Michael Pillsbury: Tariffs Are ‘Just a Pin Prick’ Compared to What’s Needed to Halt China’s ‘Predatory Policies’

AP Photo/Andy Wong
AP Photo/Andy Wong

Michael Pillsbury, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower, described the Trump Administration’s implementation of tariffs on aluminum and steel imports as insufficient measures towards curbing China’s goal of displacing U.S. geopolitical global dominance.

Pillsbury joined Breitbart News’s Senior Editor-at-Large Rebecca Mansour for Friday interview focsuing on national security threats related to China’s geopolitical ascendance on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight.

Tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from China should be part of a broader strategy towards restraining China’s hostile geopolitical ambitions, suggested Pillsbury.


“It’s pretty widely believed that the tariffs won’t change China’s overall predatory economic policies,” said Pillsbury. “What I try to expose in one of the chapters in The Hundred-Year Marathon is how China built the kind of policy machine it has today with its economy, and they’re deeply committed to a set of economic policies that involves subsidizing large companies that they call the national champions. These companies as recently as fifteen years ago, none of them on the top 500 companies in the world list. Now 100 of them are.”

China’s economic policies are violative of its commitments as a member of the World Trade Organization, said Pillsbury.

“They have a series of techniques they use that involves dumping products [and] buying raw materials with the help of the government,” explained Pillsbury. “It’s a set of behaviors which they promised they would never do when President Clinton let them into the World Trade Organization. So fairly recently, President Trump has denied them what they wanted; they wanted to be called a free market economy and then qualify for lower tariffs worldwide from all countries, but President Trump, and of most of the European countries, the Japanese, all have denied China to be considered a free market economy, which they’re not.”

“So, the steel tariffs, as you know, were a  matter of great political struggle inside the White House,” added Pillsbury. “We had the departure of Gary Cohn, and perhaps others, who oppose tariffs of any kinds.”

“I consider these tariffs to be just a pin prick compared to what it would take to get China to give up its predatory policies,” said Pillsbury. “The United States sues China more than any other country in Geneva in the World Trade Organization. A lot of the experts who draw the suits up — the lawyers who do it — have told me that there’s far too few lawyers involved. We could sue China double the number of times that we do, and win even more cases, and get other countries to go with us over violations of international trade issues.”

Pillsbury described decades of policies related to China as insufficient in addressing emerging threats related to the one-party state’s rising power. Even marginal efforts directed towards curtailing the Chinese threat have been obstructed by “globalists,” he added.

“The scale of the problem is just far beyond what the level of effort is, so far,” stated Pillsbury. “The globalists are blocking even these small pin prick measures. That’s why the Chinese are probably going to surpass us as an overall economy in the next few years. They’re already passed us, according to the World Bank, in a metric called purchase power parity. They’re on their way to double our economy in about 10 to 15 years and then being triple our economy by 2049. That’s kind of the end date of what they call the 100-year marathon. When you’re triple the size of another economy, you can imagine the kind of influence you can wield. You can just buy assets, companies, and people in the inferior country, and that’s sort of why I wrote the book, is to sound the alarm about these long-term trends. It’s not going to happen this year or next year.”

Pillsbury cast the status quo as shifting the balance of power to China and away from the U.S.

“This is the trend we’re going on in both the economic [and] military balance,” Pillsbury said. “The degree to which they influence us through the media and through Hollywood. All of these trends are in the wrong direction. We can turn them around if wake up and decide to do so. But it’s only President Trump who’s made some progress in the right direction.”

Mansour framed the news media as broadly absent on the issue of an ascendant China.

“No one is sounding the alarm on this,” said Mansour. “They’re more concerned on cable news with porn stars. … I look at what China is doing — their expansionist behavior and their rhetoric — it’s very troubling. It does feel like the 1930s, again, and nobody is paying attention They’re incredibly adept at manipulating Western media.”

Pillsbury drew parallels between those pushing for greater U.S.-Chinese relations to 1930s appeasement of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

“In the 1930s, there have been a couple of new studies of what actually happened in the 1930s in America with regard to [Adolf Hitler] and Nazi Germany. There was a huge effort that dominated public opinion that Hitler was our friend and the Nazis were good,” recalled Pillsbury, who pointed to Arnold Offner’s book American Appeasement.

“[Offner] got a hold of all the telegrams and messages from our embassy in Berlin in the 1930s about the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party, and it makes you sick,” said Pillsbury. “It was all about how we have to work with Hitler, we need to persuade him, and shape his views. There are moderates in the Nazi Party and we have to work with them. It was why the American ambassador had to go to rallies of the Nazi Party so we could get along better with them and change their views. This is only three years before the massive war begins to break out.”

America tends to be slow in recognizing threats from foreign adversaries, surmised Pillsbury.

“We have a history as a sort of trusting democracy,” said Pillsbury. “Only a few people in the thirties were concerned about the rise of Hitler and the Japanese military, and they were laughed at. They were considered freaks. The Chinese are much more subtle than Hitler and the Nazis. The Chinese are deeply embedded in our society, and they have friends everywhere, not just in Washington, DC. The reason I wrote this book, and I had a very hard time, I had to remove a lot of it at the request of CIA and FBI, but they left a lot in that is new material about how subtle and sophisticated the Chinese are in their strategy toward America. So I hope people buy it. It was  national best-seller. It’s sold more copies in Japan, Korea, [and] it’s coming out in Hindi in India next month. So the neighbors of China are already pretty alarmed.”

“[My book] also has a set of policy measures, what I call the 12 steps,” said Pillsbury. “It’s a play off the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps. The 12 steps we have to take to make ourselves more competitive with China, that to me is the core of it, because they’re outcompeting us.”

“[The Chinese] are subtle and sophisticated in their strategy towards America,” warned Pillsbury, advising political observers not to underestimate China.

Pillsbury explained how China punishes foreign critics of its policies. “They pick out any scholar or think tank person or someone who they believe opposes their views and they will punish that person. They will say, ‘You cannot have a visa to China.’ Two or three of our best experts on China have been denied visas for over twenty years. Whereas if you’re sympathetic [to China], your visa comes through in 30 days.”

Pillsbury shared some recommendations on how to enhance America’s competitiveness relative to China.

“The first step is just to recognize the problem,” said Pillsbury. “This step turns out to be the hardest.”

Pillsbury called for an “inventory of all the ways the U.S. government helps China” via “a whole series of government programs.”

“The National Science Foundation has over 100 agreements that date back to Jimmy Carter; never reviewed by the Congress,” said Pillsbury. “These agreements require the U.S. government to turn over our fresh scientific findings to the Chinese. We have a huge office in Beijing that does this. and the Chinese have been known to kind of, in a cheeky way, they even complain if they read about some new scientific discovery and the U.S. hasn’t turned it over to them. They’ll complain and say, ‘What about this?’ You haven’t given it to us, yet.’ This is really quite shocking when the Pentagon talks about the China threat … that we’re helping China to become more competitive.”

Pillsbury advised Americans to update their perceptions of China.

“They have more billionaires, now, than we do,”  said Pillsbury. “There’s a very old fashioned image of China that many people have who shouldn’t, that these are like the laundrymen down on the corner, or somehow they built the railroads and they’re not very sophisticated, and it’s just simply not true. They’re pulling ahead of us in outer space research. They are across the board, now, world leaders in science and technology.”

“It’s not all doom and gloom,” concluded Pillsbury. “There’s still plenty of time to correct these trends.”

Listen to the full audio above of Pillsbury’s interview on Breitbart News Tonight.

Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).

Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.


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