Simone Gao: The war in Ukraine has brought changes to the world.
Do you think it has changed the balance of power and strategic Alliance of the major powers in the world so far?
Miles Yu: NATO is no longer considering itself, a purely regional and European defense pact. It actually considers peace and stability in the Indo Pacific a part of its new mission as well.
Simone Gao: But, has Xi Jinping heeded the warning?
Miles Yu: I don’t think Xi Jinping is even teachable of any lessons.
Simone Gao: Dr. Miles Yu, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s top China advisor, nevertheless, suggests that Xi learns two things.
Miles Yu: Bullying a small country will never work, the United States and its allies are determined to defend Taiwan.
Simone Gao: And his words to Taiwan is:
Miles Yu: Never give in to threat and bullying.
Simone Gao: Dr. Yu, thank you so much for joining Zooming In today.
Miles Yu: Thank you for inviting me. I’m glad to be here with you again.
Simone Gao: Okay. So I know a new China Center was just formed at the Hudson Institute last month, and you are the director of it. Can you tell us a bit more about this center? Why was it formed? What is it going to do and how is it going to be different from other China-related think-tanks in DC?
Miles Yu: Let me answer your last question. First, the China Center at the Hudson Institute is unlike other think-tank centers in Washington. Uh, in that it is a product of a unique moment in US history when America’s attitude, understanding and resolve to face a formidable challenge that is the Chinese Communist Party has reached an unprecedented national consensus. Political forces from all sides, left, center and right, have all agreed on this historical shift, which is almost 180 degrees, of our national policy toward communist China.
The crux of this unprecedented national consensus on China is the end of a misguided area of engagement and appeasement to the CCP and the beginning of a national awakening to the intention, capabilities and opportunities of the Chinese communist party. Uh, the party has used different ways to upend the free and democratic global system and to replace it with the autocratic model of governance led by the Marxist-Leninist Chinese Communist party, a party that has been, to be frank, enabled and empowered by our decades of naive engagement and unprincipled appeasement.
So, the central mission of the China Center at Hudson is therefore to promote and preserve this historic national consensus on China to prevent it from becoming another victim of partisanship.
Uh, so another unique feature of Hudson’s China Center is that many of my colleagues associated with the center are the veterans of the revolutionary change of our China policy during the Trump administration, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, for example, works with us in the capacity of the China Center’s chairman of the advisory board.
I myself was deeply involved in that China policy revolution during the Trump administration. We will do our best to ensure a policy continuity, help the current and future American administrations, no matter which party it may be, with our expertise, experiences, and recommendations, so that American democracy will withstand the CCP’s challenge. And we will win the strategic competition for freedom, human rights and the rule of law.
Simone Gao: Right, right. Uh, talking about this historic moment in the US-China relations, one of the geopolitical events that has a major impact on China is the Russo-Ukrainian war. So what is your overall assessment of the war? Was it avoidable in your opinion? And, uh, do you think it has changed the balance of power and strategic alliance of the major powers in the world so far?
Miles Yu: I think all wars are waged with certain kind of ideas behind them. I think that Russia has long held a dangerous idea. And so that idea has not really been refuted sufficiently. Therefore I see the war coming, uh, sort of expected. Now what is the idea? Well, Russia’s war against Ukraine is completely unjustified. It reflects an antiquated imperialistic Russian mentality that all peoples of other sovereign nations who may have shared historical, ethnic, or even linguistic ties with Russian culture should be ruled by the Moscow-centered civilization state called Russia.
So this justification for aggression in Ukraine is very dangerous and it is exactly what the Chinese Communist Party is advocating for in the context of Taiwan. Russia and the CCP share exactly the same absurd warmongering logic, uh, both Moscow and Beijing are saying that history, ethnicity and a common language should determine political sovereignty and territorial belonging, but not political independence, popular elections and international law.
So this Chinese and Russian thinking must be stopped for the sake of world peace and international stability.
Now, you asked me another aspect of the war that is, uh, what does it mean? Well, the war in Ukraine itself has rendered profound lessons to all, both aggressors and aggressed. To the aggressors. It has really become a perfect case of global rallying, uh, of tremendous moral and material support for Ukraine and Taiwan against the naked threats of invasion and subjugation. Uh, just as a very familiar Chinese saying goes, “a just cause attracts great support and unjust one finds little”.
Because of this Russian-Chinese joint venture of aggression, these two countries are extremely isolated, morally, internationally, and China is worried that if it does a copycat act by invading Taiwan, China will be sanctioned, boycotted, and resisted severely and debilitatingly.
I would say, you know, uh, another important consequence of the war in Ukraine is that it has really taught the victimized and threatened small countries like Taiwan, that they must have their own indigenously, strong national defense forces, but most importantly, never give in to threat and bullying.
Only when a nation shows its resolve and tenacity for self-defense can great international military support make any difference. With strong self-defense and great military assistance from allies, Taiwan will prevail.
