What’s really behind the protests in Hong Kong, where an estimated 2 million people—almost one-third of the city’s population—took to the streets on June 16? What do the people of Hong Kong stand to lose?
Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and a founding member of the Committee on the Present Danger: China, sat down to discuss these issues, and more, with Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek. They discussed how the Hong Kong protests and the trade war relate to the Chinese state’s practice of forcibly harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience, and how, when it comes to dealing with China, the current administration can learn from policies President Ronald Reagan applied to the Soviet Union.
Jan Jekielek: So you’re the author of “Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream Is the New Threat to World Order.” And in the past few days, we’re seeing quite a few Hongkongers feeling a China threat. There were 2 million people. That’s 30 percent of the population of Hong Kong in the streets [on June 16]. I find that astounding and moving. This level of civil disobedience … I don’t even know if there’s an analog to that that I can think of, off the top of my head. Why don’t you break down for us what’s going on over there?
Steven Mosher: Well, if you think about it, 30 percent of the population is an amazing percentage. If that number of people in the United States came out to demonstrate, that would be 100 million people in the streets. So, you see, I think, the level of fear in Hong Kong at the constant encroaching of the Chinese Communist Party on the freedoms that they’ve enjoyed in Hong Kong for almost the past two centuries—under first the British rule of law and then later under the Sino–British agreement—it all seems now in jeopardy.
Hong Kong people know better than anyone else: What lies across the border is a corrupt communist regime with a corrupt judiciary. And the issue was, of course, this extradition treaty, which would have put every Hongkonger at risk of being sent to China for a show trial—a kangaroo court—the outcome of which would be predetermined by the Chinese Communist Party. About 15 years ago, the Party issued a directive saying that all court disputes between Chinese and foreigners were to be resolved in principle in the direction of the Chinese plaintiff. So there is a built-in—
Mr. Jekielek: Unbelievable.
Mr. Mosher: Prejudice, and that would have applied to people in Hong Kong as well. So, I think that’s what brought them out in the streets. They saw their hard-won freedom eroding away, and this was a watershed moment. I hope they win. I hope the extradition treaty is dropped permanently. I hope they get a new governor of Hong Kong. Carrie Lam needs to resign. If the will of the people of Hong Kong is followed, that will happen. But, of course, events in Hong Kong are dictated, not by the people of Hong Kong, but by the leaders in Beijing. So, we’ll have to see what happens.
Mr. Jekielek: So, a week ago, there were a million people in the streets, specifically talking about this or standing up against this extradition bill. … We have people on the ground over there from our friends at China Uncensored: Chris Chappell, and so forth. Basically, they’re seeing that these protests are one: precisely to ask the chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, to step down. And the second thing, to stop labeling the protesters as rioters. The government has called these things riots. And we have some great footage showing it’s like hardly that, right? There’s the crowd opening up wide for an ambulance that needs to come through and then closing. No, this is some of the most organized protests I frankly have ever seen. What kind of people are out there? Who is out there in your view?
Mr. Mosher: Well, I saw a scene where you had many young people singing hymns in the face of the police. That’s certainly not a threatening gesture. But I think what brought 2 million people out this time, as opposed to 1 million the first time, was the police brutality that we saw in response to the continuing protests. When they surrounded the government headquarters—the protestors—the police came in, not just with batons and riot gear, and not just with tear gas. They were actually firing bullets, rubber bullets to be sure. But a rubber bullet fired from 5 or 10 feet away can do a lot of damage. And protestors were injured, a couple seriously. And I think that’s the first time this has happened in Hong Kong. I think this is the first time we’ve seen the Hong Kong police react with this kind of brutality.
In the past, they’ve always been more under control. And I think the people of Hong Kong saw in the reaction of the police and the future that they would face if they were ever under the direct control of Beijing. We know that in Beijing, they don’t fire rubber bullets, do they? They fire real bullets, and they roll out real tanks, and they run over people in the streets. And they are not very far away from the government headquarters. There is a barracks in Hong Kong where several thousand People’s Liberation Army troops—Red Army troops—are stationed, and they’re ready to be called out at any time. So the people of Hong Kong know what’s waiting for them if they continue down this road.
Mr. Jekielek: Right. And so Carrie Lam, the chief executive, first of all, she says that she’s going to submit herself to criticism and be humble and so forth. This is a recent statement that came out in response to these 2 million apparent people in the streets. Is she just a proxy for Beijing? Is that how the protesters see her? How do you see her?
Mr. Mosher: Well, Beijing decides who sits on the Legislative Council, and they have forced off the Legislative Council several young democratic activists, who refuse to swear allegiance to the People’s Republic of China. So there’s that. Yes, I think all of these elections in Hong Kong are orchestrated behind the scenes by Beijing, by the Chinese Communist Party’s Department of Hong Kong Affairs. And so Carrie Lam is Beijing’s pick as the previous governor was Beijing’s pick and so forth—chief executive, we call them now. And I do recall when Deng Xiaoping first visited Hong Kong after the signing of the Sino-British agreement years ago, he was asked about the future leaders of Hong Kong. Were they going to be appointed, he was asked by the Hong Kong press, by imperial edict, and he rose up out of his chair to his full height of about 5 feet, 2 [inches], and said, don’t you dare talk to me like that.
