America is “unsafe” with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in a leadership position in trade negotiations with China, according to Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China.
He offered his remarks in a Thursday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.
China’s theft of American intellectual property is a national security priority, said Chang.
“The really big issue here is China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property, and this is to the tune of about $300 to $400 billion a year,” stated Chang. “Some say a little bit more. Some say a little bit less, but we’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars each and every year, and this is a mortal wound on the U.S. economy.”
Chang continued, “I don’t see how these trade talks are going to help us stop that theft. The only way we’re going to stop this is if we impose such great costs that the Chinese have no choice but to start to do the right thing, and I wouldn’t take off these tariffs until China stops stealing our stuff.”
Mansour asked about the possibilities of political reform in China.
“I don’t think it’s possible to reform Xi Jinping,” judged Chang. “I don’t think it’s possible to reform the Communist Party. If you’re talking about the Chinese people, I think yeah, of course, there are a lot of people in China who are actually embarrassed by what the Communist Party is doing in terms of stealing, because they just feel that this is not what a great nation should be doing, and they understand that by stealing our stuff, they also hurt themselves because they cut the incentive to innovate.”
Chang went on, “But nonetheless I don’t think we can really change Xi Jinping. He’s got this Made in China 2025 initiative to dominate technology in — now — 11 sectors. This is the subject of Senator Rubio’s report. He absolutely nails it, and it’s important that we listen to him when he says, ‘Look, this is the most pervasive challenge. This is without precedent. This is the gravest threat to the American republic.'”
Mansour asked how aligned the Chinese people are with their political leadership.
Chang explained, “I think that certainly the controls in China are becoming more Orwellian, and China is moving away from authoritarian back to full-on totalitarianism. We’re going back to things that are reminiscent of the Maoist era. Of course, China’s more modern than it was in the fifties and sixties and seventies, but nonetheless, the political system is going back to what was then.”
“At this time, I think most Chinese people don’t buy into communism,” assessed Chang. “They are sullen. They are coarse. I mean, they do fear the party, and you can understand why. Essentially, the Communist Party has lost hearts and minds, and that’s why it’s gone to the social credit system and other things in order to obtain obedience.”
Mansour asked how the threat of China should be explained to the American public.
“The big deal is that China’s challenge to the United States is existential,” replied Chang. “Xi Jinping has been dropping hints that China is the world’s only sovereign state, and the implication of that, of course, is that we’re not sovereign; that we’re subjects of China. Now, it’s bold. It’s ludicrous. Xi Jinping can’t implement that at this point, but nonetheless he’s been very clear about where he wants to take the international system. That’s why we have to be concerned.”
Chang added, “We’ve got to protect our freedom. We’ve got to protect our sovereignty. As Ronald Reagan said, freedom is only one generation from extinction, and now it’s becoming very clear that that’s not just a line. That is indeed true.”
Mansour asked, “Do you think our government is doing enough to protect us from [Chinese] spyware, malware, and kill switches on our technology? Are we doing enough to really make sure that the technological future is separated from China, and we’re not dependent on them?”
Chang replied, “The answer to that is no, but the Trump administration, I think, is starting to see the consequences of China’s domination of things like 5G, the internet of things, technology, trade. This is a trend that has been in the works for quite some time, stretching back to, let’s say, the second term of the Obama administration. There’s a real concern that China is not trying to integrate into the international system. It doesn’t want to be like the rest of the world. It doesn’t want to accept rules and norms; and so Trump, like second-term Obama, is actually starting to do things which are really very important.”
“So, for instance, there’s now clearly a campaign to undercut Huawei technologies, the Chinese telecom company,” Chang continued. “Clearly the Trump administration has done some really good things in this regard, including making sure that Qualcomm — the San Diego company and a U.S. competitor in 5G — is actually able to meet the Chinese challenge. There’s so much going on, and these are good things, but we need to do much more because China’s challenge to us is much graver than most people think.”
Mansour noted the transfer of manufacturing processes to China, highlighting companies such as General Motors (GM) and Tesla. She asked, “Do you think these corporations are being short-sighted, and if so, what do we do about that?”
“Of course, these companies are short-sighted,” Chang replied. “And they should understand what China’s been doing, because there’s so much history on that. At the end of the day, the thing is, corporate leaders are meant to maximize profits. They’re not there to defend American national security. They’re not even there to defend what it is. That’s the job of the president. That’s the job of Congress. So what we really need is political leadership. .here have been Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives — who have gotten this completely wrong.”
Chang added, “What we’re seeing as I’ve mentioned is, as China has been pushing more and more, Americans are starting to understand more and more about the nature of this challenge. So it’s really up to President Trump, right now, to take a resolute stance. He actually, I think, understand this, but he feels there are too many political pressures going the other way. He’s got, for instance, a treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin. I think our republic is unsafe when Mnuchin is in the room with Chinese officials. It’s up to President Trump to make sure that people like Mnuchin do not hijack what I think is otherwise a very good agenda.”
Pollak asked Chang about economic harm resulting from protracted confrontation with China.
“Of course, we should always worry about disturbing signs,” answered Chang. “But let’s be clear, here. We’ve got a problem, $300 to $400 billion a year, here. Maybe a little bit more, maybe a little bit less. But that’s each and every year. So we have go to understand that you can’t run decades of misguided China policy and expect that we’re going to get out of this without cost to ourselves. We are going to have to sacrifice like we sacrificed during the Cold War; like we sacrificed during World War II. Except right now, as Senator Rubio points out, this is a graver challenge than World War II. This is a graver challenge than the Cold War. As Americans, we have to understand that this is the fight of our lives, and if we want to pass on anything to our children and grandchildren, we are going to have to sacrifice. There are going to be costs on us. It’s just unavoidable.”
Mansour contemplated a presidential national address to explain the threat posed by China’s policies. “I’m not sure the public really understands the danger here, completely,” she said.
“I agree with you,” said Chang. “The public does not understand, and it is the fault of political leadership going back not just in this administration, but to other ones. That’s why we’ve got Breitbart. We have Breitbart to be the Paul Revere of the 21st century, to tell people, ‘This is the challenge of our generation — the challenge of our lives — and we have no choice but to confront this.'”
Chang addressed regions most affected by the outsourcing of manufacturing to China.
“It’s not just the Rust Belt,” explained Chang. “You go through small towns in the South. Last year my wife and I drove from Atlanta down to the panhandle of Florida, because I was talking to the Air Force down there, and we passed so many boarded up towns. So the question is, what do we do about this and how do we do it? I think that we have to understand the nature of the threat as Senator Rubio has laid it out. We’ve got to demand that our political leaders address this.”
Chang remarked, “If I was president I would go to some of those small towns in Alabama and I would address the nation and say, ‘Look, this main street is boarded up because of China, and because of policies we Americans have embraced. We can’t embrace that, anymore. We’ve got to remember that we’re a nation and it’s not just people in Wall Street that the political system needs to cater to. It needs to cater to those people who’ve been hurt the most by all of this. There is no choice but for us to understand that we Americans have been hurt, and the poorest most vulnerable Americans have been hurt the most.”
In a Wednesday-published interview with Breitbart News, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said China’s international push for global hegemony is the biggest threat America ever faced, echoing Chang’s description of the Chinese threat as existential.
Breitbart News reported, “Rubio also says that Trump should trust U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer over other advisers pushing for any kind of quick-fix deal, because he says Lighthizer understands the deeper implications at play here.”
Breitbart News Tonight broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125 weeknights from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern or 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.