Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), the chairman of the newly created U.S. House Select Committee on China, told Breitbart News exclusively that the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are deep into a “new Cold War.”
Gallagher’s bold characterization of years-long rising tensions between the two world powers, as the official authority of the U.S. House of Representatives on the matter, as a “Cold War” much like the decades-long one the United States eventually won against the now-defunct Soviet Union is a major escalation.
“It’s my argument that they, increasingly in partnership with Russia and to a lesser extent Iran, have been waging Cold War against us for the better part of a decade,” Gallagher said in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News that aired on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel last weekend. “I mean, historians will argue when this new Cold War began, it could have began in 2009 when under the previous leadership of Hu Jintao they made aggressive claims in the South China Sea that led to this sort of unprecedented militarization. It could be in 2015 with the OPM hack, which actually happened in 2014, or it could be when Xi Jinping came to power in 2012 or 2013. Who knows? But, they are waging it against us. The point of Cold War, in some sense, is to achieve your objectives without having to resort to hot war. Like the Soviets before them and as Winston Churchill said at the beginning of the old Cold War, of course they don’t want war—they want the fruits of war without having to go to war. We need to deny them that objective.”
Gallagher said some in foreign policy established circles are hesitant to speak so plainly about the threat of the CCP, but not doing so gives them everything they want.
“I think there’s this hesitancy to use the ‘new Cold War’ language for one reason: It’s the fear of upsetting Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party,” Gallagher said. “It almost gives in to the rhetoric we see coming from the CCP, where they attack everything—even attempts at engagement they will attack as ‘Cold War mentality’ or ‘Cold War thinking’ or ‘zero sum games.’ It’s designed to make us afraid to speak the truth. That’s sort of the overall point.”
After the speakership election in January, Speaker Kevin McCarthy quickly assembled the U.S. House Select Committee on China and named Gallagher to be its chair. The bipartisan committee has held some public hearings, and has been gathering information for the last six months, as it prepares to lay out a path for the United States first to understand the confrontation it faces with the CCP in what Gallagher calls this new Cold War—and then to win it. Much like during the first Cold War, with the Soviets, the CCP has influence operations worldwide and is active around the globe including here domestically on U.S. soil. Gallagher told Breitbart News that one of the first actions his committee uncovered was an illegal CCP police station operating in the heart of New York City. That, plus many other revelations like CCP activity on American college campuses and efforts to influence not just the U.S. federal government but state and local governments nationwide, are something Gallagher says are a major threat to the United States.
“Your point about what they’re doing here in America and why this isn’t just a military competition in the South China Sea is a good one,” Gallagher said. “One of the first things we did in the committee was an alley in front of an illegal Chinese Communist Party police station in the island of Manhattan. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the nature of what’s called United Front Work. There, they used an innocent-sounding nonprofit to operate out of a building that was being used to surveil and, in some cases, physically assault Chinese citizens, and in some cases American citizens on American soil. That’s unacceptable. That’s a direct threat to our sovereignty. We see similar things playing out on American campuses where innocent-sounding nonprofits that are ultimately connected to the CCP are being used to harass Taiwanese students, Chinese students who have been critical of the regime, and of course as you alluded there’s been all sorts of attempts to influence state and local governments. We also see to the north, our neighbors to the north in Canada, a profound corruption of the Canadian political system with a combination of coercion and bribery. So we need to make sure this isn’t happening here in America. To say nothing of just the propaganda war that’s underway every single day on our American social media platforms where we have Chinese government officials that are spreading dangerous anti-American propaganda. So it’s time to wake up before it’s too late because there are things that are worse than Cold War. Hot war is one of them, and surrender is the other thing that is worse than Cold War.”
Gallagher breaks the fight down into what he calls “three lines of effort”—first, a “military line of effort, there is an economic and statecraft line of effort, and the third is an ideological or human rights line of effort.” On most of these matters—particularly the first and third lines—Gallagher says Republicans and Democrats share “directional agreement.”
