bully all the other countries around them that don’t have the same level of economic power.
That’s where cooperation has gotten us. And so, any sane person looking at history since the early 1970s will say, “Okay, clearly cooperation has gotten us in a worse place today than we were in 1972. So, why should we continue cooperation?” And the answer is, I think, for a lot of business elites, they’re making money today on cooperation. They’re making money through that $600 billion worth of trade with China every year, and that’s a lot of money, and they want to keep that going.
They’re not thinking about the decades that have passed. They’re not thinking about the fact that China is using this cooperation to gain military and territorial advantage. They’re just thinking about the next financial quarter, and I’ve been told this by CEOs of major corporations who tell me they’re not thinking long term. In fact, they are selling out their own shareholders for their own short term gains.
So, you have a CEO who is making a decision to do a business deal with China that involves building major aircraft engines or aircraft bodies in China. In order to build that aircraft in China, you will have a lot of technology lost to China, because of course the Chinese are going to soak all that knowledge and expertise up. It’s well known that China is building their own general aircraft aviation industry that they want to compete with Boeing and Airbus. But the CEOs of these big corporations aren’t thinking 10 or 20 years out as they should be for their shareholders. They’re thinking, “How can I get a $1 trillion deal or a $500 billion deal with China this year which will pump up the stock price short term, and my CEO benefits and income will kick in a big way in the short term? By the time the technology is lost to China, and China builds a general aviation industry that destroys the shares of my company, I’ll be long gone with all my stock options, and I don’t have to worry about that. That’s my shareholders’ loss.”
So, you have a situation where the fiduciary responsibility of the CEOs is being compromised, and they’re selling out to China for their own personal gain according to my sources. This is something that the … average shareholders of Boeing or Airbus are not following. …This is how China can influence corporate leaders, political leaders, academic leaders to not do what’s right by their institutions, or their countries, or the corporations, but rather look out for number one. And that’s the sad truth.
Mr. Jekielek: Deeply disturbing if you’re hearing this from multiple sources. We’re aware of some of this, of course, but I have a couple of questions. First of all, I think some of the people that signed on to this Asia Society letter might say, “Well, okay, fine. But in the medical fields, we have to cooperate. Otherwise it’s not going to work.” What would you say to them?
Dr. Corr: Well, if you look at that letter, the areas for cooperation are paired fairly thin. One of them is vaccine development. … As soon as you have one American case, you’ve got access to the virus DNA, [and] you’ve got access to what you need to develop a vaccine, I think. I forget exactly what the other point of potential cooperation they suggested was, but it’s more of a mantra; it’s more of a belief that “Oh, cooperation can be good,” and then they throw out a couple things that maybe they can cooperate on.
We’ve seen that China has failed to cooperate on the most fundamental way that they should have, and could have, which was to alert the world, in a very timely manner back on December 8 on the very first suspicion of human-to-human transmission, that there could be a big problem. If they had done that, if they had even only been honest with themselves that this human-to-human transmission was happening, … through contract tracing, they could have contained the outbreak to Wuhan. They didn’t do that. They weren’t being honest with themselves probably.
Wuhan Chinese Communist Party members probably didn’t want to make Beijing upset, so [they] didn’t let any of that information out, and then as Beijing figured out, Beijing didn’t want to make the world upset, so they also didn’t let the information out. It’s a very unfortunate situation that they did not alert the WHO, the CDC, or the world to this great grave danger and instead tried to just let it take its course, and that’s exactly what it did. Now we’ve got hundreds of thousands dead, and the economies are crashing.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s jump to this other point you’ve raised here which is the influence that the Chinese Communist Party yields in the multinational corporate sector, let’s say that whole sphere. There’s been a lot of talk of “decoupling”, basically moving industries, especially key industries like medicine and the precursors to medical products and things like that, reshoring them back to the U.S., getting rid of some of this economic dependence, interdependence, which is a national security risk according to some. What are your thoughts?
Dr. Corr: I completely agree. I think that decoupling is a very good idea. There’s two reasons. One, when we decouple with China, we avoid giving them more economic power. We cut off their source of strength, which is their trade with all of the world’s economies. So, if we can do that, especially if we can do that in a joint fashion with the EU, Japan, South Korea, Australia, other countries on which China depends, we can really pressure China to improve its human rights, to stop making territorial claims to all the countries around it, to let the water flow through the Mekong again.
We didn’t even mention that, but they’re shutting off water to the Mekong which affects a bunch of countries in Southeast Asia. They’ve got dams that could affect the Brahmaputra River that goes through Bangladesh, and these people depend on this water flowing through their countries and China’s not allowing that. So anyway, if we decouple, we can incentivize China to improve its relationship to all these countries and improve its relationship to its own people in terms of improved human rights.