So I think, you know, in the end freedom and democracy will win. But you asked me, excuse me, you asked me also about whether the war in Ukraine has changed global balance of power. My answer is not really, despite Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine. I think the international consensus that the CCP is the world’s number one threat still remains. Not only that, I think that because of the war in Ukraine, global major power players have even deepened their existing strategic perspective by viewing the CCP as even more dangerous because of its closer and closer relationship with Russia, not just in Europe, but more importantly in the Indo-Pacific as well.
Uh, well I think this is happening because the world knows that Russia is kind of less advanced economically and technologically than the CCP. Let me just make this quite clear. China’s economy is more than 10 times bigger than Russia’s. It has much more advanced asymmetrical weapon platforms in emerging new frontiers of modern warfare. So that’s why we have seen that for the first time a global multilateral collective defense Alliance is slowly but steadily taking shape, with China and Russia at the center of its preoccupation. For example, NATO is no longer considering itself a purely regional and European defense pact. It actually considers peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific part of its new mission as well. And this is pretty amazing. You can see that in the recently concluded NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, –for the first time leaders of key Indo-Pacific democracies, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand are invited to take part in, and the NATOs 2022 Strategic Concept specifically mentioned that the PRC is one of its strategic security priorities. And that is pretty amazing. So that’s why I say the war in Ukraine has not really changed global power balance and China, not Russia, continues to be world’s biggest security threat.
Simone Gao: Hmm. In your early part of the answer, you talked about whether the Taiwanese people are ready for a possible CCP aggression. I wanna talk about that a little bit more later, but for now I have another question, you know, regarding the war, some analysts say from now to winter is a critical time for how the world would turn out. America and Europe should provide enough heavy weapons to Ukraine for them to launch an offensive, to turn the dynamics of the battlefield around.
Otherwise when winter kicks in, the ban on Russian energy will put Europe in a very difficult situation, which might undermine our result to keep supporting Ukraine and keep the sanctions in place. However, America and Europe are not determined. I mean, those two, those analysts, uh, America and Europe are not determined to let Ukraine win before winter. They’re not providing enough heavy weapons. What is your opinion on this?
Miles Yu: Well, I think, you know, I might challenge the sort of the premises of some of your questions a little bit, but, uh, let me just try to answer them this way. Uh, I think European countries are realizing the importance of energy independence more and more. They’re trying not to be blackmailed by Russia for energy supply. However, I do not believe Russia is the number one factor in Europe’s energy crisis. It is a crisis.
Russia is a problem, but it’s not the biggest one. I think the real problem with Europe’s energy crisis is extreme left-wing woke politics. Germany, for example, is most vulnerable to Russia’s energy blackmail. That’s because German leaders for many years have purposefully neglected its energy independence, gone woke with over-reliance on limited renewable energy sources, basically solar and wind. You know, solar and wind can never supply enough to meet Germany’s national energy demand.
So Germany has to rely on Russia. However, you know, you don’t hear much about the French worrying about their winter’s energy shortage. That’s because about 85% of France energy comes out of its own nuclear power plants. In other words, France has energy independence, therefore making France far less susceptible to Russia’s energy blackmail, but nuclear power plant is considered not politically correct in Germany and the Germans are now in trouble, but I think they should really blame themselves more, not just the Russians.
About energy shortage and the war in Ukraine, I think the winter harshness is a double-edged sword for both sides of the war. It might be tough for the Ukrainians and its allies in Europe, but it may even be a bigger problem for the Russians. Uh, let me, let’s just say it this way. If the Russians in good weather couldn’t win the war, how could we expect them to do better in harsh winter conditions, with the Europe’s legendary winter muddiness and the snowy mess? Russian tanks, armored vehicles and soldiers may well be further and further stuck, becoming Ukrainian’s sitting ducks for target practice.
Simone Gao: That’s interesting. You know, I wanna ask you a couple more question on that, but let’s just go to the biggest question. I mean, this has a lot to do with Xi Jinping what do you think Xi Jinping has learned from this war so far?
Miles Yu: Well, personally, I don’t think Xi Jinping is even teachable of any lessons, but if I were Xi Jinping, I would be aware of the following: Number one, bullying a small country will never work, as the small will gain more inner strength and external support, becoming much stronger and more lethal in the end. Number two, the United States and its allies are determined to defend Taiwan, especially after Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, because the world has realized once an act of aggression started, a chain of aggression may follow, and Taiwan should not be allowed to be the first link of a chain of aggression in the Indo-Pacific.
Number three, there are great limits in modern warfare because there are many variables. China may look strong, but it has great weaknesses and vulnerabilities too. So a war of aggression against Taiwan may not really be that easy to win. So you ask how the war impacts Taiwan’s strategies. I think the biggest impact is that the previously rampant defeatism and capitulationism has been further discredited in Taiwan, the free and sovereign people of Taiwan are now more united. And that freedom’s cause has indeed formed a united front in Taiwan’s defense.
