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‘You’re Lifting the Secrets to Life’: Ross Kennedy on Dangers of China’s Agricultural Theft

In this special episode, we sat down with Ross Kennedy, founder of Fortis Analysis. He talks about the recent report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission titled “China’s Interests in U.S. Agriculture: Augmenting Food Security through Investment Abroad.” What does this mean, not just for U.S. agriculture, but also national security?

Kennedy noted how expensive that theft can be: “Most people don’t realize that you could steal some kernels of corn or a few soybeans and perpetrate a multibillion-dollar industrial espionage campaign, but that’s exactly what what has happened. And that’s just one way of many in which that threat just continues to be something that a lot of people do worry about behind the scenes.”

But it doesn’t just impact Americans domestically, Kennedy said: “So for China to steal it from the U.S., develop indigenous versions of their own, and then export some of that to Africa—in the same way they would export construction technology for Belt and Road, you could also do Belt and Road, with food, and with energy. And it’s a massive diplomatic lever in a lot of places where China could come in and say, ‘Hey, we can give the farm equipment, the methods, the machinery, and this very expensive intellectual property, we can provide this all to you to lift yourselves up out of food issues or food poverty, but we want access to these critical minerals, or we want to build a military base on your shoreline’ or whatever it may be. It’s a very powerful lever. And it’s a more powerful lever and version of the way the U.S. says, ‘Hey, we’ll give you some bags of wheat, or some bags of rice to help feed yourselves.’ This is China saying, ‘We’re not going to give you a fish, we’re going to teach you to fish, but we want something very valuable in return.’ And so that is one way in which, internationally, theft of American agriculture intellectual property, it has a direct line to undermining American diplomatic national security efforts worldwide.”

And in the second half, we sat down with Richard Bitzinger, an independent international security analyst. He touches on the changes in the Indo-Pacific region, if Japan is moving away from its post-WWII pacifism, and more.

Bitzinger noted: “All eyes right now are on Ukraine, and well, they should be, but the Indo Pacific is still probably where the future of I guess you’d say superpower, great games are going on and probably will continue to be. And just because the Chinese had a bit of a setback in this recent round of trying to sort of peel off a lot of these Pacific island nations doesn’t mean that one, they aren’t going to keep trying, and two, that they aren’t going to have successes. They’ve actually, in the past, had little successes. They’ve signed some agreements years ago with Kiribati. They, of course, have a major agreement now with the Solomons. And since this is, in a lot of ways, the Chinese backyard or increasingly where they want to be, I mean, they’re not going to just simply go away. They’re going to lick their wounds and come back again.”

As to whether China would wage war on Taiwan and if Japan would get involved, Bitzinger said: “At this point, if the Chinese were to also attack some of those islands, if they decided at the same time that they were going to invade Taiwan—which, of course, is a long shot, I think still—would they also try to settle the problem with the Senkaku Diaoyu Islands, … kill two birds with one stone. That would naturally drag the Japanese into the conflict. And of course, the other thing is, is that the Japanese might simply look at a pro-China Taiwan—that is a Taiwan occupied and controlled by the mainland—as a real new threat on their southern flank. And so they might want to be much more forward and forthright about working with the Taiwanese to defend them, at the same time that obviously the United States would be involved, too.”

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