Secondly, the pandemic has really made clear that we were caught flat-footed and didn’t have the ventilators we need [and] the face masks we need. These are pretty simple things. They’re not high tech items; they’re not like jet fighters, right? … We didn’t have enough of that stuff when we needed it. Not only that, but we didn’t have the ability to rapidly ramp up production like we should have been able to, if we needed to. So, we need a way in which we’re not dependent on China for those kinds of items, and it goes way beyond that. Life-saving pharmaceuticals … like antibiotics, we’re not able to supply those for ourselves should there be a real emergency.
Let’s say, a lot of our military spending right now is geared towards deterring China. Now, our latest jet fighters actually have parts in them that are from China. So, it’s a little bit crazy for us to think that we can deter China with a military system that is dependent on China for its progression. So, if you had a war or a military conflict, even localized military conflict, your bargaining power is dramatically decreased if your adversary, China, doesn’t believe that you can do much with your fighting systems, your jet fighters, or your other parts that are dependent on China, and they know that they can turn off the spigot of spare parts at any time.
… This is what Peter Navarro is doing. He’s been doing it and talking about this for decades. … Peter Navarro is the Whitehouse guy in charge of ensuring that U.S. industry is back on its feet, and one of his main messages is “economic security is national security”. We need to be economically strong. We need to have supply chains in the United States that aren’t dependent on our adversaries, because as soon as you’re dependent on your adversary for something, they have the chain around your neck, and there’s not much you can do. … For those two reasons, we need independence to be strong, and we don’t want to feed our enemies; our adversaries.
Decoupling is a very good idea, and we can do so in a moderate, slow fashion, a very meticulous and careful fashion, so that all of a sudden, “We don’t have antibiotics”, we don’t want that to happen. But we do need to think about how to stage a process … of decoupling until China improves itself. If China improves itself, for example, by becoming a democracy, which is a big ask, but we should be asking that. That’s exactly what we should want because as soon as they democratize, they’re no longer really a threat. Countries that are democracies never go to war against each other. They treat their people well because their people are voting for their leaders, so as soon as China becomes a democracy, we can relax again and we don’t have to be so worried about decoupling from China. But until that point, they are actually a threat to their people and to us, and we should really consider disincentivizing that and stopping empowering our enemy.
Mr. Jekielek: Anders, we could talk for hours about the terrible ways in which the Chinese Communist Party treats the people that are under its control. You recently wrote about how the Chinese Communist Party is treating foreigners or expats in China, notably people from Africa, while at the same time criticizing the U.S. as being racist for calling it “Chinese coronavirus” or “Wuhan coronavirus”, or something like this. I’d love it if you could speak about this.
Dr. Corr: COVID-19 has really expanded racism across the board in countries with xenophobia. You do have some cases, for example, in the U.S. and Britain where there have been attacks on people that look Asian, so that’s undeniably true. However, these cases are generally individuals; they’re always individuals. They’re lone wolves who are acting out like this, and they’re being prosecuted by the government. They’re being subjected to very negative media reporting.
However, in China, the same kind of xenophobia [and] racism is being played out at the institutional governmental level. So, you have, for example, Guangzhou, which is close to Shenzhen and Hong Kong. It’s a manufacturing hub, and the government there has taken very strong action against the African community. So much so that about two-thirds of that African community has now moved out of Guangzhou and essentially fled.
You used to have over 10,000 Africans living there. There were a lot of traders who were sending import-export back to Kenya and Nigeria, and things, and now those people are moving out. The reason they’re moving out is that they’re being systematically targeted by the Guangzhou government. They’re being evicted from their homes; they’re not allowed to go into restaurants; they’re not allowed to go into hotels or grocery stores; the only way they’re able to eat now is through donations.
… There’s lots of footage online now [of] the Nigerian embassy delivering food parcels to Africans who are living on the streets of Guangzhou. It’s a very sad situation. Even McDonald’s in Guangzhou had a statement that basically said, “Sorry, we can’t feed you. Please report to the police for medical isolation.” These are against all people that look African, right? So, African Americans have been caught up in this. They have no history necessarily of [being in] contact with any COVID-19 cases; they have no history of going to countries with COVID-19 outbreaks; there’s no rational relationship with why they’re being targeted. There have been rumors, some of which have been amplified by the government itself, of Africans who are ignoring quarantine rules, in some really inflammatory language that is being used to justify this.