And you could see that he fully intended to issue imperial edicts to control Hong Kong from that point forward. So press freedom is under attack. We have seen people refused entry to Hong Kong now. We have seen people in Hong Kong—five booksellers for example—a couple of years ago secretly arrested and taken across the border to be tried in China. So we’ve already seen the rule of law eroding at the edges.
Mr. Jekielek: And this extradition law would actually apply to visitors as well, right?
Mr. Mosher: That’s right. No one would be safe. If you were simply transiting Hong Kong—and a lot of people transit Hong Kong every year—and you were on a list of people compiled by the Chinese Communist Party, the Beijing Ministry of Public Security, to be arrested, you would be arrested upon arrival and then sent over the border to Hong Kong. So what is really at risk here, of course, is freedom for the people of Hong Kong, first of all. But Beijing has a lot to lose in this struggle as well—has a tremendous amount to lose because Hong Kong is the goose that lays golden eggs. Every year, it produces tremendous amounts of wealth for the People’s Republic of China. It also gives corrupt bureaucrats, corrupt Party members in China, a safe place to put their money. So a lot of the apartment buildings and and business complexes in Hong Kong are owned by communist leaders who think their money will be secure in Hong Kong.
If Hong Kong falls in the sense of being brought under the rule of law of China, or the lack of rule of law of China, then property values will plummet. Hong Kong will no longer be one of the leading financial centers in the world because money and property will no longer be safe there under the misrule of the Chinese Communist Party. So capital and money will flee to Singapore and to other financial centers in Asia. And it will mean not only the death of freedom in Hong Kong, but the death of prosperity in Hong Kong as well. And I think if anything stays the hand of the corrupt Chinese Communist Party, it will be the personal losses that will be suffered by the leaders of the Party who have so much of their wealth invested in Hong Kong.
Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating, and something just struck me actually. In a communist society, we know that basically, the people are seen as serving the party, right? As opposed to, ideally in a democratic society, the government works for the people. Is this the Hong Kong people saying, hey, wait a second, Carrie Lam, you work for us, not the other way around.
Mr. Mosher: Well, that’s what they would like to say. They would like to have democratic rule. I think the British rule of law, the British sense of fair play, the incorrupt British civil servants, who came to Hong Kong to run the colony for many years, set a great example of how to stay within the bounds, how not to abuse your power. If there’s one thing I would have faulted Chris Patten for, my old friend who was the last governor of Hong Kong, is that Britain moved too slowly in the direction of local democratic rule. The Legislative Council by 1997 should all have been locally elected. It wasn’t. Some members were locally elected, others were still appointed.
And when Britain turned over Hong Kong in 1997 to the “tender mercies” of the Chinese Communist Party, the plan was by 2017, the entire Legislative Council of Hong Kong would be democratically elected. That’s what China agreed to. That’s what Great Britain insisted upon. Well, we got to 2017, and what happened? The head of the Hong Kong Affairs Office said about that treaty—he tore it up—he said that that treaty has only historical value. Which is to say it has no relevance for what’s happening today, and they refused to move to an entirely democratically elected local legislature. I think we could have foreseen that happening.
Mr. Jekielek: So after the UK passed over control, we were supposed to have one country, two systems, and it certainly started that way. And then you started talking about this earlier, that these freedoms are being encroached upon. But the U.S. has a special relationship with Hong Kong that’s different—even with the increasing openness to mainland China, there’s still a different relationship. How is that being encroached upon, and should there be some kind of reassessment here?
Mr. Mosher: Yes. After the Sino-British agreement was signed, we took that agreement at face value. We took that as a promise not just from Great Britain, but from Beijing, that Hong Kong would be allowed to keep its separate economic and political system for the next 50 years. And we understood that China would have a lot to say about events in Hong Kong, but that they would not directly interfere. And so we signed a separate, we passed a separate law granting Hong Kong and Hong Kong people unique status. We didn’t recognize Hong Kong as a country, but we gave them many privileges that are associated with having a nation, concerning immigration, for example, economic affairs and all the rest, trade matters. That’s all now in jeopardy. There is now a bill before Congress to have an annual review of the U.S.-Hong Kong relationship. And if Hong Kong fails to meet certain standards in terms of human rights, then that existing relationship will be fundamentally changed.
So if Hong Kong loses its special status with the United States, that would be another major, major hit to the economy. That’s not something, again, that China wants to see. Xi Jinping is under tremendous pressure right now because of our ongoing trade dispute with China. And this issue in Hong Kong only increases that pressure because a lot of the trade that comes to the United States through Hong Kong is put in the category of trade between the U.S. and Hong Kong. It’s really trade between the U.S. and China, but it’s sort of put in a separate category now. If they lose that ability to treat Hong Kong as a separate category in trade terms, then that affects the tariffs as well. And that’s another hit to the Chinese economy.
Mr. Jekielek: Significantly. So what do you think the options are for the Chinese Communist Party here? Aside from saying “Let’s abolish the CCP [Chinese Communist Party], let’s do the freedom thing.”
Mr. Mosher: Well, they faced that choice in June 4, 1989, and they made the wrong decision. They moved in the direction of increasing tyranny and totalitarianism. But in terms of Hong Kong, I think that the leaders in Beijing will probably force Carrie Lam to resign. They may withdraw the extradition treaty entirely—I hope so—and renew their pledge to enforce the one country, two systems promise. Right now, we have one country, one-and-a-half systems.
You can see the two systems eroding away. And the other impact of this, of course, is on Taiwan and the overseas Chinese in general who see, once again, Beijing breaking its promises.
Mr. Jekielek: Wouldn’t this be, if they did as you’re suggesting, that seems to be a lot of losing face for Xi Jinping and the regime. They don’t like that.
Mr. Mosher: Well, face is an interesting thing. And I know a lot of sinologists in the United States and in the West, and a lot of so-called China experts spend a lot of time worrying about saving face for Chinese leaders like Xi Jinping. I spend no time worrying about that. You’ve got a Communist Party leader, who is now not just first among equals, but is the core leader—the first core leader we’ve seen in China since Mao Zedong—is directly in charge of the military, in charge of the government as president, in charge of the military as the General Secretary of the Central Military Commission, and in charge of the Communist Party as the General Secretary of the Party.
He controls all the levers of power. He controls the media, absolutely—the print media, electronic media. He has shut down any alternative media in China that existed 10 or 15 years ago. So he has absolute control of the media. Let him worry about his own face. He’s perfectly capable of saving his own face by lying to the Chinese people about the negotiations with Hong Kong, and by lying to the American people about the trade negotiations with the United States. So we shouldn’t be worried about saving Xi Jinping’s face. We should be worried about the interests of the American people and about human rights in general.
Mr. Jekielek: So there are a few independent media in China, and, actually, the Chinese Epoch Times is one of them. And our sister media, NTD, of course, they [the Chinese Communist Party] don’t like us there very much.
Mr. Mosher: Of course. But the Great Firewall is not perfect, and there are ways around it, I know. Congratulations on doing that work. I was involved, years ago in the aftermath of the Tiananmen massacre, in setting up Radio Free Asia.
Mr. Jekielek: Right, wow.
Mr. Mosher: I was on the commission, which I was appointed by the Republicans in the House. There were Democrats and Republicans on the commission, and we voted to set up Radio Free Asia and to fund it. Our thought then was that if we had a free radio broadcast service into China, that we would arm the Chinese people with the truth about what was happening in their own country.
Now, predictably, the Radio Free Asia broadcast from stations in Thailand have been blocked from their inception. You can hear them in parts of China, you can’t hear them in other parts of China. But for years, even to the present day, we’ve reported on labor unrest. We’ve reported on human rights violations. We’ve reported on the persecution of Falun Gong, persecution of Christians, Muslims, all religious groups—just telling the Chinese people what’s happening in their own country, bypassing the stranglehold that the Party has on the media and, we’re able to do that. I know The Epoch Times is able to do that, as well.
Mr. Jekielek: So what do you think about investing in this? Is this a good time? It strikes me as a fantastic time to invest in more of that. Both the historical record of the Chinese Communist Party, for example, because I think a lot of Chinese people just, especially the younger ones, aren’t aware. There’s this, amnesia; there’s even—there’s books about the amnesia around Tiananmen Square, forced amnesia, of course. And then, of course, the current reality. What do people in China even know about these protests in Hong Kong right now, given the current setup?
Mr. Mosher: Well, I think the people in Guangdong, which is a province immediately adjacent to Hong Kong, know precisely what’s going on. They speak the same dialect of Cantonese. As for the rest, if you get your news only from the state media, then you probably know nothing, except there were riots in Hong Kong. And, of course, the constant claim of the Chinese Communist Party is this: The Party says you may not like us very much. You may understand that we’re a tyranny, we’re a one-party dictatorship, and we violate your human rights. But we, after all, are the only alternative to chaos and instability. And you know the Party says how bad that can be. So they pose as the only force in China capable of maintaining order and stability and guaranteeing prosperity. Well, one leg of that triad is now threatened by the ongoing negotiations between China and the United States.
If the tariffs come into play across the whole gamut of Chinese imports, then the export sector of the Chinese economy will be devastated. Remember that the export sector of the Chinese economy is the only sector of the economy that operates according to market principles, and makes money. The rest of the economy is an old Stalinist state-planned nightmare. The Party itself consumes probably $1 trillion a year in wealth just on its salaries, on its resorts, on its vacations, on its foreign junkets, on the rest. So the Party itself is a great hurdle or handicap for the Chinese people that they have to carry a cross, carry through life.
The second thing, or burden, the Chinese people have to bear of course, is the state-owned sector of the …, which loses trillions of dollars a year. All of the state-owned economic enterprises lose money. China Railway, for example, is $750 billion in debt. They built beautiful high-speed rail lines all over China. Not one of those high-speed rail lines is making money. Not one of them is paying back the money it took to construct the rail line, which was probably two or three times what it should have cost because of corruption—officials on the take at every level of government. So without the export sector of the economy, and given the burden that the Chinese people have to bear for the state-owned sector of the economy and for the Party, without that export sector, I think that’s a shock through the Chinese system that it may not be able to sustain.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s really fascinating. Now, I’ve heard arguments that if the Chinese Communist Party were to implement some of these structural changes that the U.S. is demanding to basically even the playing field, not to have everything stacked toward Beijing as it has been for past decades, that that would potentially threaten the existence of the CCP itself. What do you think?
Mr. Mosher: Well, it’s less important what I think than what the Chinese Communist Party itself thinks. And we know very clearly what the Chinese Communist Party itself thinks about such things as civil society and the rule of law and property rights, and other things that go along with a modern-free market democracy. We know what they think because they published a directive in 2013 called “Directive Number 9,” which specifically lays out a series of threats to the continued rule of the Chinese Communist Party. And what are those threats? Well, civil society is seen as a threat. Civil society, of course, includes what? Freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom to organize religious associations—like home churches, like Falun Gong groups. All of that is seen as a direct threat to the continued rule of the Party.
The rule of law is seen as a direct threat to the rule of the Communist Party because it takes away from Party officials the authority to adjudicate everything, to make decisions themselves instead of submitting to laws that are written on the books. And you can go on down the line. So all of the things that we’re asking China to do in terms of leveling the playing field for American companies—stopping the incessant cyberattacks, the intellectual property theft, stopping subsidizing the China 2025 11 sectors of the economy to dominate the high-tech world of the future—all of the things we’re asking the Chinese Communist Party to do, the Chinese Communist Party, we know, sees those things as a direct threat to their authority.
So what is the Party to do? Is it to lose the export sector of the economy and revert to a total, totally state-planned economy, which we know doesn’t work, or are they to move in the direction of accepting some of the reforms that we’re asking them to do, which means limiting their own power and potentially putting them on the road to self-destruct.
Mr. Jekielek: The Party to self-destruct, you mean?
Mr. Mosher: The Party to self-destruct, and, of course, that’s a choice that I’m delighted the Chinese Communist Party has to make, because either way they wind up destroying themselves—either economically by refusing to meet the requirements of the international community when it comes to legal matters and trade or the other way, by agreeing to U.S. demands and then putting themselves on the road to losing power over time.
Mr. Jekielek: So you’re sounding like you’d be an advocate for a policy that would help end the Party.
Mr. Mosher: Well, I mean, my view is the Chinese Communist Party has been probably the biggest historical disaster that any political party has ever been to any nation and people in the world. And I say that because I look at the death toll of people who have died at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. And let’s not talk about the tens of millions who died during the Chinese Civil War.
Let’s just start in October of 1949 when Mao Zedong, one of the great mass murderers of human history, stood at the top of Tiananmen Gate and announced the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The land reform—10 million people died. The political purges of the late 1950s—millions more were killed. The Great Famine of the early 1960s, which was a man-made famine caused by the communes and by diversion of labor and resources to nonproductive ends—45 million people died. The Cultural Revolution—millions more perished. Then the ongoing purges and persecutions of the ’80s and ’90s, the persecution of the Falun Gong—how many people have died at the hands of the Communist Party who were Falun Gong practitioners? Then the 400 million—this is a big one—the 400 million unborn children. Well, some of them were actually born when they were killed—who were killed under the misguided one-child policy.
If you add the numbers together, we’re talking about a death toll in the range of 500 million people. Now, your normal Communist Party kills off about 10 percent of its population when it takes power. I mean, that’s the historical record. If you look at Cambodia (Pol Pot), Stalin in the Soviet Union, and so forth, the Chinese Communist Party has done far worse than that. They’ve killed off 20 percent, 25 percent of their population. That’s why I call the Communist Party the biggest killing machine in human history.
Mr. Jekielek: What kind of policies are you encouraging? Clearly, this new administration has taken a very different tack on China. We’ve discussed some of it already. What kind of policies would you advocate to hasten the end of this rule? I mean, just even listening to it here—and I’m aware roughly of all of this—I feel a little ill hearing it put that way. What kind of policies would you advocate for? Or are these the perfect policies that we’re seeing already?
Mr. Mosher: Well, I think we’re very close to having a complete set of policies toward China for the first time in decades. I was initially hopeful, after the opening to China back in 1979, that a million American businessmen going to China with their briefcases would bring not only investment opportunities and prosperity to China, they would also bring democratic ideals to China, that China as it modernized, as it developed its economy, would democratize at the same time. And we began to see that happening in the 1980s. There was a very strong pro-democracy movement in China.
Unfortunately, that ended with bloodshed in Tiananmen Square, and the Chinese Communist Party has been going in the wrong direction since. So for the first time, since the election of 2016, for the first time, we’ve had a clear-eyed policy toward China. It wasn’t at all clear to me, 10 years ago, for example, that China was not going to be able to cheat its way to the top, that we were simply—Republican and Democrat administrations alike—seemed to be turning a blind eye to the China threat.
They would complain about China’s cyberattacks but wouldn’t actually take any concrete action. They would complain about China’s manipulation of its currency, but they would take China’s promises to stop at face value.
You can never take the promises of the Chinese Communist Party at face value because they’re usually—they’re masters of deception. So, but since 2016, I think we’ve adopted policies that one way or another will put the Chinese Communist Party and the system that it controls under a tremendous strain. Either the tariffs will go in place across the board, 25 percent on all Chinese imports, which will cause massive numbers of companies to relocate away from China to other places that are cheaper to produce goods.
And we see that already. I mean, for example, Taiwan now has a “come back to Taiwan” policy. And I understand that a couple of hundred companies that decades ago moved their production to China are now considering coming back to Taiwan. They’re being given tax breaks and other incentives. And I think that’s happening with other countries as well. Samsung just closed its last factory in China and is moving production to new facilities in India.
I think that we ought to be—the United States and other countries—ought to be trading with countries, investing in countries that share our values and our democratic institutions. That means that we should be celebrating factories that move to, say, India, which is a democratic country, or to the Philippines or to Taiwan or to Mexico or even the United States. We should be celebrating that. The supply chains are beginning to move, and the export sector of the Chinese economy is beginning to suffer.
China no longer has a current account surplus. It was running surpluses of hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Now, it’s no longer running a surplus. They’ve still got $3 trillion in the bank, but they need about $2 trillion of that to maintain their currency. And you can see zero from here.
Mr. Jekielek: Tell me a little more for our audience’s benefit. What do you mean by “you can see zero from here”?
Mr. Mosher: Well, when the current account surplus is right now at about zero, it will go into the negative. As the export sector of the economy shrinks, as exports decline, China still has to import oil. It still has to import raw materials, lumber from Siberia, for example, or from the rainforest. It has to import the raw materials that it then uses to produce goods. So its imports are going to continue to be relatively high, while its exports begin to decline. It’s going to be running a current account deficit before long, I believe.
If the 25 percent tariffs go into play with the remaining $300 billion worth of Chinese imports, China begins running a negative. What if it runs a negative a couple of hundred billion dollars a year and has to support its currency? You’ll burn through that $3 trillion very quickly.
Mr. Jekielek: This feels to me like these new policies have almost created an existential threat for the Communist Party at least.
Mr. Mosher: Absolutely, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. And they’re in trouble whichever way they go. Right? Because if they … sign a trade deal with concrete enforcement provisions … after 90 days or 180 days, they have to do certain things, and if they don’t meet those goal posts, there are penalties in place.
If they don’t sign an agreement like that—and I don’t think President Trump will sign or Robert Lighthizer or Peter Navarro or anyone will agree to sign an agreement that doesn’t have enforcement provisions and penalties for noncompliance. If they don’t sign such an agreement, what happens? The export sector of the economy tanks.
The economy as a whole starts shrinking, running a deficit. And the primary promise of the Chinese Communist Party again is, you may not like us, you may hate us, but we’ve made you prosperous. That goes by the wayside. And then what do the Chinese people do? And then what do lower-level officials do, for example, because I see the regime fracturing, not necessarily along the lines of the people versus the Party structure.
I see the Party structure itself fracturing into provincial-sized or prefectural-sized or county-sized rebellions, led by local officials who aren’t making money anymore. They’re losing money. The factories in their counties, in their provinces are closing down. People are hungry. They’re in the streets demanding bread. The fracture lines will divide the Party and the military and the government. It’ll put province against province. That’s how the system will break apart.
Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. So what do you think the U.S. government should do in addition to the current policy to basically create, let’s say, a good outcome for everyone, because that’s ultimately what we would want.
Mr. Mosher: Well, we’re already putting tremendous economic pressure on China because of … tariffs and the threat of more. What we should, in addition, be doing in security terms is we should be moving in the direction of an Asian NATO. We should be bringing Japan and South Korea together with Taiwan and the Philippines, Australia, and India into a more close security cooperation. Now, we already have such cooperation with Australia, and we’re moving in that direction with India and, of course, the Philippines. Japan, we have the U.S.-Japan security treaty in South Korea.
But we need to unite those nations into a defensive perimeter because one of the dangers of putting the Chinese Communist Party under extreme stress is that they will try to give the United States or one of its allies a bloody nose. They will seek a confrontation in the South China Sea, for example. They will cause havoc on the Korean Peninsula, which is fairly easy for them to do because “little rocket man,” as we fondly call him, is unpredictable. Or they might cause a cross-straits crisis with Taiwan by an invasion feint or, in fact, a real invasion. So we need to preempt that by strengthening our alliances in the Far East and also encouraging our alliance partners to work together.
There are historical animosities of course that divide the countries or the regions very deeply, but we were able, not long ago, to conduct the first joint exercises between the South Korean and the Japanese navy, which I think was the first time that had happened. And we can’t forget about the existence of Taiwan. We’re moving into a closer relationship with Taiwan. I believe one of our officials recently called Taiwan a country, which inflamed tempers in Beijing.
But for all practical purposes, Taiwan is a country. And it’s a very important country as far as China is concerned, because the 24 million people who live on Taiwan are proof-positive that the Chinese people are capable of a democracy, because they’ve had a full-fledged democracy in Taiwan for the past 30 years. They’ve had four or five elections. They’ve had a peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another four times. The ultimate test of a democracy is when the party in power loses an election, and they voluntarily empty out their desks and grab their briefcases and leave and hand over power to the incoming party. And they passed that test.
That’s precisely, of course, why the Chinese Communist Party wants to kill the democratic experiment that is Taiwan because it gives the lie to the party’s claim that only we can maintain stability in China. And the alternative to us is not only poverty, but chaos. Well, in Taiwan, you see prosperity, not poverty. You don’t see chaos. You see democracy in action. And democracy could be messy, right? You get demonstrations, you get disputes in the legislature, but ultimately things are resolved by democratic vote.
Mr. Jekielek: I love that, really, it’s democracy, and this is where the moniker “with Chinese characteristics” really works. It is democracy with Chinese characteristics and it’s flourishing.
Mr. Mosher: As opposed to socialism with Chinese characteristics. And the Chinese characteristics in the view of the Chinese Communist Party are mostly a kind of ultranationalism and hypernationalism and xenophobia, which you can shorten to nationalism. And so what do you get—socialism with nationalistic characteristics? Why don’t we shorten that further and call it national socialism? And there’s actually a shorter version as well, right? Nazis. So that’s what we have in China—an essentially fascist regime using communist terminology.
Mr. Jekielek: Another issue I wanted to speak to you about today [is that] you wrote a recent article in the New York Post on an issue that’s very important to me personally—this issue of forced organ harvesting practices by the state in China from prisoners of conscience, and so forth. Something actually that struck me is our friend, Chris Chappell, who is doing the on-the-ground reporting in Hong Kong as we speak, he interviewed some folks on the street, and he said, they basically—one of the ladies very interestingly, has told them, well, no, suspending the bill isn’t enough. We have different values. This is me extrapolating—we have different values than they do, and that’s the issue. And that immediately made me think of the organ harvesting issue because somehow—well, why don’t you break it down for me?
I thought that was a very powerful article, one of the strongest that I’ve seen that actually explains the breadth of the situation, outside of The Epoch Times. We broke that story back in 2006, so we’re very familiar with it. But why don’t you just break down for me what this is, very briefly for the benefit of our audience and how it’s a reflection of this Nazi-like regime as you describe it.
Mr. Mosher: Well, when the people of Hong Kong say that they have different values than the values that are espoused by the Chinese Communist Party, what they mean is, one of the things they mean is that they believe that human life is valuable, that every human being is unique and a blessing for the rest of us. The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t believe that. The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t think of human beings as individuals at all. It in fact refers to them as the masses. And any way the masses can serve the Party, the masses should serve the Party, including providing, say, hearts and livers and lungs and kidneys for senior Communist Party officials who may need a heart or a liver or lung or kidney.
So I think the original idea behind organ transplants in China was the idea that … senior Communist Party leaders who have absolute command over all the resources in China, including all the human beings, wanted to seek a kind of immortality by organ transplant.
Senior Party officials were receiving blood transfusions back in the 1960s from young people, which actually does have a life-lengthening effect. And then they moved into transplants in the 1980s, and I think it was originally senior Party officials who were the beneficiaries of the transplants. The prisoners who were executed were those who were at that time being given this horrible sentence of immediate execution with a two-year suspended sentence. And that meant that they were on the chopping block at any given time. And when their tissue was a match to the tissue of a Party leader who was in need of an organ, they would be executed by a single bullet to the back of their head. And … their body would be transported to a medical van and their heart or liver would be extracted immediately.
So it was originally very limited in my view, but then the Communist Party realized that it could make money by selling organs overseas to wealthy—not just Chinese—but wealthy transplant tourists from all over the world. And once that became evident, I think they got into the organ transplant business in a big way. And I think, you’ve seen this in other areas as well. In the one-child policy, there were lots of little girls who were being abandoned after birth by parents who wanted a son.
And they didn’t have the heart to actually kill their newborn daughter, so they would leave her by the side of the road. And originally all of those babies who were left by the side of the road died, because no one wanted to adopt a newborn baby girl because if you did, that would fill your quota, and you couldn’t go on to have a natural child of your own. If the baby had to be taken to a state-run orphanage, they would die within weeks or a few days or weeks because they simply weren’t fed or cared for. They were just left to die.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s terrible.
Mr. Mosher: But then, the orphanages, the bureau of adoptions in Beijing, realized they could make money by selling the baby girls. And so China got into the adoption business in a big way—again driven by profit. The organ transplant business began the same way. The Party authorities realized that foreigners were willing to pay $150,000 for a heart, $180,000 for a liver. The price varies. And so they began developing transplant centers throughout the country. I think the People’s Liberation Army were the leaders in this regard because first of all, they had a ready source of prisoners through the police state that they help to run, and they had army hospitals in existence.
So as the traffic ramped up, and more and more transplant tourists began to come to China, the advantage of coming to China was not just the cost, which was lower than the cost of getting an organ overseas. The advantage was that you could get a transplant almost immediately.
Mr. Jekielek: Right. Unlike waiting several years, which is like any civilized country.
Mr. Mosher: In a civilized country, the way the process works is you have people who volunteer their organs. They sign an organ donor card, and if they happen to be killed and their organs are usable, their organs … will be used for someone who has maybe been on a waiting list for a liver or a kidney for years. Many people in the West, by the way, die on those waiting lists because no tissue match appears permitting a transplant.
In China, however, it doesn’t work that way. It works the reverse. When someone orders a heart—and I use the word “ordered” deliberately—or a liver or kidney, their tissue is typed and immediately a match is found in the database maintained in China of potential donors. These aren’t volunteer donors. These are people who are in the Chinese prison system already. Because what happens when you go on a Chinese prison?
Well, they just did this to the Uyghurs and the Kazakhs in Western Turkestan. They called everybody in for what they calla medical examination. What did the medical examination consist of? Well, they took fingerprints. They did a retinal scan. They took a blood sample. They checked to see if their organs were healthy. And that was it. It wasn’t a medical exam at all. It was an exam to see which one of these Uyghurs or Kazakhs might be a potential donor in the future for somebody who is willing to pay $150,000 for an organ. So I think they are now all at risk too—the 1 to 2 million Uyghurs and Kazakhs who are in concentration camps.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s creating a kind of a database…
Mr. Mosher: I know that The Epoch Times has followed this story from the beginning. One of the striking things for me in the early days of your reporting on this, was the story out of Israel, where a gentleman who wanted a heart transplant went to his cardiologist and said, “I’m going to China for a heart transplant on July 15.”
And the cardiologist said, “How do you know there will be a heart available?” And the patient said, “Because they’ve already prearranged the heart.” The only way you can do that is by making sure in advance you have a tissue match with a living person. And then when the transplant tourist, with the money, is on his way, you kill that living person and take his heart.
So the timing of this is absolutely revealing. In my view, it’s positive proof that they are killing people on demand for their organs in order to make a profit. And the profits of this business are huge. Remember, I mean, if you do 100,000 transplants a year, and you’re charging $100,000 per transplant, that’s $10 billion right there. And I believe the actual money is even greater.
So the doctors are profiting, the hospital directors are profiting, but the Party and army officials are pocketing most of the money, I’m convinced. And they’ve also gone into ECMO in a big way, and a lot of people won’t be familiar with ECMO. It’s an acronym for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. [It’s] an artificial heart and lung machine, and they connect it up to a major vein in your body. They take the venous blood—the deoxygenated blood—out of your body, they filter it through a membrane, which oxygenates it, and then they pump it back into your body as arterial blood. So it comes out as venous blood, sort of—
Mr. Jekielek: Right. Deoxygenated blood.
Mr. Mosher: And then it goes back in as bright red oxygenated blood. And what do they use this machine for? Well, they put people who are about to be sacrificed for their organs on an ECMO machine, and once they put them on the ECMO machine, guess what? They can take the heart out. And the other organs continue to be perfused with blood—
Mr. Jekielek: They can essentially keep the people—
Mr. Mosher: They keep the people alive while they harvest all of the organs. And in the old days, 20 years ago, you might be able to get a kidney, but then the rest of the organs would be useless because more than five minutes had elapsed, and five minutes without blood, the cells start dying. Or you could get a heart, but you couldn’t harvest the liver and the lungs.
Now, with this extracorporeal membrane oxidation—this heart lung machine—you can harvest all of the organs. And the worst part of it is this: They can actually put a balloon catheter in the carotid arteries going to your brain and block the blood flow to your brain, while they keep the blood flowing to your organs. So they kill the brain at the same time that they keep blood flowing to the organs and can harvest them one by one. So they’re able to make not just $150,000 off a single killing. Now they can make $750,000 off a killing because they’re harvesting both kidneys, both lungs, the heart, the liver.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s hard to fathom and hard to consume.
Mr. Mosher: And it’s happening every day in China. If they’re executing tens of thousands of people a year for their organs, that means that every day in China, 10, 20, 30, 40 people are dying.
Mr. Jekielek: Because there’s still no legitimate organ donation system, even though, ostensibly they’ve said there’s one that’s been created, but there are some studies I was reading where the data looked like they’re basically fake.
Mr. Mosher: The Chinese have been telling us that the number of organ donors is increasing every year, and if you plot this over time, you see that it’s a straight line, which doesn’t make any sense statistically. So I think the numbers are obviously fabricated. Also they said that they had 8,000 actual donors in 2018. And since they’re doing between 60,000 and 100,000 transplants a year, that’s far too few donors for all the transplants that are being done.
I think on both counts, the numbers are unconvincing. And we know how the system works. I mean a brutal regime—that is willing to forcibly abort women at nine months of pregnancy, killing their babies by lethal injection at birth—is not going to bat an eye at killing a political prisoner or a Christian or a Falun Gong practitioner for their organs. If there’s a profit to be made at the other end, so much the better.
Mr. Jekielek: Steve, the big question that jumps to my mind, and I don’t know how easy a question this is, but why isn’t the CCP just generally considered a pariah regime? Because it’s the state that’s doing this and faciliting this. It’s the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] that’s deeply involved. Why don’t we see them as North Korea or something of that nature? I say “them.” I’m talking about the regime, not the Chinese people, of course.
Mr. Mosher: America has a long history, a long relationship with China. We were the country that prevented China at the time of the Boxer Rebellion from being divided into colonies. We were the country that took our reparations for the Boxer Rebellion, reparations that were paid by the imperial court because so many missionaries and Chinese Christians had been killed in the Boxer Uprising and used it to pay for scholarships for Chinese students to come to the U.S. and study at universities.
We’ve had a long and good history of relations with China. And I think many of us, and myself included, in the late 1970s after the disastrous Cultural Revolution, were hoping that China would finally change course and its leaders would make the right choices. And we maintained that illusion throughout the 1970s. Part of the fact, part of the reason why this awakening to the reality of the brutality of the Chinese regime has taken so long, of course, is because so many American companies, so many Western companies, imagine having 1 billion customers for their products.
And they were drawn like flies to a flame by the thought of all the profits to be made in the huge China market, which, of course, was a fantasy that was played up by the Chinese leadership in order to entice these companies to come into China. What happened when they went into China is they had to turn over their cutting-edge technology. And once they were milked dry of their technology, competing companies were set up with Chinese capital to produce the same goods cheaper because they didn’t have the research and design costs. And then those same companies were often squeezed back out of China.
So finally, we’ve reached the point where not only human rights activists, and not only people who see communist regimes for the brutal one-party killing machines that they are, but also even large sectors of the American economic class now see that China isn’t playing by the rules. China’s stolen their intellectual property. China is not allowing them to compete in China for Chinese customers.
So finally we have, I think, not just a plurality, but a majority of people in the United States from all sectors who realize that China is a threat not only to the world, not only to the United States, but to its own people principally. I mean the Chinese Communist Party again has killed hundreds of millions of its own people. And the sooner it is discarded into the dustbin of history, the better. And I hope that day comes soon for the Chinese people.
Mr. Jekielek: Powerful words. Tell me, you were one of the founding members of the Committee on the Present Danger: China, right? To basically try to educate around the China threat and develop policy around that. What next are we going to see from the Committee on the Present Danger: China?
Mr. Mosher: Well, we set up the Committee on the Present Danger to replicate what had been done in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, and ’80s by the first Committee on the Present Danger, which at the time was the Soviet Union.
Mr. Jekielek: Right.
Mr. Mosher: And, of course, that had the happy outcome, not complete by any means, but the happy outcome of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the freeing of the countries of Eastern Europe—Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the rest—from Soviet domination. We’d like to see the same thing happen in China. That’s why we set up the Committee on the Present Danger: China. We have an administration, I think, that is listening to our policy suggestions. We have white papers in preparation on security issues, on cybersecurity, on economic issues, on trade issues, on human rights issues, on a whole gamut of issues that we will be presenting to the administration, to the Congress to encourage them to take even stronger steps toward bringing the misrule, I think, of the Chinese Communist Party to an end.
The goal here is first of all, disengagement of the U.S. economy from the Chinese economy. I think we’re all agreed on that. And then putting the same kind of pressure on the People’s Republic of China that was successfully put on the Soviet Union. And the pressure on the Soviet Union was threefold. It was a denial of capital to the Soviet Union. And it was a denial of technology to the Soviet Union, and it was a military build-up of a scale and a scope that the Soviet Union simply could not compete with. Well, we now have an administration—I was a great admirer of President Reagan. I wrote a few speeches for him after he left office. Great man. And we can use the same policy toward China.
We can deny a technology—harder in this day and age than it was 30 years ago because of cyberattacks. We have to be much smarter about protecting our intellectual property from online thievery. We are engaged now in a military buildup to offset the decline in our military capabilities that occurred in the ’90s and in the early 2000s because of the so-called peace dividend. We were going to live in a world of peaceful democratic states forever—didn’t happen right? Now we have the China threat. And the third thing is we need to deny China capital. Where does it get capital? It gets capital by cheating on trade.
Well, that may very well be in jeopardy now as well. So deny China capital, put it under financial pressure, deny technology. China can’t innovate under the misrule of the Chinese Communist Party—which is a criminal conspiracy, which does not respect the rule of law, where thievery and corruption is encouraged by the nature of the system. A country like that cannot innovate because why would you spend $1 billion developing a new product when someone right down the street is going to steal it from you as soon as it comes off, as soon as you put it online on your computer and produce the same good more cheaply. It’s not going to happen. So we can use the same strategy toward China that we used toward the Soviet Union and hopefully have an even better result—that is democratic rule.
Mr. Jekielek: Steve, I look forward to seeing some of those policy papers and more from the Committee. Thank you so much for taking the time.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.