“Everyone wants to deter a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, there are some disagreements about how best to do that but large agreement,” Gallagher said. “Then, ask anybody—they don’t want to play the role in contributing to genocide in Xinjiang for instance. We have some bad actors in the private sector who want to ignore what’s going on there. But where it gets difficult, where the rubber meets the road and where Sen. [Marco] Rubio has really been a leader—an intellectual leader and a thought leader—is in the second bucket, that economic statecraft. How do we selectively decouple from China? That’s a big part of our challenge. I think as we lay out a framework for decoupling, the principles are obvious. In practice, they’re difficult but I think and keep coming back to three core principles in the committee’s early work.”
Decoupling the United States from China economically, Gallagher said, is about the United States stopping “fueling our own destruction.”
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“We don’t want to send money—we don’t want American money to flow to China to be invested in Chinese military companies that are building things to kill Americans,” Gallagher said. “We don’t want American money to invest in Chinese AI companies that are going to be used to enslave Chinese citizens and export a model of effective totalitarian control around the world. We haver to stop fueling our own destruction. The second principle is we just need to be clear-eyed about the risks associated with doing business in China. If you do business in China, you do it by the grace of Xi Jinping. He owns your business, given just the massive power that he’s accumulated and all of these onerous national security laws as well as just the systemic risks that certain financial entities like these BIE securities create and the long-term risks of having your assets seized in the event of a conflict. The third and final thing I’d say, and this is the third principle, is we just need to reclaim our economic independence in key areas. We just can’t allow the Chinese to have the leverage that comes with dominating critical mineral production, dominating advanced pharmaceutical ingredient production. It would allow them to undermine our military power and our other forms of power in the event of a conflict if they threatened to withhold key things such as life-saving drugs. So those are the three principles. Putting them into practice is more difficult, but that’s what we’re trying to do on the committee. I do think we have a core group, a center of gravity, committed to getting more aggressive in terms of this competition and this new Cold War, because if we continue with the status quo, complacent mindset, we’re going to lose this thing in the early stages.”
The Chinese Communist Party has for decades now, since the end of the first Cold War between the United States and now-defunct Soviet Union, engaged in aggressive geopolitical power-and-influence-building diplomacy through programs like its Belt and Road Initiative. In the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, China had succeeded in flipping its first major western nation—a G-7 country—when Italy formally joined the Belt and Road Initiative. But that’s hardly the only effort Beijing has been engaging in across the Eurasian landmass into Africa and throughout the Pacific—even on this side of the planet, with efforts the CCP has engaged in in Latin America and throughout the Caribbean. China has pressured many Catholic-heavy nations in Latin America to formally change their diplomatic recognition of Taiwan to China—China refuses to formally recognize any nation that formally recognizes Taiwan—and even flipped some South American powers to use the Yuan instead of the U.S. dollar for trading purposes. Gallagher says that many Americans sometimes dismiss Belt and Road Initiative CCP victories as being far-distant, far-flung places around the world with no domestic national security implications—but that is increasingly not the case. The House’s China chief said, too, that the CCP’s actions in the western hemisphere threaten an incursion upon a modern-day Monroe Doctrine, the policy named for the fifth president of the United States of America James Monroe that argues the United States would view actions by world powers—then the Europeans, later the Soviets but now the Chinese—in the western hemisphere as hostile to the United States given the proximity of the rest of the Americas to the U.S. and their geographical distance from the rest of the world.