[As for the response from] the government in Beijing, there’s one small comment from one of the government officials in the foreign ministry that basically said, “Oh, Wuhan has to correct itself.” Other than that, there’s been a flood of material coming from the government of Beijing denying that there’s a problem; saying that they treat all foreigners the same. To be fair, there are some cases also of Caucasians and other foreigners in China that are also not allowed to go to restaurants, or book hotels, or being kicked out of their apartments. But I think the African community in China is facing a much more serious [problem with racism].
You’ve got video footage of riot police in Guangzhou that are herding Africans down the street, and these Africans have nowhere to go. They’re obviously trying to push. They’re being told to go to another city. My guess is that a lot of them have gone back to Africa or have somehow tried to go to some other city out of Guangzhou. But the central government in Beijing is not doing anything against this racism, anything at all. This is just the latest instance of extreme racism that we find in China. In the past, it’s been the Tibetans and the Uyghurs, and there’s even quasi-racism against Hong Kong or if you speak a different language, Cantonese. And with the riot police, they’re calling them “cockroaches” and being very brutal, brutally suppressing their demand for democracy.
So there’s this really concerning racism coming back out of China. … You also have a case in 2016 where there was a commercial for laundry detergent. In this commercial, there’s a Chinese woman looking at this lascivious African man who’s approaching her in a sexual way, and she puts the laundry detergent in his mouth, stuffs him into the laundry machine, and there’s muffled screams as he goes through a cycle, and then she opens up the laundry machine and outcomes this “clean” Chinese man. This was around for months being shown in China without any real complaint by anyone. And then it was picked up by some English media and criticized. It got some coverage in The Guardian and other places, and it was extremely criticized. But there’s plenty of cultural racism against Africans that goes quite far back, most recently with COVID-19.
You also have a Chinese cartoon that recently showed Africans and white Caucasians being stuffed into garbage cans as a way to somehow combat COVID-19 by Chinese workers in pandemic white Tyvek suit type things, with goggles and face masks.
There’s racism there and it’s not being taken very seriously by the Chinese government. Of course, the Chinese government itself is almost entirely of Han ethnicity. And I personally believe that ethnicity and race is a construction, but it’s made for political purposes; it’s created for political purposes. But all of the top government officials have always been Han. There’s never been a leader of (modern) China that’s been anything but Han, and so racism is a very deeply held thing in that culture, and we’re seeing it come out, including against Caucasians now since China and the Chinese population believes that they’re better than the West at combating the pandemic because of their authoritarian system. It’s also fueling racism and xenophobia in the country.
Mr. Jekielek: Somehow I missed this Laundromat commercial. It’s just wild and crazy and horrible, is all I can say. It’s kind of almost hard to fathom, frankly. Is the Chinese Communist Party using that mentality or predisposition in the population to basically divert culpability from itself?
Dr. Corr: Right. … This is the Chinese version of reality. They’ve claimed that they didn’t have any more cases, that they had defeated the disease, the pandemic, in their own country. Logically any new cases in China must be coming from outside, if that’s true, right? That’s their argument; they claim that new cases are coming from outside. You have Xi Jinping claiming that the country has to be particularly observant and vigilant against outside cases coming in. Then you have China closing off its borders to outside foreigners. … Somehow that’s translated to foreigners that were already in the country and seen as a particular threat, which really makes no sense because once you’re in the country, you’re in the country. …
If you haven’t gone out of the country, you’re the same as any other Chinese person, but that’s not how the public is seeing it, and the government in Beijing has done nothing to stamp down these xenophobic feelings towards people that were already there. One African guy who got deprived of his home had not been out of the country for four years. It just makes no sense to target him. There’s no rational reason to target him.
What China is doing is really shooting itself in its own foot because people are looking at this and realizing that China’s not really a safe place to go, it’s not a safe place to do business if you look white, or if you look African, if you look like anything other than a Han Chinese. So it’s not good for China’s economy, it’s not good for China’s future, and I would hope people figure that out and eventually change out the Chinese Communist Party and Xi Jinping at the top. Otherwise, their economy is not going to go well for long, because people are starting to react against what they’re doing.
Mr. Jekielek: We were talking earlier, of course, about [China’s influence over] the WHO. [Now,] I’m thinking about the human rights situation that you mentioned. Even this whole vantage point of racism speaks to that, frankly. Recently, China has been added to the UN Human Rights Council, which a lot of people had big questions about, obviously. Again, this speaks to the level of [China’s] influence in international organizations. Now China is going to be in a position to basically help pick the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur in involuntary disappearance, these roles which to my eye were some of the valuable mechanisms of the UN Human Rights Council. It seems like it’s not just the WHO that the Chinese Communist Party has influence over. There are numerous organizations, and now we’re even seeing the Human Rights Council potentially being compromised. What are your thoughts?
Dr. Corr: China has had outsized influence in all of the UN organizations for far too long. How exactly they’re doing this is a little bit of a mystery, given that their donations are not high, and also their practices are horrible. It’s patently obvious to everyone as soon as they see that China is on the UN Human Rights Council that there’s a big problem. Part of the problem is that it was a mistake for the U.S. under Trump to leave the UN Human Rights Council. We shouldn’t have done that.
There’s a big difference between physically absenting your representative from the UN Human Rights Council and defunding something. You can say, “Okay, you’re not acting appropriately. I’m not going to empower you with money,” which is what we did with the WHO, which was the right thing to do. With the UN Human Rights Council, instead of doing that, we removed our representative. That leaves a power vacuum that can be filled by China and China’s allies, and that’s exactly what’s happened. So, we need to figure out a way to take back control of the Human Rights Council.
It’s not just us; it’s people who believe in human rights. We want countries like Britain, or Germany, or Japan, or Taiwan–we want these kinds of countries on the Human Rights Council, so that we can hold China to account for what it’s doing. As long as China’s in charge and China’s allies are in charge, many of whom are also egregious human rights abusers, you’re going to see the exact opposite. The Human Rights Council is going to be deployed against the United States, against other countries that are trying to hold the world security system together. I have no doubt that there will be new case cases brought up at that council about Iraq, about Afghanistan, anything that’s going to make the U.S. look bad. We have had our problems; we’ve done some things that aren’t the right thing to do, and we should be held to account for that.
The problem is that China will use the Human Rights Council to unfairly target only us and never talk about what’s going on in China. Because of the rules of the UN Human Rights Council and the advantage that states have over nonprofit organizations that are really committed to human rights, the voices of nonprofit organizations are cut out. They’re not allowed in the room; you’ve got constant interruptions when they try to bring up human rights issues.
The system needs to be fixed, and the way I see it, one way to fix it is to deny China access to the UN grounds in New York City. The U.S. government could do that just by not letting their diplomats cross the border, can say, “Hey, we don’t think that you guys are upholding the principles of the United Nations as established in the Atlantic Charter of 1941; as established in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. You clearly are not following the spirit of the UN which is as an organization to stop territorial expansionism,” which is what China is doing in the South China Sea [and] the East China Sea against Taiwan. They’re not following these basic principles that the UN was founded to establish and promote globally.
The UN is there to stop the next Hitler from coming around or to stop the next Nazi party from coming around, but China is exactly that kind of level of problem in the future. It’s a country that’s acting like Nazi Germany in the 1930s. But it’s a country that also has a stranglehold on the UN. They have the votes of the UN General Assembly. They can veto anything that happens in front of the UN Security Council and they’re taking over organizations through their influence. How they are doing that needs more investigation. I would argue it’s probably bribes and threats. Through their influence, they’re taking over organizations like the World Health Organization, the UN Human Rights Council, and the General Assembly President.
This needs to be fixed, and I don’t see how you’re going to easily fix it as long as China has a seat on the UN Security Council. The only way to really get rid of it from there is to bar its representatives. Of course, that would create a huge diplomatic crisis. That would be a constitutional crisis for the UN, and you might even have a few dozen countries that are closest allies to China protest and write protest statements and refuse to allow their diplomats into the UN building in New York–which would be fine; we can handle that.
As it stands now, the UN is arguably doing more damage than good because it is being overly influenced by China. People think that we have a system of global governance in place that can help the world, but actually what’s happening is China is using their influence and power at that institution to guide it towards further empowering China. If we pass some sort of a tipping point, you might find a situation where China eventually becomes a global hegemon, and that’s a very dangerous place to be.
A few years ago, some Americans thought that we, the U.S., was the global hegemon in the 90s after the fall of the Soviet Union. We thought we had won. [Francis] Fukuyama from Stanford said that we have reached the end of history, and now we’re just going to have a beautiful future of democracy and liberalism. We fought, and the U.S. was the only superpower. That lasted about 10 years, and then in 2008, after the financial crash, China really decided that it wanted to compete with the U.S. for global influence. It’s doing so very, very effectively to the point where the future of democracy and liberalism is under threat. So, for this reason, I think we need to take this stronger and more principled stance with more backbone to try to deny China access to international organizations and also to build up our own independence from China.
Mr. Jekielek: Any final words before we finish up?
Dr. Corr: Thank you very much. It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you. I’ve found the show enlightening, and your discourse has been really great, so I appreciate it.
Mr. Jekielek: So wonderful to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Dr. Corr: Thank you.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.