Simone Gao: You answered this question. Uh, so I was gonna ask you, but I’m glad you already answered. So you think this war has strengthened Taiwan’s defense strategies?
Miles Yu: Yes.
Simone Gao: Okay. So do you think the Taiwanese people are mentally and physically prepared for a potential military aggression by the CCP now?
Miles Yu: More so than ever.
Simone Gao: Okay. Than ever, but are they prepared enough if the CCP is going to launch an aggression right now, are they ready?
Miles Yu: Well, it’s very hard to give a simplistic yes or no answer, because wars are basically kind of unpredictable, but I see Taiwanese people are more and more together. They have gained a much broader consensus on the survival of the nation, what’s really at stake. And most importantly, I think Taiwanese people are realizing more and more that they will get much, much more support from the international community.
That’s because, as I said earlier, many people, particularly countries around China, you can see Japan, Australia, you know, even Vietnam, many people view the China threat against Taiwan is just the beginning of the China aggression. If China takes Taiwan, who knows who might be next, the South China Sea? China might fight a war with Vietnam, with India. So this is the reason why Taiwan’s cause has gained so much more support. Most of them sort of passively, but some of the leaders in China’s periphery actually have said openly, they will come to Taiwan’s defense in the case of a war.
Simone Gao: Yeah. Okay. Next question. I wanna talk about the CCPs 20th National Congress. You know, the party’s conclave is going to happen in October this year, and there’s a lot of a speculations on whether Xi Jinping will get a third term and whether China’s reform-oriented forces represented by premier Li Keqiang would chip away some of Xi Jinping’s power. So what do you make of the top power struggle politics in China right now?
Miles Yu: Well, you use a very good word, conclave, which implies secrecy and furtiveness. I mean, that’s exactly what the Chinese Communist Party politics is all about. It’s very, very undemocratic, it’s very non-transparent. You asked me the question of the result, Li Keqiang up or down, Xi Jinping in or out. You know what? I don’t know and I don’t care. What’s going on inside the byzantine labyrinth of CCP power struggle, inside the ruling elite should never be the Chinese people’s top preoccupation. I know the CCP has exerted an iron group over the Chinese people, but if the Chinese people do not play into the CCP’s game and consider the CCP intellectually irrelevant, then we will see real progress in China.
To me personally, whether Xi Jinping stays or gets out, whether Li Keqiang gets in or out, it doesn’t really matter. They are all communist, dedicated to one and only objective, that is to preserve the longevity of the CCP dictatorship. We should also keep in mind, even the most reform minded Chinese communist leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, would never hesitate for a split second in ordering the massacre of the Chinese people, just as what happened in 1989 Tiananmen Square. So the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre should have waken up the Chinese people to this simple fact: for the CCP to prolong, the Chinese people must suffer and die. There’s no other arrangements.
Simone Gao: I know you came to America. I don’t know when, but you had experienced or heard. I mean, I know you had a deep memory and a lot of thinking regarding the Tiananmen Massacre happened in 1989. Can you just tell me a little bit, whether, I mean, before and after, like how your thoughts on China have changed because of the event?
Miles Yu: I think, you know, many people who experienced the 1989 momentous events in Tiananmen and elsewhere, like the Eastern Europe and Soviet Union, all share something in common. And that common experience is this: Communists rule people with fear. They instill tremendous fear to its people. So people were afraid of doing this and doing that. They were afraid of speaking up.
So the true meaning of Tiananmen movement is that for seven weeks people of China, centered in Tiananmen square, were more or less free of fear instilled by the Chinese Communist Party, those were the freest seven weeks in the history of the Chinese communist regime. So I think that’s why even though it’s a short-lived seven weeks of glory, but that seven weeks gave a lot of people freedom. Once an individual tastes freedom, no matter how briefly, he would never be the same person again.
Miles Yu: That’s why Tiananmen is a momentous moment, not just for the particular individuals who actually participated in that, but also is a moment of awakening for a generation of people, even to generations to follow. And that’s also why the Chinese Communist Party has done its utmost best to wipe out any memory, any commemoration of the Tiananmen movement. And that’s a tragedy. Our job as an individual citizen of the world is to keep the memory alive and to understand and appreciate the true meaning of the Tiananmen movement of 1989, which is freedom. So I think that freedom can mean many things to many people, but that’s my understanding.
Simone Gao: Right. And do you think China will ever regain its freedom?
Miles Yu: Oh yeah. I remember one of the most moving moments in my memory, in the immediate aftermath of Tiananmen, was the American singer, Joan Baez, she composed a very emotionally charged song. And I think the song, the lyric repeats over and over again, it says just simply that “China shall be free.”
Simone Gao: Okay. All right. Thank you so much. Doctor Yu, these are all my questions. Do you have anything else to add?
Miles Yu: Well, good luck with your program and thank you for having me today.