“I think when we talk Belt and Road, there’s a tendency to dismiss it as ‘oh that’s something that’s happening at the Gwadar Port in Pakistan’ or you know in a variety of African countries and ‘sure we should be concerned about it but it’s not a clear and present danger,’” Gallagher said. “I just would submit to you that this is happening in our own backyard. The Chinese Communist Party presents a threat to the modern-day Monroe Doctrine. They’re on a path to turn the Monroe Doctrine into the Mao Doctrine and surpass the United States as the regional power in Latin America. China has become the top trading partner for Brazil, Chile, Peru—and the second largest trading partner for many others. Over the last two decades, its trade with Latin America exploded from over $12 billion to $315 billion. It may double again by 2035. It’s using that economic leverage to coerce a lot of Latin American countries into advancing its interests, foreswearing recognition of Taiwan in many cases, critically they’re seeking to become the dominant player in the Panama Canal bypassing the United States and gaining control over operations at both ends of the Panama Canal which is a strategic chokepoint. Think of if they were able to restrict access to the Panama Canal through which $270 billion annual dollars of trade flows? They would have enormous leverage to make demands or disrupt the flow of American forces into the Indo-Pacific. Even closer to our southern border, we see the Mexican president AMLO basically running into the arms of the Chinese and saying a lot of things that are hostile to America and then of course they’re leading the crusade as you alluded to to replace the U.S. dollar as the global currency with the Yuan. Last summer, Putin and Xi agreed to ditch the U.S. dollar in trade between the two nations in principle. They’ve also had an agreement with Brazil, a deal to eliminate trade using the U.S. dollar. So this is increasingly concerning. They are in our own backyard and they are undermining the Monroe Doctrine. This is an area we just tend to neglect. We just tend to take for granted the fact that we have the luxury of friendly neighbors in a neighborhood we are the dominant power in. Increasingly that’s no longer the case.”
Gallagher’s mission—understanding and explaining the threat of the CCP, then beginning to chart a path forward for the U.S. through the raging conflict—is not without its pitfalls ahead. Sure, Democrats have joined the committee this year—after then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi last Congress reneged on a deal with now-Speaker McCarthy to create the exact same committee—but as he mentioned some do not see the issue here as clear as he does. As for whether President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the rest of the Biden Administration see it this way—the executive branch ultimately sets U.S. foreign policy and the other policy priorities necessary to enact it—Gallagher said he is unsure though some seem clearer-eyed than others. Gallagher warned that many in Biden’s orbit seem more interested in relentlessly pursuing engagement with China than actually stopping China’s rise to power.
“You mentioned the spy balloon. There was a Reuters story that recently suggested some in the administration might have been slow-walking and might still be slow-walking the disclosures around the CCP spy balloon to help resuscitate a strategy of engagement with China,” Gallagher said. “But this quixotic attempt at having diplomatic meetings does not supersede the American public’s right to the truth about what happened to the spy balloon. Even worse, we can’t sideline critical priorities surrounding human rights, violations of our sovereignty, and export controls that are critical to our national security just to pursue one-sided engagement. If I have a concern about this administration, it’s that they seem to be chasing Chinese Communist Party officials around the world desperate to engage and they keep getting the stiff-arm. To the extent that then leads them to de-prioritize critical issues, whether it’s fentanyl precursors, whether it’s human rights issues, whether it’s export controls, I think that’s a bad strategy. The other thing I’ve said before is the administration is divided. There are some who I think have a more realistic view of China. But, there are many who believe that China is not our most important issue and it’s rather climate change. That creates an incoherence in their policy and that’s why you get some of this gobbledegook rhetoric around ‘well, we’re going to compete in some areas and then we’re going to cooperate in others and then we’re going to cooperate and compete with guardrails and this and that’ but all of that creates strategic confusion and of course climate change leads some in the administration to conclude we need to work with the Chinese Communist Party on climate change and if Xi Jinping cares about climate change. I think there’s a bit of naïveté underlying that and a bit of utopianism and that’s why we need to be honest, we need to be clear-eyed, we need to be realistic about the threat we are facing in the Chinese Communist Party. The threat is global. The threat is existential. If we don’t recognize that, we’re going to lose this Cold War in really its earliest stages.”
LISTEN TO REP. MIKE GALLAGHER ON BREITBART NEWS SATURDAY: